Nelson Venkatesan’s ‘Farhana’ gives Aishwarya Rajesh a fine chance to shine in the midst of a middling thriller

Posted on May 12, 2023


Spoilers ahead…

The director focuses on his heroine’s face, her expressive eyes – and Aishwarya gives us everything from timidity to disgust to fear to controlled rage.


With Oru Naal Koothu, Nelson Venkatesan showed us he could do drama. The film was a sobering look at modern-day marriage. His next film, the very entertaining Monster, was a total U-turn: it was a live-action cartoon about a man who battles a rat. With Farhana, the director proves that he really does not want to be slotted in any genre-box: broadly speaking, this is a thriller. But after a clumsily staged opening stretch (which exaggerates a certain kind of “danger” that awaits free-spirited women), we land in a drama very much like Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar. A middle-class woman (Farhana, played by Aishwarya Rajesh) takes up a job to ease the financial pressure on her family. In both films, the father-in-law disapproves, and in both films, the job is rather unconventional. In the 1960s, when women were meant to be homemakers, Ray’s heroine stepped out and became a door-to-door saleswoman. In Farhana’s case, the job is at a call centre, where she sex-chats with men. The hitch is that she is a devout Muslim.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil