Haddi review: Simply casting a skilled actor to portray a profoundly dark character with a dramatic transformation doesn’t guarantee a compelling story. ‘Haddi’ serves as a stark reminder of a film that delves into a disturbing subject matter, relying heavily on the performances of its lead and antagonist, but falling short when it comes to the depth of its storytelling.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a sinister transgender named Haddi, who robs dead bodies from their funeral processions for commercial gains. But she also works with a dreaded mafia, who are into flesh trade, extortion and many other crimes. The evil boss of this gang is politician Pramod Ahlawat (Anurag Kashyap), who will go to any lengths to get what he wants. What is Haddi’s ultimate motive and what will be the consequence of his actions, form the crux of this hotch-potch of a story.
The IMDB synopsis of ‘Haddi’ reads, “Is this move aspirational or driven by revenge?” Well, that’s exactly where the problem lies. It’s a confusing narrative. Firstly, it’s not aspirational by any stretch of imagination. It is for all practical purposes, a revenge drama but with a lot of detours, especially in the first half. In a bid to create mystery around Haddi’s character and her motives, it confuses the audience with random and disjointed storytelling that robs us of any further interest in what the characters are up to. As the second half rolls in, there is some semblance of consistency and director and co-writer Akshat Ajay Sharma manages to evoke some curiosity over what will happen next. However, the major problem here is the lack of conviction in the characterisation and an uneven narrative that doesn’t quite touch your heart. The chemistry between Haddi and her boyfriend Jogi (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub) falls flat. Despite being good actors, neither Nawazuddin nor Mohd. Zeeshan are able to bring the required intensity into their equation. Nawazuddin invokes fear, hatred and empathy for his character. At places his makeover speaks louder than his actions. Anurag Kashyap’s villainy is impactful but we have seen him do this in movies earlier as well. Ila Arun is well cast as the endearing Amma. The film’s consistent dark tone goes well with its story. One song ‘Beparda’ (composed by Rohan Gokhale) in the soundtrack, stands out.
There was potential for a gripping thriller and an emotionally charged drama here. The film had the chance to vividly depict the struggles of the LGBTQ community. However, for ‘Haddi’ to truly shine, the creators needed to flesh out its essential elements with a lot more focus.