Director: Apoorva Lakhia
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhanth Kapoor, Priyanka Setia, Rajesh Tailang
So here’s what I learned from watching Haseena Parkar. First – as folks in the underworld become powerful, they start to speak slowly. And their cheeks get puffy. And that, gangsters say really strange things. So when a prostitute tells her gangster lover ruk jao, he replies, agar teri har baat manoonga toh tu meri izzat karna band kardegi. What does that mean?
Haseena Parkar is filled with these fabulous WTF moments. By all accounts, the real Haseena Parkar was a fascinating woman – she was a 7th grade drop-out who eventually became the feared appa of Nagpada. A suspect in 88 cases, she was never convicted of a crime. The shadow of her terrorist brother Dawood Ibrahim loomed large on her life. She was both a victim and a benefactor of his criminal empire.
In the hands of director Apoorva Lakhia, writer Suresh Nair and actor Shraddha Kapoor, this material becomes the stuff of unintentional comedy. I applaud Shraddha for making a brave and unconventional choice but her performance is so inept that it’s hard to take any of this seriously. She is aping Marlon Brando from The Godfather – never a smart decision for any actor.
Of course Shraddha is absolutely hobbled by the writing. Her character is as inconsistent as the bronzer on her face. Apoorva and Suresh can’t decide whether the young Haseena was timid or strong. So in one scene, we see her on her wedding night trembling like a leaf. She keeps shifting positions so her husband is literally chasing her across the room. And in the next, she is throttling a woman and growling: do you know whose sister I am.
We also get no insight into how she becomes a mafia don herself. Post the 1993 bomb blasts, we see her settling some squabbles around real estate. But what did Haseena actually do or get done? I have no idea. There’s also Shraddha’s brother Siddhanth Kapoor playing her brother Dawood in the film. He looks convincing but gets little opportunity to build any menace. He is soon shunted to Dubai. His only job is to inquire how Haseena is doing. At one point, he is watching the Mumbai riots while sitting in a bubble bath.
The film is set in a courtroom where the public prosecutor and Haseena’s lawyer are arguing like little children. Toward the end, the judge shouts, enough – both of you. My sentiments exactly.