Shahid Kapoor ditches formula for OTT thriller 'Farzi' releasing February 10 in UAE

The Bollywood star and 'Farzi' creators Raj & DK spoke to City Times about the new show that revolves around a counterfeit artist

Shahid Kapoor in 'Farzi'
Shahid Kapoor in 'Farzi'

Enid Grace Parker

Published: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 4:37 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Feb 2023, 4:55 PM

While he’s won millions of hearts in feel-good romances like Jab We Met and Ishk Vishk, Bollywood star Shahid Kapoor has never been afraid to take on dark or flawed characters, occasionally dishing out gems like Haider, Kaminey and the underrated social drama Batti Gul Meter Chalu, and proving beyond doubt to a discerning audience that there’s more to him than youthful good looks and charm.

Over two decades in a film industry where breaking free from formula is the exception rather than the norm, Shahid has built up an impressive repertoire and is now preparing for his OTT debut.

And who better to team up with for this career milestone than Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK? Known collectively as Raj & DK, the writing-producing-directing duo has churned out offbeat fare like Go Goa Gone, Shor in the City, and most recently, critically acclaimed OTT series The Family Man.

Shahid plays Sunny, an artist who gets caught up in a high stakes counterfeiting job, in Raj & DK’s new 8-part web series Farzi, which also features Tamil star Vijay Sethupathi as an unorthodox, fiery cop.

In a Zoom interaction with City Times, Shahid commented on this new phase of his career, saying “it doesn’t feel very different” to be working on a streaming series rather than a film for the big screen.

“I know people are using the word ‘debut’, but the fact is that it’s another job, and you start with that kind of childish excitement and curiosity before every project. Of course, this is a long format and it’s going to be viewed differently from how a film is viewed most of the time, so one is conscious of that and I’m curious to see how people respond to that.”

DK said Farzi is different from anything the duo has worked on earlier. “It’s a very unique and special concept; I don’t think it’s ever been done on screen before, in any format for that matter, the world we are showing and creating.”

'Farzi' creators Raj & DK
'Farzi' creators Raj & DK

Raj added, “So the idea was, let’s do it against the backdrop of counterfeiting, a very unique backdrop; it’s a white collar crime, or actually a faceless crime that we don’t even know about. Then we were waiting to see how to develop the main protagonist. Once we hit upon the idea to bring in art into counterfeiting, art that can make a perfect note, then we had an idea that we hadn’t seen before and it kept us fueled for many years to get this subject going.”

DK remarked that Shahid had always been “the first choice” for the project. “He’s as old as the project itself. It’s like, from the day the idea was conceived, he’s been a part of it.”

Shahid admitted that he found everything about Farzi “fresh and different.”

“It was written with a lot of quirk, drama and action. So it had a really unique blend of different moods, characters and backdrop. We’ve seen so many shows that are about gangsters… or all kinds of criminals, but I don’t think anybody really knows why somebody becomes a counterfeiter or where they come from; like Raj said, it’s a faceless kind of crime. So, everything about Farzi was fresh; I just wanted to be a part of something like that, and Raj & DK were people whose work I was really enjoying. We had kind of discussed this idea as a film earlier - it all just happened, I guess it was meant to happen like that!”

Elaborating how Farzi and his character Sunny have added heft to his repertoire, Shahid said, “Every story, if it is original, every character, if it is written well and offers you something new to do, should bring out something new in you. It’s not the best thing to keep repeating yourself. And, I think of the material I have read in the last 5-7 years, this is one of the freshest. So Sunny for me is a very different, very original and very fresh character. At the same time, I think that Sunny has all the nuances of me that people have enjoyed - he’s edgy, he’s a little irreverent, he’s anti-establishment, so to speak, he doesn’t like the system of rich and poor, he’s a middle class guy who calls himself a ‘middle finger class guy.' He’s young, he’s a guy off the street, he’s an artist who wants to express himself and I think that’s the angst of the youth today. I don’t think they feel understood. I feel like the twenty-somethings today are far more exposed than a 35 or 40-year-old, so they always struggle with that because they have no experience and they’re younger so nobody takes them seriously, but they probably have a lot to say, and I think that also comes through in Sunny’s character really well in the show.”

Farzi is not all-serious and one-dimensional however, but, as is evident in the trailer, a thrilling ride laced with humour - one of Raj & DK’s trademarks. How important was it to bring in that element to a show like this?

Shahid joked, “They can’t help themselves! Raj & DK - they tell themselves ‘we’re going to take the scene really seriously’ and then they just come up with three great punchlines and nobody can say ‘no’ - what do you do?”

“I think a good message goes down well with a slightly tongue-in-cheek, funny pill, rather than being serious about whatever it is that we’re saying,” said DK, adding, “It’s always organic, we don’t look for gags, we don’t try to find a joke to throw in, it just naturally flows.

Raj believes a lot of things can be said through humour that would “otherwise be maybe cheesy or preachy.”

The presence of acting heavyweights like Vijay Sethupathi and Kay Kay Menon (who plays the outlandish counterfeit kingpin Mansoor Dalal) has also drawn a considerable amount of attention to Farzi. Fans appear excited to see Shahid and Vijay Sethupathi together for the first time on screen.

Shahid Kapoor calls his character Sunny 'an artist who wants to express himself'
Shahid Kapoor calls his character Sunny 'an artist who wants to express himself'

“I was really happy to have somebody as brilliant as him and as refined an artist and a huge star to fill the cop’s role,” said Shahid when asked about his experience of working with Sethupathi.

“Every character has his own journey in Farzi and we needed great actors to do it. When you see the trailer, every shot has so much value because somebody so substantial is in it. It was great working with him (Sethupathi). He comes across as this pure artist; he wants to do new, different stuff. He’s very instinctive, much like how I am! He comes up with things just before the shot, and that’s always very exciting. I like it when it’s not predictable. I really enjoyed myself.”

Actors Bhuvan Arora, Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, Raashi Khanna and Amol Palekar at the trailer launch of web series 'Farzi'
Actors Bhuvan Arora, Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, Raashi Khanna and Amol Palekar at the trailer launch of web series 'Farzi'

Will Farzi strike a chord with Shahid’s local fanbase? He recalled the excitement of waiting for the first reviews of his Bollywood films, as they always released in UAE a day earlier than India.

“I just spent a few months in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, shooting a film with Ali Abbas Zafar which will be out some time this year. I’ve always loved coming that side; it’s very close to home and it feels very much like home because there are a lot of Indians, Asians, people who watch our movies. So I’m thankful and full of a lot of love for all those people who watch our movies.”

Farzi releases February 10 on Amazon Prime Video.

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