Quite the hilarious film about an extremely sensitive subject. The film is chopped to ribbons and that little thing drags it down a few notches.
OVERALL SCORE – 3.5/5
Haraamkhor is a 2017 Hindi comedy-drama written and directed by Shlok Sharma. It stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Swetha Tripathi, Mohammed Samad and Irfan Khan (not the one you are thinking of). The film puts to screen a love-triangle between a teacher, his 14-year-old female student, and her classmate.
Before I start, child sexual abuse is wrong. It has irreparably scarred many people, a few of whom I know personally, and should be fought against at all costs and victims of said abuse must be shown love and empathy.
Haramkhor is quite the unique film. The perception I got from its trailers and the word on the streets was that it was a film about child abuse. When one hears that, one walks in with a certain preconceived notion in his/her head. The film, however, does not play as one expects it to. It does not have a man in black hiding in the corners and spying on unsuspecting young girls. It goes for the road less taken and explores why certain things happen the way they do. It does not paint people in good or bad lights with broad strokes. It takes its time and lets the audience live with the characters. The film also creates a bond between the characters and the audience while also posing a question to the audience asking if their behavior is acceptable.
We know what is right or wrong in a very literal, black and white, sense but the writing in the film makes everyone gray. The film does not play a trope by showing the older man taking advantage of a child, it shifts from it and explores why the child keeps coming back to an admittedly immoral, and no to mention an illegal, relationship. It shows why someone could be attracted to someone else. It explores how the mindset of seemingly worldly people changes when a perfect storm of circumstances seems to push them away from their inherent beliefs. It is a wholly original take on complexities of human behavior and logic, in Indian cinema at least.
The cast in the film is just splendid. They share on-screen chemistry like no other, moving from hilarious, sad, angry, lustful, damaged, innocent etc with the highest of ease. One might assume while walking into a Nawazuddin Siddiqui film that he would be the primary thing that lights up the screen (his student and he are indeed spellbinding), on the contrary, the two boys who play Mintu and Kamal steal the entire film from right under Nawazuddin Siddiqui by being riotously funny and despicable little rascals. The main characters too have a few surprising moments of comedy even though the undercurrent of the scenes indicate them bearing life or death consequences for them.
The film does suffer from choppy editing and an extremely rushed third act akin Fantastic Four (2015). The film feels more like a collection of scenes than a fully flowing narrative. There was a creative choice made to edit the film a certain way and I cannot say it works in the film’s favor. The third act leaves a lot, and I do mean a lot, to be desired. It flashes out of nowhere and leaves the audience with more questions than answers. The movie has a grainy look to it and a lot of handheld camera work. The fact that this exists is not a gripe but the overuse of said things might not work towards yielding the best final product.
The film is more of a study of its colorful cast of characters than a public service announcement. It is primarily a drama. It is an intelligently written drama that gives its characters a real-life feel and down to earth relatability. I could always connect with the three kids in the film because I was a stupid bastard back in the day and I had ill-advised notions about romance and sexuality myself.
If one misguided long winded analogy can encapsulate the film it would be this, the film feels like riding a bicycle on train tracks towards a railway tunnel. The ride is adventurous and memorable even if it does have multiple bumps and an uncertain ending.
OVERALL SCORE – 3.5/5
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