For Real is told from the eyes of a little girl (Zoya Hassan), who has some definite haunting images of her past. An intrinsically scared kid who goes into a shell every time she comes in touch with her mother (Sarita) only to become a lot happier when in company of her father (Adil), Zoya isn't one of those normal child. She sees flashes from the past where she finds her mother cajoling her in an open field or being all troubled within her own household. With director Sona Jain not allowing any image to last beyond a flash, there is curiosity to know what happened in the past.
As an audience, you do find the story gripping as this upper class couple, despite having a spread out farmhouse in upmarket New Delhi and an influential social circle, is not in a happily 'ever after' mode. A cold war brews between the couple, as Sarita intends to go back to her roots (she was a pop star once) in the West even as her doctor husband inspires her to stay put in India and nurture her dream. In the middle of all this, there is a third angle, a debonair guy (Sameer Dharmadhikari), who may or may not be having an affair with the lady of the house.
With a setting like this and a real feel to the narrative, you do feel that the title For Real is justified. As the tension builds with Zoya turning strange with every passing day, medical help is sought. Images from the past form the basis and there is soon a revelation. However, it is at this juncture that the entire tale falls flat because even though most part of this revelation is on predictable grounds, the impact it had on Zoya's life belongs more to copy-book format with the psychological aspect taking over the affairs.
Thankfully there is no lecturing and spoon feeding here (as it happens in most Bollywood affairs) but on the other hand, it is also difficult to fathom that the cause could have been so strong to make such a deep impact in the girl's psyche. Ok, so there may have been a case file that would have been the basis for this but still the entire premise looks a little too set up and designed rather than natural.
The film is salvaged to some extent by the cast which comes up with an absolute real act. While you do expect Sarita to do well, it is Adil who impresses most with his balanced performance. It is hard to believe that he is the same guy who played a rustic small town goon (as Vidya Balan's husband) in 'Ishqiya'. The ease with which he familiarises himself with upmarket Delhi and gains a body language and mannerism to suit the tone is commendable.
As for Sameer Dharmadhikari, you do demand more of him on screen. Zoya is plain average and even though the demand of her role may have been to maintain a single expression right through the film, it just doesn't work in 'For Real'.
Ok, so the oft repeated statement, which is made when you walk into watching an offbeat film is - 'Wear a different hat than the one which you wear for a regular commercial masala flick'. Point taken and hence expectations are pretty much kept in check before stepping into 'For Real'. Given the title, synopsis, star-cast and publicity design, you know that 'For Real' is going to be a different film altogether. You also believe that it won't be one of those quintessential films by any means and instead take a peep into the life of a family up, close and personal.
As it turns out, despite all these set expectations, For Real turns out to be an ordinary affair which has a good setting to it; sees some good execution for most of its part as well but doesn't quite end on a satisfactory note that would have made audience sit back and think. A pity because with super strong performance by the lead couple (Sarita Choudhury and Adil Hussain), one would have just been a lot more content had the film's ending been more convincing.
Director: Sona Jain
Cast: Sarita Choudhury, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Zoya Hasan