Available on: Netflix
In Haseen Dillruba, when the truth dawns upon one of the characters, his wife brushes it off by saying, "Aaj kal kaun paagal pyaar mein aisa karta hai!" This is exactly how you feel after watching Taapsee Pannu-Vikrant Massey-Harshvardhan Rane's tale of forbidden passion and crime. Despite having an incredibly talented star cast, Vinil Mathew offers us a film that's 'sometimes good and sometimes not'.
What's Yay: Vikrant Massey
What's Nay: Writing which spills all over
Haseen Dillruba begins with a bang (like literally!) Set in the quaint town of Jwalapur, Rani (Taapsee Pannu) is feeding raw mutton to stray dogs when a huge explosion rips her house. The victim's body is charred beyond recognition barring a severed hand with Rani's name tattooed on it. It is assumed that the dead person is Rani's husband Rishu (Vikrant Massey) and the cops suspect her as the main culprit.
As Rani tells her story to the cops, the timeline jumps back six months. An arranged marriage alliance brings Rani, a beautician and Rishu, an engineer into the same room, but the duo is different as chalk and cheese. She is confident and sassy while he is a timid and 'seedha-saadha'. At one point, Rani quips to herself while gazing at the mirror, "Tota mila gaya us average insaan ko." Nevertheless, they get hitched. However, Rishi soon realizes that he can fix anything except his marriage.
While Rishu is still struggling with his awkward attempts to win over his wife, enters his muscle flexing cousin Neel (Harshvardhan Rane). He is everything what Rishu isn't. Rani, a Hindi pulp fiction aficionado soon finds the line between fantasy and reality blurred, as she gives in to a passing temptation. What follows next is a volatile mix of love, madness and death.
To be honest, Taapsee Pannu's Haseen Dillruba starts on a promising note. There's a dead body, a prime suspect and a missing murder weapon. Just as you are about to chew off your nails thinking who's the murderer, writer Kanika Dhillon and the team change the tonality of the film and introduce you to Rani-Rishu's first encounter, their struggle to get intimate post marriage and other sub-plots. Barring a few troupes and cliched 'saas-bahu' exchanges, things are fun.
It's only when the plot tiptoes towards its toxic idea of love that you start questioning your sanity and asking if this is what you had signed up for! The meat gets even more harder to chew when you watch Taapsee Pannu fresh out of Thappad, delivering some questionable lines and tolerating violence all in the garb of love and repentance.
Also Dhillon's writing is inconsistent, sometimes it stings and sometimes it limps. Director Vinil Mathew is saddled with a plot which has some disturbing gender dynamics and a morally questionable climax. The filmmaker tries to salvage the situation but alas, that doesn't happen by the time the movie reaches its finishing point.
Taapsee Pannu as the bored housewife tries to make the best use of the erratic plot. However, when it comes to the femme fatale act, the actress is barely in her full form. Amid all the ups and downs in the narrative, it's her co-star Vikrant Massey who shines with his deliciously twisted turn. Harshvardhan Rane as the 'oh-so-bad' boy is effective in his role. However, one wished there was more for him to do in the film.
Ashish Verma ends up with another 'hero ka best friend' act and it is not funny! Aditya Shrivastava pulls off another CID act in this Netflix film. The rest of the cast deliver what's written for them.
Jaya Krishna Gummadi's camera work is in sync with the theme of the film. Unlike Aanand L Rai's other productions, Haseen Dillruba falters when it comes to capturing the essence of small towns.
'Milaa Yun' crooned by Yashita Sharma and Abhay Jodhpurkar stands out in the music album of Haseen Dillruba. 'Dil Melt Karda' falls short of being a memorable love song despite its quirky lyrics. 'Lakeeran' and 'Phisal Jaa Tu' blend well with the narrative.
'Paagalpan ki hadd se na guzare toh woh pyaar kaisa! Hosh mein toh rishte nibhaye jaate hai.' Now, that's some 'not so-haseen' thought in this film, which falls short of being a fitting tribute to Hindi pulp fiction.
We give 2.5 stars out of 5 to Taapsee Pannu-Vikrant Massey-Harshvardhan Rane starrer Haseen Dillruba.