NYIFF 2017 Film Review “Shreelancer”



First, the Recap:

To get out and see the world. It’s an age-old notion so firmly ensconced in our souls, especially when young and impressionable, yet often becomes a forgotten idea when the seemingly endless responsibilities of life emerge to stifle our momentum. Or we simply get lazy, perhaps still desiring that freedom, but struggling to locate it. In the bustling cafes of Bangalore so resides one particular soul named Shreepad Naik (Arjun Radhakrishnan), a freelance copywriter who’s more than a mite fed up with having to compose cheesy, uninspired ads for his boss Satheesh or stumbling over how to perfectly word someone’s obituary. Beyond that, it’s simply a totally unfulfilled life, topped off by pressure from his father (Salmin Sheriff) to find gainful, well-paid employment.

With his restlessness mounting and having an almost crippling bout of self-doubt weighing him down, an unexpected trip to Chandigarh at the behest of his friend Ravi to attend his wedding begins to allow Shree to experience places and people previously unknown to him. But, when events involving Ravi’s friends take a nasty turn, Shree then finds himself stuck in an ever-changing flood of circumstances that propel him through danger, exhilaration, anger, sadness, but most importantly an awakening inside that prompts a much more lucid and deep contemplation of who he is and what he’s actually capable of. Yet, even as he finds his way back home, how do you return to what’s “normal” in the face of life-altering adventure and ultimate affirmation?

Next, my Mind:

Delivered with an articulate and undeniably relatable sense of character-based drama, humor, and music-driven escape combined with many poignant moments of atmospheric reverie, writer/director Sandeep Mohan’s feature film effort drives it’s narrative’s themes of wanting to escape monotony, finding purpose, being encouraged in your worth, standing strong for your dreams, weathering doubts, overcoming the odds, and realizing life’s path with emotionally-charged and very clear-sighted intent. This is the life adventure we all have within us, the call to step outside what we know and just be. Bangalore cafes and mildly overbearing fathers give way to gorgeous mountains, criminals, zany tourists, a little “love”, and an amazingly fresh perspective on existence itself, all of which enhance Shree’s ideologies via complete cultural immersion via peril, religion, friendship, and natural beauty.

Radhakrishnan is a marvel in his performance as Shree, infusing the character with such a believably innate sense of innocence, frustration, drive, passion, and smothered, almost burned out belief that he can offer anything of value artistically. The captivating journey Shree ends up on so radically influences his outlook on everything he’s been a part of and now will be, that it is virtually impossible not to feel all he encompasses while discovering it, and this is just superbly enacted by Radhakrishnan. The moments where true reconnection with his father occurs is nothing short of inspired, so filled with raw human connection. Supporting turns of note abound, including wonderfully rendered acting from Sheriff as Shree’s straightforward, practical, and somewhat testy father, whose ideas about what Shree should be about greatly clash with his son’s notions. It’s a humorous and dramatic turn here.

Additional points go to Monica Mahendru as one of Ravi’s friends and aspiring restaurateur, Cesar Lorente Raton as a rather eccentric French pastor, Francisca Emilia Papale as his woman who perhaps might not be as loyal to him as he thinks, and Ajay Srivastava as an NGO operator.  Hence, in total, “Shreelancer” is a fantastically entertaining independent film with a potent life message we can all very much relate to on some level. It’s the call to view ourselves through Shree’s eyes , take on a willingness to acknowledge stagnation, and find the fortitude to simply walk forward to the edge of what we think isn’t possible, then choose to take the leap.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


Leave a Reply