Towards the end of Haseena Parkar, the judge presiding over the 2 hours long case finally tells the prosecuting attorney that whatever she has done for the last 2 hours is debate and not a legal proceeding and therein, the director himself sums up the biggest underlying problem of the film. The manner in which it is approached is flawed and quite pointless. Till date, Apoorva Lakhia has made only one good film i.e. Shootout at Lokhandwala which was also marred by unnecessary theatrics but had strong performances, story and Vivek Oberoi as its saving graces. Haseena Parkar has to rely solely on the pull of Shraddha Kapoor which at many junctures doesn’t quite work out.

The film chronicles the journey of Haseena Parkar, the sister of the nefarious criminal Dawood Ibrahim from being a naive and almost repressed girl to becoming one of the primary crime figures of Mumbai. She was the one who single-handedly dealt with D-Company’s business in Mumbai and had over 80 cases registered against her but was never convicted and appeared only once in a trial. The film shows how personal loses push her one step at a time closer to becoming what she ultimately becomes. The murder of her husband, the Mumbai Blasts of the nineties and her family’s repression by the police in the name of interrogation being the final nails in the coffin.

The film sometimes tries to take a detour by showing an otherwise questionable virtuous side of Haseena. The scenes where she asks her brother about his involvement in the blast and time and again tells the police that he is innocent tries to show her in good light. But finally, when she learns the truth, she doesn’t shy away from the empire of crime and wrong-doing that her brother built and instead uses it to her advantage and to safeguard her family. Thus the detour really makes the audience question the director’s thought process and what exactly he wanted to convey.

I am told that this film is historically correct. I am no expert on Haseena Parkar and I don’t think I can speak much about the authenticity of the film’s plot but it does feel very documentary-like and remains realistic for most of the parts. Shraddha Kapoor has done a fabulous job with her character. She has come a long way from playing the irritating and shrill characters that she started her career with. She is in top form when she is playing the naïve and repressed version of Haseena and her transition through the stages are quite smooth until the final jolt after which she turns into the older version of Haseena. The prosthetics that she wears look odd and this transition feels quick and uneven but that doesn’t demean her act.

Siddhant Kapoor plays Dawood well. We have seen so many versions of the man that now it’s almost impossible to judge which one of it is closest to the real man. Suffice is to say that we can at best judge the man for his own interpretation of the character and that Siddhant does well. The only complaint that I have of his character is not related to how he acts but from the way the character is written. It feels as if the director wanted to show the society and the police to be responsible for what Dawood became. That is a tad bit too much to fathom.

Having said all that, I finally arrive at my biggest qualm with the film and which I believe takes the film down completely. The court case. The court case feels like nothing more than a ploy to relate Haseena’s story in flashbacks which they could have easily done in a chronological order. In showing it as a flashback through question and answer sessions in a court case, they make a mockery of the court proceedings that is so blatant that even the most forgiving of fans will take offense from it. The case goes on and on and the judge never intervenes to stop the unnecessary storytelling. Its only in the end that he finally rebukes the prosecutor for putting up a debate and not a prosecution but by then it’s already too late.

Haseena Parkar is a fairly entertaining film for those who are interested in the story of the titular character but even at 2 hours 3 minutes the film felt draggy at parts. Shraddha turns in a good performance but she doesn’t have the gusto to carry a film on her shoulder alone. At least not for the while. The film is entertaining but we have seen so much of the same fare before that, it doesn’t feel entirely novel. If you have nothing else to do, you may just check out this film but if you don’t, you will not be missing out on much.

Rating : 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars) 


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