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


In the realm of matrimony, as the years stack up, so do the expectations. Couples often find themselves wrestling with a tangle of unspoken desires and strained communications. Imagine if these bottled-up emotions could conjure a tangible presence in the lives of such couples. This is the spellbinding premise that Karan Gour weaves in his latest film, Fairy Folk, an unusual urban fantasy that both startles and captivates the audience with its magical realist flair.

The independent cinema has seen its share of narratives exploring marriage, but Gour’s treatment of the subject stands out for its originality and emotional resonance. The director, lauded for his exploration of similar themes in his previous film Kshay (2012), brings us the story of Ritika and Mohit, a quintessential urban couple who find their daily existence riddled with routine and compromise. Their lives take an unexpected turn one fateful evening in the dense Arrey Forest of Mumbai, when they happen upon an enigmatic being (Nikhil Desai). Their initial trepidation gives way to astonishment as this entity—seemingly alien—follows them home.

Initially appearing inanimate, akin to a mannequin, the creature gradually reveals itself to be a physical embodiment of the duo’s unfulfilled longings within their marriage. Gour adeptly blurs the lines between the literal and the allegorical, asking the audience to reassess the fabric of reality within the confines of a relationship. This is complemented by the authentic performances of Mukul Chadda and Rasika Dugal who, being partners in real life, deftly portray the couple with an innate chemistry that genuinely supports the subsequent emotional turmoil.

Through the course of the film, it is suggested that Ritika is the primary force holding the household together, leaving Mohit feeling somewhat redundant and fraught with complexities. The arrival of the strange, featureless being offers him an unexpected project. He begins to train the creature as though he were infusing it with artificial intelligence, much like one would with a robotic companion. His burgeoning satisfaction is palpable when this enigmatic being starts to serve the household like an advanced housemaid.

One night, personal boundaries are crossed, and Mohit finds himself too close to his protégé, leading to a stunning transition where the creature evolves into a youthful, vibrant semblance of him, given the name Kabir (Chandrachoor Rai). Eventually, Mohit’s initial triumph turns to disquiet as he notices Ritika developing a growing closeness to Kabir, both physically and emotionally. In response to his jealousy and isolation, Mohit ventures back to the forest in search of another creature, this time finding a transwoman named Hansa (Asmit Pathare), leading to poignant discussions surrounding gender, identity, and the true essence of partnership.

The film does not preach but instead gracefully guides its viewers to confront their own reflections in these complex situations. The performances are nuanced, with Rasika Dugal embodying the shifting dynamics of Ritika’s character with unsettling authenticity. Chadda ensures Mohit is portrayed with depth, presenting a spouse ensnared by illusion.

Fairy Folk begins as a seemingly fantastical tale that requires a suspension of disbelief, but as Gour’s narrative unfolds, the viewer is compelled to embrace its discomfiting enchantment. It morphs from urban fantasy into a profound commentary on the scars of love and the ethereal quality of emotional connection. The film speaks to those willing to be entranced by its uniquely magical realism, which resonates long after the end credits roll.

Fairy Folk is currently enchanting audiences in theaters, casting a spell that both connects and confronts, inviting moviegoers into an intimate kaleidoscope of marital intimacy and estrangement inspired by the mystical forces that lie just beneath the surface of ordinary life.

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