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Haseena Parkar

Banner: Swiss Entertainment

Producer: Nahid Khan

Director: Apporva Lakhia
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhanth
Kapoor, Ankur Bhatia
Writer: Suresh Nair
Music: Sachin-Jigar

Along with the rain, it’s pouring biopics this season. The Indian audience is currently enamoured of this genre and filmmakers are milking it to the fullest. Apoorva Lakhia has done the same with Haseena Parkar but missed the mark as he has broken the cardinal rule with biopics – he has glorified the central character.

Haseena Parkar, sister of mafia don Dawood Ibrahim, became a powerful woman who ruled a large swathe of Mumbai. There are a number of cases filed against her, with the charges ranging from extortion to attempt to murder.

Shraddha Kapoor has essayed the role of the titular character and while she makes a brave attempt, she clearly does not fit into the underworld, especially the world of the powerful and intimidating Haseena Parkar. The film has a strong beginning as Haseena Parkar makes a dramatic appearance in court for the first and only time. The film oscillates between the present and the past, as the case goes on while Haseena sheds light on her life in flashback. Her life story starts with how her brother became a gangster due to their abusive father. While he is shown to be a deadly criminal in one frame, the next one shows Dawood being the typical Bollywood big brother of the heroine, establishing a strong bond between them. As Dawood’s story goes from Dongri to Dubai, we see Haseena living her life as a happily married woman. But her world is shattered when her husband is killed by her brother’s rivals.

Enraged, Dawood embarks on a revenge spree by killing innocent people. As Haseena stands by her brother, the biggest and most-awaited plot unfolds – the Babri Masjid demolition followed by the 1993 Mumbai blasts. Though there is no confirmation for his role in these events, there is the clear suggestion that Dawood planned the bomb blasts.

In the aftermath, Haseena is constantly questioned by the police and she is told that this is happening because she is the sister of a terrorist. Following the atyachaar doled out by the law, Haseena begins to use her power to help the public solve their disputes in return for large ‘commissions’. She becomes the feared Aapa of Nagpada after instilling the fear of her ‘Bhai’ in everyone, from local thugs to NRI builders, which affects her children but doesn’t stop her power play.

Director Apoorva Lakhia has given us a real and gritty story in the past, with Shootout At Lokhandwala. However, this film lacks that hard-hitting punch of the gangster genre as it distracts with many frivolous elements. One of these is the love story between Haseena and her husband. It’s one thing to show the relationship between them but it’s quite another to garnish it with a Bollywood love song that includes slow-motion sequences and the heroine’s dupatta falling on the hero. Lakhia has gone too far.

The second, the most important element, is the central character herself. There was much curiosity attached to the film as people wanted to get to know the real Haseena Parkar, an intimidating woman, to say the least. Instead, they get a female lead who fears the men in her life and is shown to be clueless about what went on around her.

Except for her brother being a smuggler, she apparently had no idea of his other ‘businesses’ like murder, terrorism, extortion, etc. Throughout the film, Haseena is shown as a victim of her brother’s wrongdoings. While the subject of Haseena Parkar is quite strong, the screenplay is weak and execution weaker.

Performance-wise, Shraddha Kapoor has given it her best shot but there are so many obvious flaws that the film fails to live up to the expectations attached to the trailer. The inconsistency in Kapoor’s looks, which go from her being tanned in one scene to glowing in the next, is a colossal flaw that further erodes the authenticity of the story. Also, the average prosthetic job, which was meant to make Kapoor resemble the older Haseena Parkar, is laughable at many points. Shraddha Kapoor’s real-life brother essays the same on reel as Dawood Ibrahim. And this is an even bigger disappointment than the bad prosthetics. Ankur Bhatia is okay.

Verdict: Statutory Warning: Stay Away.

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