London Indian Film Festival 2015 this year has showcased some of the best genres of Indian films amongst which Haramkhor۪ (2015), a movie based in a rural Madhya Pradesh set-up adds an element of substance and appreciation for Indian cinema. Directed by Shlok Sharma whose works include the likes of Dev D۪ (2009) and Gangs of Wasseypur۪ (2012) as an assistant director, this movie brings out the best of actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and debut actress on the big screen Shweta Tripathi. With the current fame and string of big films that Nawazuddin has been gracing, this would be an interesting shift in his mainstream Bollywood career.
The movie begins in a typical Indian village outlook where a young boy is intrigued and mesmerized by his beautiful classmate and has resolved to make her his bride. His goofy best friend decides to support him on this mission, except that the route chosen is harder than they had anticipated, with a lot of twist and turns along the way along with a number of innocent but funny takes on what it takes to get a wife. Their maths tuition teacher played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui seems to treat the young group of guys differently in class with careful attention and favouritism to the girls in the group.. especially one in particular played by Shweta. The young kids suspect a close encounter between the student and teacher and usually follow them around to find out what really is going on. They discover Shweta is a lone child of a drunken village police officer who pretends to be away to the city a lot on work and ignores his daughter a lot. Loneliness puts her innocent self in the need of some attention that comes from her flirty grown up maths tutor. The relationship keeps getting deeper while they hide from the world, including his wife, and fool around wherever the opportunity exists. Shweta finds out her father has been having a secret affair and plans to bring her a stem mother which takes her further away and engage on sexual level with her teacher who clearly has no conscious in the matter. Their sexual encounter gives him a big scare over possible pregnancy and while as his wife is getting suspicious of his student. He decides to pull back making it even worse for his student. The two little boys following them around decide to avenge the girl by breaking into their teacher۪s house and breaking things around while his wife decides to leave home on finding out of his cheating nature. Left in an uneasy place with his wife and in his school with his shot tempered nature he eventually discovers who messed around in his house and in a fit of rage beats the little kid to death only to face it himself as the other kid decides to avenge his love and friendship.
Nawazuddin fits in perfectly in the role of the rogue teacher in this dark story with his slimy style of charming talk mixed with his evil look. His unconventional demeanour in projecting the role is quite strong but very engaging at the same time with his methodical acting skills. Shweta Tripathi does a brilliant job as a school girl torn between her loneliness and the advances of her teacher. It is very brave of her to take on a brutal and tough role of the little girl in this hard hitting story that is honest and well represented by the director. Shlok Sharma has a great chemistry with Nawazuddin considering they have worked together on a number of projects. He understands his capabilities as an actor and his extensive capabilities to mould his character perfectly to naturally allow viewers to hate his persona in the film. The pace can be quite slow at points but the attention to detail is excellent for this dark story. The shots are great for a low budget film shot in a small village. The setting and language of the characters is quite well represented. The story develops and gets darker as the film evolves and ends on a sad note with a sudden shift to very high drama towards the end which feels a bit choppy but is refreshing as well as the script does not follow the conventional story telling style.
Haraamkhor۪ is the ideal fit for film festival and has rightly been selected for the London Indian Film Festival. It is a mature story and shows the dark side of a student teacher relationship even in a rural setting. The two characters around which the story revolves are very well groomed and their roles are very well projected with Nawazuddin and Shweta. Their performance is very involving and keeps one deeply engaged. Director Sharma is very close in the directorial style of Anurag Kashyap but creates a strong mark for himself with this debut. Considering the film is a constant intense drama it lacks all the elements of an entertainer as such and thus has a tendency to get monotonous. But this film is an ideal fit for a film festival audience as it does not shy away from showing the facts with two really amazing actors.
BizAsia Showbiz Rating: 7/10