Star Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shweta Tripathi
Director: Shlok Sharma
What’s Good: The light handling of a serious subject results in unexpected humour.
What’s Bad: The story loses its steam in the second half.
Loo Break: During the second half.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for its highly entertaining first half and the spectacular performance of Nawazuddin Siddhiqui
Poetically named Shyam (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi) are lovers who aren’t very afraid of the stigma that surrounds teacher-student relationships. What doesn’t help their relationship is the fact that she is still a minor. Another angle to this story is added by Kamal (Irfan Khan) who, with the encouragement of his quirky friend Mintu (Mohd Samad), is trying very hard to win Sandhya’s love.
The beliefs and misconceptions of these characters make up for the story of Haraamkhor. The environment is also populated by Shyam’s wife – who ironically also used to be his student – and Sandhya’s single father who is secretly courting with a woman who is soon to become Sandhya’s stepmother.
Haraamkhor’s writers have laid a great deal of stress on not making this film a subjective judgement of Shyam’s character. While they have pretty much succeeded in doing that, what’s missing is good pacing. The story slows down considerably in the second half, where more time is spent on establishing metaphors and contrasts, before the narrative unexpectedly spirals towards a dark ending.
What makes the film enjoyable are its uniquely crafted situations. There’s as much humour here as there is drama. A kid dressed as Shaktimaan will have you in splits and so will the interactions between Kamal and Mintu.
Few actors in the industry can embody a character as mind-blowingly as Nawazuddin can. His excellent acting is an essential part of the experience that Haraamkhor is. Never does he overdo an emotion or show even the slightest of signs of an unconvincing expression.
Shweta Tripathi complements him well. Hers was a complicated character to portray, but she pulled it off brilliantly.
The lady who plays Shyam’s wife deserves a special mention for her unflinching acting, and so does the kid who plays Mintu.
Shlok Sharma has given us a film that tries to explore a taboo relationship between an adult and a minor. But the grave nature of this situation is never the focus. Instead, the focus lies on the situations that arise from thereon. His expert direction is glaringly visible in how natural the scenes look.
The village setting has been excellently harnessed, while the camera work also deserves plaudits. The director also subtly tries to make statements on what’s accepted and what’s not in our society, but that is in no way what the subject or rather the purpose of this film is.
The music by Jasleen Royal is to the point and has been appropriately composed for each situation. It also never ower powers the scenes, letting the actors be the real heroes in them.
Haraamkhor starts off as a very enjoyable film that’s filled with funny situations, unique characters and an overall enjoyable aura. But in the second half the story seems to take unnecessary turns, slowing its pace down. It will still be a delight to watch for those who admire the genius that is Nawazuddin Siddiqui.