Vinod Sukumaran's post mortem of a relationship that has run into a dead end, suffers from a storyline that never actually grabs hold. Drab and dreary to the core, 'Haram' is a film that misses out on its core, and which leaves a hundred baffling questions lying around in its wake.
Little does Balakrishnan (Fahadh Faasil) realize that the helping hand that he offers to Isha (Radhika Apte), a colleague in distress, will alter him into a man in love, and later a husband. The initial euphoria over, as the couple settles down to a comfortable life in Cochin, disagreements start crawling in from nowhere. As Isha decides to get a divorce and move on, Balu realizes that falling in and out of love isn't as easy as it seems to be.
It's ironical that the 'irreconcilable differences' that are quoted as the reason for separation, remain as much a mystery to us, as they are to the two protagonists in the film. Very often do Balu and Isha admit that the real rationale behind their moving away from each other, is obscure. This search for the cause is exasperating, and after a while they give up, proclaiming themselves and each other as finally free.
It is this obscurity that makes the film a pain, and at a running length of one hundred and twenty six minutes, there is very little action in it that prompts you to keep your eyes glued on the screen. With a somnolent background score playing lethargically somewhere distant, 'Haram' puts you to sleep in no time.
Another parallel thread that dwells on the love tale of Ameena (Rajasree Deshpande) and Salaam (Sreekumar) runs haywire, and takes up quite a bit of screen time, only to appear as an adjunct that declines to fit in. Every time, the film makes an effort to fasten it on to the main plot, it jerks free and takes off, refusing to be tied down.
While the references in the film range from Anita Nair to O V Vijayan, and from Marquez to Merlyn Monroe, the insights that it offers are zilch. Despite all the ambition that it has, 'Haram' comes across as an undemanding and unsurprising watch, that looks awfully slight whichever way you look at it.
The only sane statement that grabs you by the collar in the entire film, comes from Gargi (Sagarika), the radio jockey, who murmurs aloud that had there been no such emotion as love, humans would have suffered none of the suffocation that they are otherwise destined to. But such sparks of sagacious thought are extremely rare, if not non-existent in 'Haram'.
And the absolutely insane denouement towards which 'Haram' moves forward, is one that is sure to leave you open-mouthed. A messy divorce, and botched attempts to regain the lost spark in his marital life transform Balu into a man who wouldn't think twice before using a pistol on someone. But then, you really don't care, since you never knew him in the first place.
I'm certainly not astonished that Fahadh has delivered yet another credible performance as Balu, and regardless of all the trivialities in the script, it's a pleasure to watch him on screen. The surprise packet though in the film is Radhika Apte, who is one tremendous performer who gets her act right where it should be. While Sagarika and Rajsree Deshpande are persuasive in their respective roles, Sreekumar goes way overboard with his lost lover act.
'Haram' starts off by presenting before us two strangers stranded on the walks of life. The film over, strangers they remain, and their lives appear even stranger than before. A head-scratcher movie that steadily sinks down like a rock thrown into a grubby pond, 'Haram' has none of the delight and elation that its title boasts of.
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