Haddi Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2023
Haddi treats its transgender protagonist with a great deal of dignity and has a wonderful love story. However, writer-director Akshat Ajay Sharma's writing is so devoid of meat that the film does not make us root for most of its characters.
Sep 7, 2023 By Sreejith Mullappilly

At the hands of a different filmmaker, Akshat Ajay Sharma's Haddi would have been a celebration of pure B-grade gore. Its treatment of the world of transgender people is so mature that it almost qualifies as an artistic entry into the genre of gory revenge thrillers. But at its heart, it is still a potboiler, a viscerally violent revenge thriller.

That's right, Haddi is a revenge story, but an unconventional one at that. By starting the movie with glimpses of Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a transgender person, the makers give away the conceit of the film way too early. In a voice-over narrative, Harika says, "People fear us because our blessings are powerful, our curse is terrifying, and our revenge is even more terrifying." This establishes Harika as a mythical force to be reckoned with. Therefore, it hardly feels terrifying when the bruised alter ego of Nawaz's Harika, namely Haddi, eventually stabs someone in the throat and throws that person out of a moving bus. He kills with the callousness of a cold-blooded killer.

The aforementioned is not a spoiler, by the way, as the trailer reveals this much. Then we wait to see why this transgender character becomes a man engulfed in the thought of revenge. We get a backstory where Nawaz undergoes a painful physical transformation following a castration procedure. The agony and pain of the character become our emotional cues for whatever he does later in the film. However, Akshat Ajay Sharma's writing for Haddi is so devoid of meat that the film does not make us want to root for Nawazuddin's character. The world that Haddi occupies gives him just enough negative shade to make the character feel so alien.

Haddi is unlike most revenge thrillers with a transgender character as the protagonist. Unlike, say, Raghava Lawrence's Laxmii, Haddi treats its transgender protagonist with a great deal of dignity. There is a wonderful love story featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub. Nawaz blushes and walks in such a way that we instantly buy into the idea of him being a transgender person. He holds his own admirably, even in close-up shots, and is utterly convincing as a transgender character. As Irfan, Ayyub exudes just the level of humanity we need to overlook the world of corrupt politics and illicit trade that the other characters in the film occupy. In a later sequence, we get a romantic exchange between Irfan and Harika that is just wonderful. This underlines the fact that love and romance transcend the boundaries of physicality.

Despite the film's plus points, it never realizes its full promise because the writing is so formulaic. The writing for Anurag Kashyap as a manipulative politician is nowhere near original enough, although the actor is delightfully devilish in the role. The same goes for the characters of Saurabh Sachdeva and Vipin Sharma. Besides, the climax feels like a bit of an anticlimax. The idea of portraying Haddi as immortal is pregnant with possibilities, but unfortunately, the makers of the film settle for easy pleasures.

Sreejith Mullappilly