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Haseena Parkar Movie Review: It Survives The Curse Of A Clunky Lead!




By Subhash K Jha

Haseena Parkar

Starring Shradha Kapoor, Siddhant Kapoor, Ankur Bhatia

Directed by Apoorva Lakhia

Rating: ****(4 stars)

If only Haseena Parkar didn’t suffer from the curse of clunky inept shoddy central performance  , it would have been a  far more watchable potboiler on gangsterism. And I use the word ‘potboiler’ with  all  due respect. It’s not easy to make  a massy masala  movie out of the mayhem and murkiness of the mafia kingdom.

Rahul Dholakia’s Raees earlier this year wedded crime and kitsch.Apoorva Lakhia does it with a fair share of  elan and chutzpah.Haseena Parkar is about that Dubai -based gangster who  allegedly ran his nefarious business activities in Mumbai through his sister in the 1990s.

The brother and the sister had themselves a blast.

Fortuitously , Lakhia doesn’t miss Da-wood for  the trees.

The  carefully charted journey of  Haseena Parkar secretes enough enigma mystery intrigue  dread uncertainty fear and  blood to keep us watching for two hours. Fasahat Khan shoots  the  shoot-outs and the volatile shindigs in shades  of sinister death.For better or for worseLakhia keeps  the pacing frenzied, almost ruinously so. Barely are the characters given a chance to breathe  their frustration and rage  into a system that is so corrupt it fosters criminality.

The uneven pacing pumped up with a pounding background score clearly indicates the director’s massy intentions.  And  no harm in that. If only Lakhia’s principal lead had insight into what she was suppose to do. Shradha Kapoor slides cluelessly through the various lies nd lives of Haseena Parkar  with a complete  absence of inner conviction. Her performance is so surface-level I wondered if I’ve seen a more sorry instance of miscasting in  recent times.

The unknown actress(Priyanka Sethia) who plays the public prosecutor in the interestingly constructed  courtroom scenes effortless steals every frame from the female lead.Haseena’s lawyer played by Rajesh Tailang is equally compelling. And Ankur Bhatia as Parkar’s  husband is suitably filmy flamboyant and fleeting in his brief role .The rest of the teeming cast barely gets a chance to register in the bloodsplattered storytelling.

Shradha’s Haseena is a whiny, selfimportant delusional trouble-shooter. Siddhant Kapoor’s Dawood is  better, more roundly shaped probably because the actor is required largely to speak on the  phone to a sister whom he repeatedly extends a helping hand, and not in the way other siblings do.

It’s Dawood’s ambivalent  role in his sister’s life—did he play a hand in empowering her criminal activities in Mumbai or did she compel him to stay away from her affairs?—that provides a sizeable leeway to the narrative. Those  who have seen  Lakhia’s riveting Shootout AtLokhandwala would know  the director loves gangster shootouts.In Haseena Parkar the shootouts are more cinematic and staged, less real and documentary-like. The  emphasis is on generating a gratuitous  excitement.

In this  endeavour, the narrative sometimes loses its hold on the  characters’ moral campus,letting them spin in their own web of deceit rather than  pull them  out of their discrepancies to make sense of their outlawed lives. If only the central performance was more credible ,Haseena Parkar would have been a film on female  gangsterism on  a par with Shabana Azmi’s Godmother.

I bring up Vinay Shukla’s Godmother because I saw Shabana Azmi in Shradha’s character in the way Shradha  tries to instil maternal sanctity into her truant son’s criminal leanings, even in the way she occupies masculine space on screen physically. But it’s like watching a shadow dance rather than a real character.

Shradha Kapoor drags the film down. That it still has the energy and power to propel itself into a frenzy of engaging encounters and conflicts is  a measure of the film’s writing heft and the director’s grip over the grammar  of gore .

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