In Haddi, writer-director Akshat Ajay Sharma is trying to add juice to an old-fashioned revenge drama by creating a screenplay that goes back and forth to hide the central character’s past and motive. The problem is that this narrative experiment that unfolds in the movie’s first half almost makes the film flat and uninteresting. Even though Nawazuddin Siddiqui has delivered a solid performance in the vulnerable moments of his character, Haddi fails to be that vengeance-driven blood-shed drama it aspired to be.
The movie introduces us to this transgender person everyone calls Haddi. He is looting dead bodies (why? You will get to know later in the film). After a point, he had to leave that area and go to Delhi’s NCR sector. He managed to impress a politician named Pramod Ahlawat, who was trying to grab all the nearby lands. What we see in Haddi is the journey of the title character in that gang and his hidden intentions behind the infiltration.
I don’t know whether they wrote it linearly and then decided to make it a crisscross narrative during the edits because the initial portions of the movie have this pretty hasty feel. A little salvaging happens in the movie’s second act, where we are shown the character’s past. Even though the violence and stylization of it have this wannabe Anurag Kashyap movie tone to its credit, Nawaz’s performance in those areas is the only thing going in favor of the film. But that phase ends pretty soon, and what remains has no finesse to its credit.
The movie’s only bit of positive is the performance of leading man Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The way he performs the minor changes in the transition of the transgender character is lovely, and more than the writing, it was the performance that made us empathize with that character. Anurag Kashyap, as the main antagonist, Pramod Ahlawat, was fine in that avatar. But I wouldn’t say it looked as intimidating as his performance as an antagonist in other movies like Akira, Imaika Nodigal, etc. Even though the character had only minimal screen time, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub was graceful as the partner of our lead character. Ila Arun, Saurabh Sachdeva, Shridhar Dubey, Rajesh Kumar, and Vipin Sharma are the other performers in the cast.
In terms of visual craft, Akshat Ajay Sharma does show us his intent to make things visually compelling. But the writing is not very captivating in setting up that world. Akshat was actually trying to make his guru look way cool on screen with that massacre scene where Kashyap’s character listens to music as his men shoot down people. But somehow, the sequence ends up being a charmless rendering of something that looked deadly only in the director’s headspace. It’s not like the idea was bad on paper. The whole Mohini-Iravan reference is a good theme for building a dramatic third act. But the overall sluggishness and unevenness of the screenplay just make it look like a peripheral gaze that relies too much on style.
On the whole, Haddi is a basic revenge drama that couldn’t fully utilize the drama given to it by the sexuality of the title character. Sporadically, some cinematic moments are in the film, showing the filmmaker’s intent to make a tale of deceit and payback. But barring the tenderness in Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s performance, nothing much is there in the movie to rave about.
Barring the tenderness in Nawazuddin Siddiqui's performance, nothing much is there in the movie to rave about.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended