oppn parties The Freelancer: The Build-Up And Mohit Raina Make It Worth A Watch

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Calcutta HC scraps 2016 teacher appointment process, 25757 teachers to lose their jobs, ordered to repay salaries withdrawn in 4 weeks
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The Freelancer: The Build-Up And Mohit Raina Make It Worth A Watch

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2023-09-04 14:33:23

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

Neeraj Pandey has a solid body of work after he made his directorial debut with the amazing A Wednesday that immediately propelled him into the limelight. Special 26, Baby and M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story kept the magic alive before he gave a flop in Aiyyary. On TV, he directed the riveting Special Ops where again he was in solid form. The Freelancer (streaming on Disney+Hotstar), his latest offering, is based on the book A Ticket To Syria: A Story About the ISIS In Maldives by Shirish Thorat and the writers of the series, Ritesh Shah and Pandey, have changed the location to India to make it relevant for viewers in the country.

The story is about how a globe-trotting ("5 book ka passport hai mera", she boasts) mohallah badi bi, Farhat Khala (Balaji Gauri)  who goes around like a preacher manages to radicalize educated and wealthy Muslim families (and it is here that the writers falter by not making the radicalization process convincing - it is almost childish) to adopt the 'true' way of Islam and join the ISIS in Syria. But when she sends one such family from Malaysia, she forgets that their son has recently married Aliya (Kashmira Pardeshi),the daughter of Mumbai ex-cop Inayat Khan (Sushant Singh), who will go to any length to establish contact with her daughter who goes missing in Istanbul with her husband's family just days after her marriage. When Inayat fails to contact his ex-colleague and now top mercenary Avinash (Mohit Raina), he gets himself sprayed by bullets by the police in front of the US Consulate in Mumbai to make international headlines and grab Avinash's attention. Sure enough, Avinash turns up although he is troubled by his wife's illness (she is in a sanitarium for her depression after she accidently kills their only son while backing her car) and is duty-bound to help Inayat's widow and her daughter.

But it is not a simple mission. For, although ISIS is a declining force, it is almost impossible to extract someone from their strongholds in Syria. He seeks the help of security expert Dr Khan (Anupam Kher) and the CIA. The radicalized family, in the meantime, along with Aliya, is ensconced in a safe house in ISIS stronghold where there are stringent restrictions and brutal punishment for deviating. Their mobile phones and laptops are confiscated. The ISIS has interest in the third son, Sameer, who is a US-trained pilot. Aliya somehow retains one of her phones and messages her dad (not knowing he is dead) and her mother replies to her informing that uncle Avinash will rescue her. She sends pictures and location and also downloads a virus in her husband's laptop as directed by Avinash. The CIA plays a hard game with Avinash who knows he cannot do it without their help. Simultaneously he explores other options like contacting a oil smuggler to explore the possibility of bringing back Aliya on one of his trips back and a Gujarati restaurant owner in Morocco who has business interests with the ISIS to find out if he can enter their stronghold. The first part of the series (4 episodes) ends with the planning and the second part promises to be a fitting finale.

Mohit Raina is excellent as the former Mumbai cop who has gone international. He has the build for the part and executes the limited action scenes (more are promised later when he will do the actual extraction) expertly. The others in the cast are adequate but Balaji Gauri as Farhat Khala is menacing. The Freelancer is definitely worth a watch.