‘Fairy Folk’ movie review: An unusual urban fantasy that exposes the reality of corroding relationships

Director Karan Gaur gives an abstract feeling a cogent shape in this empathetic independent film that deals with the complexities of love, sexuality, and identity

Published - March 05, 2024 01:22 pm IST

A still from ‘Fairy Folk’ 

A still from ‘Fairy Folk’  | Photo Credit: @EmpatheiaFilms/YouTube

As marriages age, weird expectations start taking root in the minds of most couples. What if these unfulfilled or pent-up feelings give birth to a creature that enters their physical space? The absurdist idea gets a magic realist treatment in this impressive piece of independent cinema that leaves you emotionally stirred.

Directed by Karan Gour, who efficiently navigated the convoluted alleys of matrimony in Kshay (2012), Fairy Folk is about Ritika and Mohit, a normal urban pair who are hardly surprised by anything and lead a transactional life. One night, they come across a strange being (Nikhil Desai) amid Arrey forest in Mumbai. Mildly scared, they leave their car in the forest and take a cab back home but are surprised to find that it has followed them to their living space.

In the beginning, it looks like a walking mannequin, but, gradually, we discover that the forest and the creature are manifestations of the unfulfilled desires of the couple in their relationship. Bringing sci-fi home, Karan maintains an even-textured relationship between the literal and the metaphorical. And in Mukul Chadda and Rasika Dugal, he has two competent actors who happen to be a real-life couple. Their easy chemistry is so believable that the triangle, sorry, the quadrangle that emerges starts giving goosebumps after a point.

Fairy Folk (English/ Hindi)
Director: Karan Gour
Cast: Mukul Chadda, Rasika Dugal, Chandrachoor Rai, Asmit Pathare, Nikhil Desai
Runtime: 100 minutes
Synopsis: When a genderless figure walks into the lives of an urban couple, it take the lid off their worn out relationship

The proceedings give an impression Ritika contributes majorly to running the house, leaving Mohit with a lot of time and complexities to deal with. When the strange creature, which is without hair, genitalia, and pulse, enters their space, Mohit finds a job. He starts training it as if he is feeding artificial intelligence into it.

Elated with the progress of the newfound robot that is almost fulfilling the purpose of a housemaid, one night, in a moment of indiscretion, Mohit comes a little too close to its protege. The next day, he finds that it has turned into a younger, more vivacious version of him. They call it Kabir (Chandrachoor Rai). However, soon Kabir’s presence fills Mohit with unease as he finds that Ritika is increasingly getting physically and emotionally closer to Kabir. Feeling left out, Mohit also seeks a better version of Ritika and returns to the woods to find one more creature. But this time the experiment goes a bit awry as he gets a transwoman who calls herself Hansa (Asmit Pathare). It spikes a conversation on gender and identity and what we seek from our partners. Is it the appearance or the emotional core that makes a relationship last? Mohit doesn’t get physically attracted to Hansa but in her company, he can express himself better.

Without indulging in lessons on moral science, Gour, displaying his hold on the craft, gently takes us to the wall to show the mirror and the result is disturbing. Rasika embodies the changes in Ritika so organically that any spouse would feel unsettled. Mohit is equally competent as the spouse fixated on a mirage.

Fairy Folk begins like an urban fantasy that demands suspension of disbelief but, by the end, you feel like wanting to willingly surrender to its discomforting spell of magic realism that lingers.

Fairy Folk is currently running in theatres

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