Haseen Dillruba Hindi Movie Review
Haseen Dillruba opens with the image of Rani (Taapsee Pannu) giving street dogs meat. In a white dress, Rani appears to be a messenger of peace and love. But then a nearby house bursts into flames, and a concerned Rani runs into it. When inside, she cries out 'Rishu' on seeing a destroyed part with her name on it, which then makes us wonder whether it belongs to the Dillruba (Beloved) in the title. Naturally, such an event would raise suspicions in a curious cop, especially someone like Aditya Srivastava's Inspector Kishore Rawat. Why did the explosion happen when Rani was at a safe distance from the building? Does it mean that Rani has a hand in the death of her own husband, Vikrant Massey's Rishu? Is she not the pacifist we initially take her for?
The rest of the film is an exploration of the reason behind Rishu's death, which is interspersed with flashbacks of his and Rani's marital life. For a cop from a patriarchal and rather misogynistic country, it is natural that Rawat views Rani as the prime suspect. So, with contempt in his words and looks, Rawat treats her as a domestic whore. But Rani's account of the events around Rishu's death is more than just fascinating. It is so intriguing that it alone makes the whole police station listen to the conversation between Rawat and Rani with child-like curiosity.
We learn that Rani and Rishu have had a marriage with ups and downs, just like any other couple in her words. A well-behaved electrical engineer, Rishu tells Rani that her beauty makes him so nervous when in front of her. On the other hand, what Rani seeks in an ideal husband are more masculine qualities than what Rishu has.
Rani shows cleavage to seduce her husband in some absurd sequences of the movie, which triggers snide remarks from his mother played by Yamini Dass. Some of the film's funniest bits also feature Dass and Pannu, with writer Kanika Dhillon's witty lines to boot.
But then comes the tonally jarring narrative shifts and unconvincing character arcs in Haseen Dillruba. In many parts, this appears a bold film that defies conventional Hindi cinema norms, but it is also silly and problematic in others. The most unconvincing aspect of the movie is perhaps the constant shifts in Vikrant Massey's character. Like the Rani who shows cleavage earlier in the film, Rishu also overreacts to a particular incident by chasing another important character as in a James Bond movie. As a part and character element of the movie, it is a stretch that should be in another universe altogether.
The makers and all their promotional material have suggested that it is a thriller film. Therefore, we look forward to the obligatory twist in the tale. As a sucker for the genre, I liked the ending of the film, but I do not think it is anywhere near convincing enough. The makers mix soft porn with spicy dialogues in a film with a story that borders pulp fiction novels having implausible twists, the kind you may see in railway station stalls.
On paper, Haseen Dillruba has more depth, but director Vinil Mathew treats the film like how, say, an Abbas Mastan would. Nevertheless, the performances from the lead actors make it a rather believable watch. Taapsee Pannu is building up quite a reputation as Hindi cinema's bold and beautiful heroine. Here, she embodies endurance and strength while displaying a sense of vulnerability and callousness. Vikrant Massey is superb as a good guy turned tormented husband with low self-esteem. Massey combines his inherent innocence and shyness with raw emotions, thus making Rishu a complicated man. Haseen Dillruba also has Harshvardhan Rane in a small yet fascinating role. Rane may be cut out for a more heroic role in Hindi cinema, but Kanika Dhillon's film shows that he is not afraid to try something new.