Film: Haseen Dillruba
Director: Vinil Mathew
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey, Harshvardhan Rane, Aditya Srivastava, Yamini Das, Daya Shankar Pandey, Ashish Verma
An extramarital affair, a dead body and the mystery begins to deepen. Or, does it? Two plus two in a whodunit is never four even though the police officer investigating the death is ready to jump the gun and arrive at conclusions on the expected lines. Who else but the adulterous wife Rani (TaapseePannu) can be the murderer?
But more than a whodunit, Haseen Dillruba is packed with emotions and dialogues such as “Amar prem wahi hota hai jis par khooon ke halke halke cheente hon.” With the pen in the hands of a woman writer, Kanika Dhillon, who is an author too, the movie does pay a tribute to authors as our heroine Rani is an avid reader of crime novels in Hindi.
As is with most of producer Aanand L Rai’s films, the story is set in a small-town and its characteristic flavour does stand out in small vignettes and frames (courtesy cinematographer Jayakrishna Gummadi). Like in most of Rai’s productions the heroine is no pushover either.
Rani Kashyap (Taapsee Pannu) is all spunk and verve. Never mind that she is married off in an arranged match to an engineer Rishu (Vikrant Massey), who we soon find is dead. Just when you think it’s a cautionary tale of arranged marriage and how two strangers thrown in a bed even in holy matrimony can wreak havoc, the film takes you on a new tangent.
Not that the track the narrative follows is all that new. Many a film of yore has treaded this ground of good guy vs bad one. Here the line between the two fuses for a while, till one of them turns out to be a real cad.
Without meaning to serve a spoiler let it be stated that Harshvardhan Rane’s character of Neel the lover is poorly etched. But for flexing his muscles and a few smooching scenes, he gets to do little and frankly there is no depth to his stereotypical portrayal. Taapsee Pannu with some cheesy and some smart one-liners, however, keeps the flow going. Attired in brightly coloured sarees she looks red hot and her disappointment with her husband is understandable.
Director Vinil Mathew intercuts the scenes well. The writing with twists and turns tries to keep you invested, even when the tale takes a bizarre turn and you can smell the rat, ahem the truth behind the murder from a mile. Though the narrative tries to engross us in a guessing game the tell-tale signs are easy to decipher.
Underline the line—Mein jab Vishu se pehli bar mili toh woh engineer tha, agali baar mera pati aur teesri baar aashiq. Vikrant Massey is in fine form though. From a diffident husband to one seeking his pound of flesh from an erring wife and her lover, he gets the mercurial shades of his character right. The film, however, does take the wrong turn more than once. The cocktail of love, sex, betrayal and murder leaves you demanding more. The so-called intense shades of love with a peculiar sacrifice thrown in as proof are described rather than felt.
Besides, feminists might take offence at the word tota, which by the way the heroine herself uses to describe her beauty. But, of course, whether a film is a film meant to entertainor to hold a light to causes, feminist or otherwise, is a larger debate.
Haseen Dillruba is clearly not an outright dud, but a hit and miss exercise which works now and then. Not so haseen, streaming on Netflix you can watch it if you have nothing better to do.