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The Freelancer review: The Mohit Raina-Anupam Kher series makes us wait for its thrills

Suddenly, there seems to be a spate of innocent Indian women desperate to get out of the clutches of monstrous ISIS-type characters (The Kerala Story, Akelli). But, equally, there seems to be an emphasis on stereotypic characterisations, where bristling beards, and hijab-wearing women are automatically conflated with terrorist outfits who want to conquer the world.

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‘The Freelancer’, based on Shirish Thorat’s book ‘A Ticket To Syria’, is the story of ex-cop Avinash Kamath (Mohit Raina) who has been forced to drop off the grid, and become a mercenary-for-hire. Busy carrying out daring operations in dangerous global hotspots, when not caring for his fragile wife (Fadnnis), he is drawn back to Mumbai at the horrific death of dear friend and former colleague Inayat Khan (Sushant Singh). Khan’s daughter Aliya (Kashmira Pardeshi) has been kidnapped by her husband and his family, radicalised before you can blink, by, yes, a hijab-wearing harpy who breathes fire and brimstone at ‘na-paak’ Musalmaans who wear western clothes and use make-up.

The girl is somewhere on the Iraq-Syria border, desperately smuggling text messages out to her mother (Ayesha Raza Mishra), while getting increasingly scared for her life. Avinash, taking tips from all-knowing security expert Dr Arif Khan (Anupam Kher), and staving off his enemies within, declares war on the ones outside, with a little bit of help from a couple of CIA types.

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This should have been, at the very least, a serviceable thriller, given that it has Neeraj Pandey (Special Ops, Baby) as creator, and Bhav Dhulia as director. But it makes us wait for its thrills, more a matter of occasional chattering guns, with Avinash once even besting the Mossad, no less, than clever manoeuvring on the field. That cat-and-mouse feeling of danger is missing. Raina, so good in ‘Mumbai Diaries’, tries his best, but the writing is predictable. Kher should have been given more to do. And why have we given only half the series? This kind of actioner needs to be consumed in a gulp, or not at all.

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The Freelancer cast: Mohit Raina, Anupam Kher, Kashmira Pardeshi, Sushant Singh, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Manjari FadnnisThe Freelancer director: Bhav Dhulia

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