Haseena Parkar is not a crime film; neither is it a serious drama; nor an emotional tale; and certainly not a melancholic account of some of the darkest periods in Mumbai’s history, orchestrated from the shadows by one hellishly powerful lady. Instead, it’s such an absurd retelling of its titular character’s journey that it ends up being a cross between an unintentionally comical film, a superficial love story, and a down-market reality show, which, when combined together, have the malignant might to give you ulcers the size of potatoes. Wonder how that’s possible? Allow us the chance to explain.
First and foremost, you get the impression halfway through the film that the only way it could have turned out to be this bad and factually distorted is if the entire team made it while being incredibly high, or if a certain supremo of a certain ‘D-gang’ got his henchmen to hold the cast and crew at gunpoint while they shot the film. Right from the get go, Director Apporva Lakhia desperately tries to glorify Haseena Parkar’s life and begs us to sympathize with her perils, conveniently forgetting that it’s really not all that difficult to know what the woman was all about in this day and age of easily accessible information. Here’s a woman who had a hand in everything from money laundering and extortions to ordering hits and presiding over the cable mafia. Certain leeway in a film based on facts is always permissible in the name of cinematic demands, but a complete 360° turnaround from what actually happened is something inexplicable to even the most-forgiving of viewers.
The film begins with the courtroom trial of Haseena, played as earnestly by Shraddha Kapoor as a school kid attempting his/her first drawing. In fact, the only sympathizing factor in a movie imploring our sympathies is Shraddha’s desire to step out of her comfort zone. As the trial proceeds, Haseena’s life (or should we say, Apoorva’s delusions of her life) unfolds through several multi-hued flashbacks. Her initial days come across like something straight out of frothy Yash Raj romance, where her husband (Ankur Bhatia) is the Dharavi/Nagpada version of the proverbial NRI Raj or Rahul. The poor chap, just like his poor wife, had nothing to do with the criminal activities of his brother-in-law, and his assassination at the hands of a rival gang was nothing but fate dealing a cruel hand. Sadly, we couldn’t find our fake tears at the fakery of it all.
Moving on to graver horizons, Haseena’s brother (played by Shraddha’s actual brother, Siddhanth Kapoor), he-who-must-not-be-named – quite literally, since the makers shy away from using his real name in the film – is depicted as the perpetually misunderstood chap born on the wrong side of the tracks. Right from the cops being shown as the reason for his soul turning evil to him being forced to leave his sister when he flees the country to even an excuse being made for his hand in the 1993 Mumbai blasts; Haseena’s big bro is nothing more than a conflicted individual who chose to vent his frustrations in a harsher manner than the rest of us usually do. There’s even a scene where brother and sister weep over a phone-call; missing each other; consoling each other; trying to pull at our heartstrings; which have lost their elasticity a long time ago.
Even if Haseena Parkar wasn’t so factually inaccurate, it would have still been a terrible film purely based on filmmaking standards. The dialogues are so cringe-worthy that lines from a Ramsay brothers’ movie have a better chance of winning the Oscar and National Award in the same year. The scenes are so badly disjointed that they look like they were edited at the eleventh hour on a cellphone. And Apoorva’s direction is so atrocious that it completely overshadows the deplorability of Shraddha and Siddhanth’s performances put together.
For instance, saas-bahu daily soaps have had courtroom sequences with more credibility than the one shown in Haseena, which rolls out like a sloppy reality program shown at late hours, when most of the world couldn’t care less to switch on their TV sets. The two lawyers arguing Haseena’s case make for an adorable, real-life Tom-and-Jerry duo while the judge presiding over the case takes the cake, the baker, and the entire bakery with his zoned-out act. He appears so directionless about what to do (either because of Apoorva forgetting to brief him or the producers not paying him) that he oscillates between motivating both lawyers to do a better job and pacifying them when they lose their bearings. At one point, he keeps staring at Shraddha like he’ll leap out of his seat any minute and propose marriage to her.
It’s high time Bollywood filmmakers stopped expecting us to understand the hardships and sympathize with people who’ve been responsible for unspeakable acts. It’s also about time that they started taking their audience seriously and give us better films on a more consistent basis.
Movified Rating: 1.5/5 (the 0.5 is for the unintentionally funny moments)
Images Source: Swiss Entertainment