Making the best use of one’s given time, the consequences of seemingly innocuous careless moments, the inexorability of fate and the possibility of grace are the inevitable or inescapable themes of “Shreelancer”, the third film from director Sandeep Mohan. His previous films were “Hola Venky” and “Love Wrinkle-free”. “Shreelancer” is a character-driven drama that gives you an insight into the life of Shreepad Naik (Arjun Radhakrishnan), a Bengaluru-based Maharashtrian who is a qualified engineer.
Shreepad is established as a conscientious and caring son who by quirk of fate is destined to work as a freelance copywriter. Operating from various cafes, he dishes out mundane adverts and copies ranging “from love letters to obituaries”. His colleagues are envious of him for having a flexible schedule and having the opportunity to “check-out chicks”. But the reality, he reveals, is “No salary, no money, no chicks”.
He is also under pressure from his father (Salmin Sheriff) who constantly prods him to take up a normal “monthly-salaried-job”. How he manages to convince his orthodox father to accept his lifestyle forms the crux of this indie film.
The film begins like an upbeat film meandering at its own pace, then suddenly at mid-point it gets brutally shocking and thence the plot changes course offering slightly eerie but thrilling moments. The second half takes a few cinematic liberties but largely stays focussed.
The scenes are holistic and the direction simple and non-fussed, taking the viewer from Bengaluru to Chandigarh to Manali to Kerala and back to Bengaluru. Shot on location using guerrilla tactics, the visuals capture the natural beauty of the locales and every frame is praise-worthy — be it the vast landscapes or the indoor shots. The writing, buoyant and creatively cheerful, is bolstered by natural performances from its efficient star cast.
Arjun Radhakrishnan as the restless Shree, weighed down by self-doubt about his artistic passion, is certainly more sympathetic than appealing, but nevertheless he delivers efficiently. It is touching to watch him pragmatically reply to his dad that he would be fine after his (dad’s) death.
Theatre actor Salmin Sheriff as Shree’s concerned dad, is equally endearing. Their on screen father-son bonding, though detached, is palpable. Each and every actor in the supporting cast is equally forthcoming and brilliant with their respective performances.
The soundtrack of the film has a gentle, moody background score by Vivek Philip and is peppered by song tracks by Ankur Tewari, Prateek Kuhad, Andrew Solomon and Natalie Matos. It definitely elevates the viewing experience. Overall, this film, with a feel-good approach, surely surpasses one’s expectations.
Film: “Shreelancer”; Director: Sandeep Mohan; Cast: Arjun Radhakrishnan, Salmin Sheriff, Monica Mahendru, Cesar Lorente Raton, Francisca Emilia Papale and Ajay Srivastava; Rating: **1/2