I watched Haraamkhor when it released. I am writing this now because I’ve gotten obsessed. I’ve not gotten obsessed with the movie itself, but I am obsessed with how desperately the movie tries to be a masterpiece, and ends up being just an okay movie. Haraamkhor starts with two teenage boys in a small Indian town. These two kids are at the brink of losing innocence and are about to take the plunge towards a life of misdeeds and crime. We see their energies inappropriately channeled, and no checks for crossing boundaries. These kids study at a school where studies don’t matter, and people in general have no idea of discovery. This happens a lot in a small towns in our country where parents of such children have had a life of no self-discovery, unending labor, and meagre ambitions. They stop their kids from taking extra food rather than stopping them from stealing.
All of this makes for a compelling narrative. However, Haraamkhor tries to be Yellow Ribbon with satire. It has all the elements from Yellow Ribbon. There is pedophilia, criminal minded teenagers, sexually charged teenagers, horrible adults, parents hiding truths from their children, a town so scarily disconnected from the outside world that its kids are on the brink of self-destruction. The movie contains a couple of hilarious scenes. But, aarrrggghhh! How frustrating can an Indian indie get? There were times I could barely hear anything. Anything at all. Siddiqui’s and Shweta Tripathi’s character in a scene are trying to fix a scooter, and they are just mumbling their way through it. They cracked a couple of jokes and everyone in my row was wondering what the heck they were saying.
And, for a very, very long time, nothing happens in this movie. Kids are running here and there. Nawazuddin’s character is being a mature flirtatious teacher, getting his sexual innuendo satisfied as soon as he knows there’s a chance. And how many times will he actually play a character like this? He’s played a similar character in Gangs of Wasseypur, Talaash, Raman Raghav 2.0, and heck even in Lion! A good amount of time in the movie is spent in trying to show how artistic and how directed this movie is, but a very little time is spent in actually telling the movie. For example, in a scene when Tripathi’s character tells Siddiqui’s character that she has missed her period, you see it coming from a mile. They then head to a town for a checkup, where the nurse in the clinic turns out to be his father’s girlfriend. A lot of emphasis over here is spent in building the moment with subtlety for maximum impact, but the result is a bland, pale, and bloodless moment asking for gasps merely getting frowns in return.
The lack of mystery totally cripples this movie, as the movie drags from the incident to another, I started yawning. There is no build-up to the happenings. For example, one of the kids is attracted to Tripathi’s character and sneaks on her life. He sneaks through her washroom and sees her undress. His friend tells him that if a boy and a girl see each other naked, they are married and become a couple. For a long time this equation isn’t played with, and suddenly after a while has passed in the story, they build a costume that can get this kid naked suddenly. Now this makes for an amusing moment, but the way it comes to you a disjointed, sudden plot extension straight out of nowhere. This is the primary problem of the film. The story rarely moves organically. It is thrown at you with a showy construction that continuously reminds you that you are watching a story.
And let me get to the climax tho. Yeah. That climax tho! Holy FUCK! Can people stop doing this? Getting everyone in one place and killing ‘em all? Is there no other way to end a story? Every fucking Indie is doing this. Take Udta Punjab, Kaminey, Dedh Ishqiya or whatever the fuck. Plus, in Kaminey, there was a reason for everyone to converge. In this movie, there’s no fucking reason. Siddiqui happens to see these idiots wear his stolen clothes and run around, and know that these kids did the thing that they did. Seriously? So much for unpredictability? Plus, these kids are the characters we start the movie with, look at most intimately, and end our film with. What is their contribution to the story? Null. Nope. Nothing. They are there for comedic relief, and, well…climax. A climax which is muddled, stupid, illogical, violent, and irritating. That’s a weird tonal shift that again feels like someone telling me that there is a director somewhere. I mean come on, dear Bollywood. Please, try to feel a little bit more. Please? No, don’t get overhyper and give us Karan Malhorta’s Agneepath. And, yes, this movie does show that you can do it. But at-least, don’t be so bloodless that you end up a zombie. And, you know, with the bloodless, it gets harder to sympathize.