‘Haddi’ is the story of a transgender, Haddi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Based in Allahabad, Haddi and his coworker Malkan, work with dead bodies, it is not known what they actually do. He moves to New Delhi from Prayagraj, on the lookout for a job. The narrative moves quickly through Haddi’s sinister exit from Allahabad, he kills Malkan and gets work with a gang that employs transgenders, headed by Inder ( Saurabh Sachdeva). The group works for a corrupt politician Pramod Ahlawat (Anurag Kashyap). Haddi soon wins the trust of the group leaders and his gang members.
It is after the murder of Pramod Ahlawat’s secretary Bibek Moitra (Vipin Sharma) that the actual story begins to unfold. Until this point, the narrative is slightly confusing and the treatment is linear; tick boxing points of the move of the small time gangster from a small city to the capital.
The flashback sequence of Haddi’s past life reveals his motive behind moving to Delhi. Haddi moved out of his father’s home, to join Revati Amma’s (Ila Arun) Gharana of transgenders. He has a sex change operation and becomes Harika. Harika is loved and supported by Irfan Rizvi (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub). Their love story culminates into a marriage. From hereon, her life takes a different turn. The narrative shifts entirely to her revenge plan against those who wronged her. The movie follows Harika’s story as she executes her plan.
The motivation for revenge seems conventional. However, the best part of the movie; the background of a transgender support system, depicting them in different professions and the hope of a wholesome life seem almost dream like. The emotional connect to Haddi’s story comes in at this point. The love story between Harika and Irfan, based on the story of Iravan and Mohini (Krishna in a female form) is beautiful, and incidentally, is also a story of revenge. The love story could have been fleshed out better. This whole sequence finally establishes engagement with the viewer. The side story of the bone trafficking business is somewhat macabre and grim. The climax is predictable and is a tad lazy in execution. However, the last frame of Haddi indicates she is a politician and it is indeed the depiction of the transgender in regular society, rather than on the fringe; the depiction of an aspirational, normal life that makes all the difference in this movie.
Undoubtedly, the film is led fantastically by Nawazuddin Siddiqui; his body language transitions, voice modulation, every aspect is top-notch. His ‘Harika’ is absolutely on point. Some of his stand out scenes are with Ila Arun; who is heartwarmingly endearing. Another beauty is the love story of Harika and Irfan; a love story between a transgender and a male, a Hindu – Muslim match that is spontaneous and gently shows a peep into a beautiful world where differences are embraced whole heartedly. The movie needed more of these moments.
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The supporting actors Saurabh Sachdeva, Rajesh Kumar, Shridhar Dubey carry out their roles efficiently. The antagonist played by Anurag Kashyap, could have been better. Pramod Ahlawat seems caricaturist; with the macabre, stereotypical trappings of a seasoned villain; bloodbath, bone business, killing of children, but the engagement of the character on screen is average.
The cinematography by Jay Oza and Piyush Puty is dark and moody in keeping with the theme of the movie. Music by Rohan Rohan is situational. One of the best songs in the movie is ‘Beparda’, by Rekha Bharadwaj, the picturization, lyrics of the song (Rohan, Saad Khan) are wonderfully poignant.
‘Haddi’ could have been an exciting cat and mouse thriller, but unfortunately most of the high points fall flat because of the conventional treatment. To sum up, the movie has a patchy narrative, predictable at times and thought provoking in some aspects.
BizAsia Rating: 2/5