Haseena Parkar (Hindi)
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhant Kapoor, Ankit Bhatia, Priyanka Setia
Director: Apurva Lakhia
Running Time: 124 minutes
Rating: 2 Stars

Not so beautiful, this Haseena story!

A lawyer explodes, “This is frivolous!” That was in a deja vu moment for the audiences watching Haseena Parkar. Unfortunately, it was in a scene in the film and the actor playing ‘lawyer lawyer’ probably gets to go home after his one line mind-reading session of what we were going through. We still have some punishment to endure. Sigh!
More unintended laughter follows from the darkened cinema when dialogues like “Are you writing a novel or are you presenting a case?” ring out. Double sigh.

A bored, hamming judge-Saab, grins benignly for his 15 seconds of fame when he passes judgment as happily as gas. Haseena Apa is unmoved in court. But we feel further tremors of indigestion and indignation. Triple sigh.

But such is the depiction of Haseena Parkar, apparently inspired by the real life story of Dawood Ibrahim’s sister; that we want to pronounce it ‘guilty’! Of tepid imagination and poor storytelling. Of inane performances and tacky make-overs. What could ‘ve been a gritty tale of the familial goings-on in Mumbai’s underbelly and the meteoric rise of city’s most famous godmother, sadly, turns into poor cinema and a grossly undercooked plotline? This is a travesty because the story was already there waiting to be told. An interesting tale of power games from within the household of India’s most infamous don and his sister was the best storyline that director Apurva Lakhia could’ve dreamt up. But the tale is wantonly told.

From caricaturish characters, make-over faux pas, ill-fitted wigs, to call few glaring errors, the proceedings take a shabby turn. Bollywood films have done the flared pants 70’s look to death now and one needs to move beyond just costume detailing to actual storytelling. The entire narrative going into Haseena Parker’s back-story via a courtroom drama is another done to death gimmick. The poorly-written dialogues underline the lack of storytelling.

In the performance department, Shraddha Kapoor is left with a very underdeveloped character to etch out. So one moment she is the naive, vulnerable Haseena and the next minute she is the firebrand bashing up men and women who dare cross a line. But her real transformation happens when she is repeatedly called for questioning after the 1993 Mumbai blasts, owing to the fact that she is a dreaded don’s sister. And is told that it will always be her cross to bear. After this defining moment – her transformation is sudden and without any build-up. Almost as if the prosthetics to pad her up and dark maroon lipstick should be acting instead.

While Shraddha almost pulls off the young Haseena without any glitches barring the wedding night scene where she is inexplicably shaking to show her nervousness, it’s the older Haseena that Kapoor doesn’t quite manage to pull off. Despite her efforts – the makeover, adding gravitas to her voice and deathly look in her eyes – all of it falls short.

Her real life brother, Siddharth Kapoor as Dawood apparently (never named in the film, though) leaves a lot to be desired. Though his attempt is earnest to come across as a menacing don, the scenes which really do him in are the ones set in Dubai. As the Mumbai riots of 1992 and ensuing bomb blasts unfold, he is seen in unnecessary imagery – sitting in a bathtub with scented candles, swigging champagne on a fur cushioned chair with his lady, etc. (Too old school Amrish Puri style gupha this). Sadly, he comes across as a caricature. And so do his sidekicks.

Some of the redeeming moments in the movie come from Shraddha Kapoor’s chemistry with Ankit Bhatia, who plays Haseena Parker’s husband Ismail and the evocative scene where he is mercilessly shot dead.

But barring a few, most shoot out sequences a seem like a rehash of so many Bollywood movies that we have seen in the same genre.

Haseena Parkar starts out with promise but soon loses steam thanks to it’s many flaws in storytelling! Not so beautiful this tale of haseena.

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