The film starts out by adopting the language of a gangster origin story. A small-time smuggler from Allahabad, Haddi (Siddiqui), moves to Delhi and joins the network run by corrupt politician Pramod Ahlawat (Kashyap).
The rhythm of the film is a bit exacting. A lot of Haddi’s time in Noida with Ahlawat’s gang feels rushed and, at times, deliberately vague. It’s designed to make the character’s ‘mission’ more layered, but it’s pretty conventional in terms of all the subterfuge.
His gait as Harika is exceptional – the coyness, physical presence, femininity and gaze are disarming, particularly the way he expresses Harika’s sense of love and belonging with Irfan in the gharana.
It’s no coincidence that Harika is weaker when she pretends to be Haddi, an extension of how the marginalised risk self-erasure when they are in denial of their identity.
The result might be a mixed bag, but Haddi gives us a lot to chew on, (poor) pun intended. If anything, it errs on the side of flesh.