Review: Haraamkhor – An unnerving Lolita like experience which strangely is also quite funny!
Posted on 13 January, 2017 by Team Wishberry
Image Courtesy: Filmi Beat
After a whole lot of struggle (3 years, to be precise) and a court case against the CBFC, Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor finally released in theatres in India. And that in itself is something I was really happy about.
Haraamkhor is the story of three crooked people – Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi), Shyam (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Kamal (Irfan Khan) – who, in the course of the film, explore love, power, anger and eventually themselves.
Sandhya is a lonely 15-year-old motherless kid who is longing for attention and affection; Shyam is a teacher who is happily married to the love of his life yet has a wandering eye and a thirst for more. Kamal is an 11-year-old student who is obsessed with Sandhya. He, along with his friend Mintu (Mohammad Samad), plots an adorable plan to get the girl.
The narrative and the stream of debutante director-writer Shlok’s grainy film (shot on a 16mm) could be compared to the fabulous precision of films from the European Cinema. The story is everything – it’s hilarious while being disturbing, it has a bit of Lolita and is also sprinkled with the innocence of being in love for the first time. All of this while being very desi and very real.
The plot follows the antics of a rural school teacher, Shyam, who gets into a sexual relationship with his 15-year-old student, Sandhya. However, the two aren’t in love. Sandhya is curious and immature and wants someone to want her, while Shyam, simply is opportunistic. Meanwhile, Kamal and Mintu, Sandhya's coaching classmates, are on a mission to get her to notice Kamal’s love for her and get them married. Also, Sandhya’s father who is a cop is an alcoholic, and has been involved in a secret relationship for years.
While the film is heavy on randomness, it is not pointless banter. It leaves subtle hints that will help you understand the characters better; which make it niche and hence is not something that the masses would enjoy.
You’ll laugh multiple times, but tremble more. I’ve rarely seen films that are cute while being disturbing, and this is by far the cutest disturbing film I’ve encountered.
The film moves slow and pushes us to take in the pain suffered by Sandhya. It brings a few elements, that we must be talking about, to the fore - mainly sex education, and background check on people who watch over your children.
We have experienced the brilliance of Nawazuddin Siddiqui multiple times, and he steals the show in almost all the films that he’s been in – the way he falls to the floor and begs, has his whole body in fits as he laughs and the precision with which he gets agitated before an argument. He’s a wonderful actor, but it was the child stars – both Irfan Khan and Mohammad Samad who stole the show. Even Shweta Tripathi has wonderfully embodied the mannerisms and troubles of a 15-year-old trusting slash immoral teenager. She beautifully shifts from being submissive and obedient to sneakily claiming what she believes is hers.
You’ll be amazed by the diversity the film brings to the screen. You have a man who is smitten by a tough woman in a crop cut hair-do, there’s a kid who never gets out of his Shaktiman costume and then there’s Trimala Adhikari, she plays Nawazuddin’s spouse Sunita, who’s transitioning from a woman in love to a docile wife. In between her screechy happiness and haunting silence, she speaks volumes about learning that she probably has married a paedophile.
Haraamkhor is visually satisfying as well. Filmfare Award winning cinematographer Siddharth Diwan has artfully used the scenic backdrop of windmills and its noise throughout the film. It helps keeps the film dark, and communicates the grimness of the plot effectively.
The film’s writing is spot-on, and direction is impeccable, but it does suffer in its editing. Though, a film like Haraamkhor is for the niche audience and will probably not be appreciated by many, but it is a story that needs to be heard for insight, and experiencing why people do what they do.