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Bollywood Movie Reviews

Haddi Is A Lost Opportunity On Exploring Transgender Rage




Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Anurag Kashyap, Ila Arun, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub

 Directed  by  Akshay Ajay Sharma

Rating: **

There  is  no dearth  of talent in Haddi,a restless raging exploration of transgender crises. The actors, even in the  minutest roles are so  dedicated , the  lacuna between ‘gender’ and  ‘transgender’ is  effortlessly bridged, and we soon stop  asking if this actor or that, is a real transgender  or not.

Tragically, debutant director Akshay Ajay Sharma and his co-writer Adamya Bhalla seem obsessed  with  blood  and  bloodshed.  After sitting through the lengthy and unbearably brutal  film(be warned the violence is  savage  and sadistic) one comes away exhausted  by the sanguinary  mood of  the  vendetta story.

Haddi is an exhausting and  disturbing film.The  unnecessarily  complicated  plot when stripped  down to its bones, is a straightforward  revenge  saga  where the titular  character  infiltrates  the villain’s gang and then in a highly manufactured  climax,  gives  him the death he  deserves. Not willing to  tell a simple  story,director Sharma teases a  torrent of tormenting  violence into the  screenplay, rendering the inherent poignancy of  the protagonist’s gender  crisis into a voluminous orgy of mayhem.

There is  an infuriating  storehouse of potentially  powerful and moving  situations here, all  gunned  down and  axed to the ground.The  violence applied to the   drama is  not just combative , it is  also individual. In a prolonged flashback when Haddi(Nawazuddin)  gets  a sex-change operation his tortuous transformation into ‘her’  is accompanied  by a whole lot of blood on the  thighs, the  mattress…everywhere.

 There is  blood everywhere, nowhere  more so than in the  sequence where the villain Pramod Ahlawat(Anurag Kashyap) guns down an entire  household  of  transgenders. The  savagery is captured in  splashy slow-motion  , almost as though the director himself was transfixed  by the  entire  viciousness  of the  situation.

couldn’t help thinking of Gabbar  gunning down the  Thakur’s entire family in  Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay with that  swing creaking eerily after the  violence.  That was  chilling. This is  just reprehensible  and  stomach-churning  violence perpetrated for its  shock value.

The entire film, pitch-dark and pointedly  morbid, seems  designed to induce  a kind of sinking feeling in the  audience, the kind we feel when we see a  ghastly road accident  and keep driving on as we don’t want to  get involved.

 Haddi gives us  no choice. It is that car-crash  of  a film which  leaves us with no scope to commiserate with the tormented protagonist. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, by now  a maestro of the morbid, puts up a brave  performance as a  ‘shero’ with a sharp weapon and a  blunt tongue. It is  a rousing performance but way too self-congratulatory and lacking empathy.

 Anurag  Kashyap walks through his villainous role with one expression. He is  neither menacing nor  frightening, just annoying. The ever-dependable Mohd  Zeeshan Ayyub as  the love of  Haddi’s life is one of the two gentle characters, the other being  Ila Arun as the brothel-runner,in a  film  where the men are either gender-confused  or intolerant  of those who are gender-confused.

Haddi  could have been a powerful  portrait  of  a  community perched  between perishment and being purged. Instead it is  a never-ending bloodbath where it is hard to tell whether the director cares for the third sex or just wants to use them as a bait for violence.

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