Review: Haunted by a childhood trauma, Dr Freddy Ginwala (Kartik Aaryan) lives a fairly monotonous but comfortable life in Mumbai. He is a respected dentist but a lonely guy in his 30’s who has no one to call his own. With no friends except for a tortoise, no lover or parents, he craves companionship. His need borders on desperation as year after year, he gets stood up on dates, mocked and humiliated for his socially awkward existence and shamed for trying his luck with the ladies. Despite his professional success and empathy for those in need, Freddy is perceived as a loser. Things take a drastic turn when he spots Kainaaz (Alaya F) at a wedding. Bitten by the love at first sight bug, Freddy musters up courage and approaches her only to be punched by her husband. The film takes a dramatic turn thereon as a major twist unravels.
Freddy’s thoughts can resonate with Arthur Fleck who wondered, “Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” For director Shashanka Ghosh and writer Parveez Sheikh, Freddy must be Joker (2019) in spirit and Ek Hasina Thi (2004) in execution. You even see Kartik playing the imaginary violin and breaking into Joaquin Phoenix-esque creepy dance moves. The suspense and sinister energy around Freddy is finely mounted, making you immerse in his story. Atmospherics add to the tension established. The latter half however feels sloppy and juvenile. Once the mystery dies down, the psychological thriller turns into a mundane revenge drama that isn’t as gratifying as the initial premise.
It’s good to see that Hindi cinema is warming up to psychological-crime thrillers. The highlight of the film is Kartik Aaryan’s terrific unnerving performance. He is an absolute revelation as Freddy, a wronged man obsessed in love, seething rage and yet calm as a cucumber. The actor has altered his weight, body language, gaze and that trademark smile to play Freddy and the efforts pay off. You will think twice before heading to your dentist, thanks to Kartik and his sociopathic portrayal of the lead character. Alaya F does little to make her presence felt.
Freddy is fairly engaging and unsettling but it wavers to go all out. The film starts off well but doesn’t reach its full potential. It skims through issues of mental health, childhood trauma and its impact on an individual, something that deserved a deeper understanding. You can watch this for Kartik though and his successful brave attempt.