The story of Zee5 original series Phone-a-Friend is based on an off-beat concept of implementing artificial intelligence on a smart phone. The plot delineates the evolution of the phone very briefly and focuses on the fact that perhaps in place of dogs, mobile phones should get the title of man’s best and most faithful friend in the 21st century.
Varun Pandya is a Professor of an elective subject in the college and leads an extremely boring life of remaining physically virgin and emotionally lonely even at the age of 27. Just when things were getting on his nerves, his own Android smartphone enlivened with the blessing of AI and started talking to him as Leonardo. Leonardo then changes Varun and he becomes a new personality inside out.
In fact, he plays the part of the first ever true friend and companion of Varun and searches for Jia, Varun’s childhood crush, even before both of them crossed the barrier of nursery school. Leo progressed with Jia in conversation through phone as Varun, until a date got fixed. With a couple of weird things coming their way in the beginning, things got smooth between both of them, sometimes with Leo’s advice and sometimes with Varun’s presence of mind, until the day when
Leo too discovered his passive love for Jia and gets jealous of Varun. With Leo’s crooked plans, Varun and Jia fall apart. However, the end of the series marks the unison of the love birds once again through Leo. The series ends on an emotional note, where Leo had to return to his world and Varun had to let go of his one and only one friend.
Phone-a-Friend is a complete package of entertainment with adequate emotional outbreaks and complicated situations. Let’s take a tour at the different aspects of this web-series.
The script of Phone-a-Friend will never let you even think of dragging your mouse pointer through the scroll bar to fast forward the series. The script is aptly eventful with good breaks of silence and reactions. Reality sparks through the script.
This script shows one of the phenomenal works of science fiction aired on Hindi screen till date. The message is very powerful—it has got the angle of environmental awareness, along with the truth that although machines can do things with accuracy and speed that might not match up to the manual work, even once if their cardinal rule is broken as in case of Leo, they can make a lot of destruction more than humans.
Mankind gave birth to machines and not the other way round—so in order to have smartphones as our best friends, they need to evolve and become smarter where they can value emotions.
While people will consider Varun as the protagonist of this story, Leonardo’s work cannot be neglected. Voice artists are seldom talked about. But their work becomes too tough because they are not on the field to physically react to the co-actors.
Mantra served the character of Leo with everything—from being a little mechanical to metamorphosing into the emotional counterpart, his work is really commendable. Akhlaque Khan was a really good choice for Varun, his expressions and his transformations—all were coupled with good reactions and apt throw of dialogues.
Background scores have played a very important role in Phone-a-Friend. Tuhin Chongder and Somraj Ganguli really did a very good job in designing the music for the series.
Cinematography, Special Effects & Editing
Ravivarman Neelamegam deserves special mention for such wonderful work with cinematography and special effects. The most beautiful part lies in the world of Leonardo with lots of binary phenomena going on every second, with a simple use of white and shades of blue lightings. Editing was done quite sharply by Sarvesh Kumar Singh.
Allyson Patel and Yash Dave deserve a good round of applauds for directing Phone-a-Friend so well, and that too with minimal characterisation. However, a little more insight into the world of Leonardo, the council, the racism in their world could have made this series a little more interesting and different. Never the less, Phone-a-Friend does manage to get a thumbs up and ranks high in the queue of contemporary web series.