FIR is a powerful, fast-paced thriller that hits all the right notes in the first half, with director Manu Anand deftly alternating between scenes from Irfan’s life and the NIA’s investigation. FIR is a well-made, fast-moving thriller. A Muslim chemical engineer has been suspected of being a terrorist on the run. Can he clear his name?
Critic’s Rating: 3.0/5
FIR Movie Review:
What’s in a name, anyway? If you’re a Muslim, it’s a lot, according to FIR. A police officer who has captured a suspected terrorist receives a call from his superior, who requests the man’s identity. “Why am I not surprised?” he retorts when he hears it’s Irfan Ahmed.
FIR, like Vishwaroopam, is a thriller set against the backdrop of terrorism that aims to demonstrate how incorrect it is to hold a whole community responsible for the awful atrocities perpetrated by a few members of that same group. Irfan Ahmed (Vishnu Vishal, who fully commits to the role and gives us a solid portrayal) is a chemical engineer from IIT-Madras who is irritated that his faith is a point of contention during interviews.
His mother (Maala Parvathy), a lower-level policewoman, appears to be having a nice life with him.
Meanwhile, the National Intelligence Agency receives information that Abu Bakkar Abdullah, their most sought terrorist, is in Chennai, preparing operations in Colombo and India. Ajay Dewan, the National Security Advisor (Gautham Vasudev Menon, in a position that calls for more of his screen presence and stature), assembles a squad to seek him down. Irfan comes on their radar as they conduct surveillance on a Muslim cleric named Zazi Manzul (Amaan). Circumstances cause them to conclude that Irfan is Abu Bakkar, and they even place him under arrest. Is it possible for Irfan to cleanse his reputation when no one believes he is innocent?
What happens to the storyline of Abu Bakkar? FIR is a powerful, fast-paced thriller that hits all the right notes in the first half, with director Manu Anand deftly alternating between scenes from Irfan’s life and the NIA’s investigation. Prarthana (Manjima Mohan, excellent), a criminal lawyer who is friends with Irfan, Anisha Qureshi (Raiza Wilson, remarkable), a no-nonsense NIA officer, and Gunashekar (Praveen Muthurangan), a lower-ranking officer who gets a significant break in the investigation, are among the interesting supporting characters.
To make his story feel extremely genuine, the filmmaker cleverly incorporates real-life terror incidents, particularly the Easter Sunday Colombo bombs. Irfan’s transformation into a suspect is also nicely depicted. We can see how stereotyping plays a big part in this. At one point, a character informs Irfan that he has received attention because of his name, and you realize that this is true. Even the romance tune between Irfan and Archana (a surprise, Reba Monica John) doesn’t stand out and is sweet.
If the first half felt rushed, the second half feels rushed as well.
The picture, which had appeared to be pretty grounded in reality up until that point, begins to drift into over-the-top terrain, with sequences that make us doubt their credibility. There’s also a touch of motherly feeling that’s off-kilter with the rest of the movie (just like the scenes involving a hacker, played by Prashanth). We do get a twist that helps to explain some of Irfan’s behavior, but it also raises a new set of issues. As a result, the conclusion, which has echoes of The Family Man and Vishwaroopam, isn’t as suspenseful as it could be.
Thankfully, the film’s quick editing (by GK Prasanna) and throbbing background soundtrack (by Ashwath) keep it moving at a blazing pace. They manage to divert our attention away from logic in order to keep us interested in the picture.
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