Haddi Review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui Delivers Career-Best Performance, Anurag Kashyap Is A Revelationnewsbhunt


Nawazuddin Siddiqui might have been absent from your screens for a long time but Akshat Ajay Sharma’s directorial noir crime-drama Haddi truly amplifies his brilliance as an actor. Slipping into feminine clothes, and essaying a vengeful femme fatale, on a road to retribution and reckoning, Nawazuddin Siddiqui doesn’t perform as much as he imbues himself to his character of a transgender woman. It’s a remarkable role, tailor made for him, against the backdrop of a story that is symbolic, allegorical and unfeigned to the plight of the transgender community. The message it puts forth, in a roundabout way is seminal and it sprouts like a salmon pink flower on a prickly cactus. The story of Haddi is agonising, traumatic, thrilling and it tethers you to its world of characters masquerading as oppressors and criminals.

Somewhere in Prayagraj U.P, a jubilant funeral procession is approaching a crematorium at night, when they are hastily interrupted by the cops. Nawazuddin Siddiqui blends among the mourners and incites a fight between the police constables and those who were carrying out the procession. Using that as a distraction, he snaffles the body of the deceased and makes a run with his accomplice Malkan. Once scot free, the two board a bus. Amid a conversation about their boss, Nawaz’s character punctures his neck and throws him off the bus.

The film swiftly changes the timeline and we see how Haddi surreptitiously became a part of a gang run by Inder (played by Saurabh Sachdeva), who is a lackey to a power-hungry sans shady politician Pramod Ahlawat (played by Anurag Kashyap). Handling one of the most heinous syndicates for him, Inder who is initially hesitant to include Haddi in their businesses, interrogates him about his motives of joining him. Only after all his doubts are cleared, Haddi begins working for them.

Meanwhile, Haddi’s intentions remain mostly cloaked, even with glimpses from his childhood, dancing gleefully in a woman’s dress, being dragged by his hair, getting lynched. The flashbacks are sporadically spread across the length and breadth of the movie, giving the viewers a hazy idea about his origin, his motive behind doing what he is doing. But for the most part, Haddi’s harrowing tale of anguish continues to be a subject of speculation, a device that the makers have used cleverly. Using all the ruse and maneuvers at his disposal to win the trust of Pramod Ahlawat, Haddi’s intentions and his unpleasant past comes to light only midway through the movie, leaving one shocked, heartbroken and numb. Whether he’ll be successful to exact his wrath on Pramod Ahlawat or not forms the flesh and ‘bones’ of the film.

For starters, Akshay Ajay Sharma’s film is not for those who are queasy at heart. It’s not the blood and gore in the film that will get to you, but the sensitive subject which eclipses the systematic, intricate and heinous framework of gender and sexual oppression. What adds verve to this violently poignant story are characters like Revathy Amma(played by Ila Arun) and Irfan(played by (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), that are the only backbones of Haddi’s life. In a world that perceives Haddi’s gender orientation as an anomaly through jaundiced lenses, Revathy Amma, Irfan and other characters embrace his identity without any fuss or judgements.

There are many indelible and memorable scenes that leave an everlasting impact on you, others form a lump in your throat. Haddi making a transition under Revathy Amma’s care, is one of such sequences. With Rekha Bhadwaj’s balming rendition of Beparda in the background, one gets an intimate and closer look into Haddi’s journey of espousing womanhood. His love story arc with Irfan is smothered with dollops of love and wholesomeness. Then there is a nod of acknowledgement by Haddi, decked up in an elegant saree, smiling back at his past self, knowing that now he is in a better place. Revathy Amma’s gharana feels like home to him, Irfan’s companionship is a balm to his past wounds.

The writing of the film is crisp and the credit rightly goes to Adamya Bhalla and Akshat Ajay Sharma. It’s an unconventional, emblematic story that derives all the best parts of commercial and parallel cinema. It’s relatively hard to put Haddi in any one single genre since it glides through tenets of crime, thriller, drama and action but that chaos only lends gravitas to the movie. Similarly, the characters have been fleshed out in a way that they keep you hooked to all the sub-plots of the film. The music album by Rohan-Rohan is the soul of the film. Songs like Shooter Saiyan and Beparda make some of the crucial scenes in the film dramatic and impactful. Similarly, Piyush Puty, Jay Oza’s cinematography and Tanya Chhabria’s editing is praiseworthy.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s portrayal of Haddi is undoubtedly one of the best performances of his career. His transformation into a transgender woman, with all the mannerisms, demeanor, way of speaking is nothing short of stellar. He equally shines bright even without the hairdo, the makeup, the outfits and the paraphernalia in all the scenes he is required to. Anurag Kashyap as Pramod Ahlawat is a revelation, since picturing him as a ruthless, inexorable villian would not have crossed anyone’s mind except Akshat.

In a way, Anurag Kashyap has surpassed his own antagonist Ramadhir Singh. A particular scene where he has his headphones on, vibing to music in the wake of bloodshed around him will send chills down your spine. Saurabh Sachdeva as Inder is another actor that deserves all the applause. After Vadh, Haddi showcases his sheer brilliance in the best way possible. Ila Arun is always a breath of fresh air in films. In Haddi too, she impresses you with her wise, motherly instincts. She is considered a masterclass for a reason. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub plays the perfect ally to Nawazuddin’s character Haddi and his chemistry with him is off the charts. The rest of the cast including Shridhar Dubey, Rajesh Kumar, Vipin Sharma, Ivanka Das are perfect for the story.

In the end, Haddi is a lot more than an entertaining crime and action saga. It’s subliminal message is profound, loud and important for the society to understand. And the commentary doesn’t get lost in the ocean of incredible performances by artists like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Anurag Kashyap, Saurabh Sachdeva, Ila Arun and others. The non-linear style of storytelling can be jarring in the beginning, but once it hooks you, it leaves you overwhelmed and emotional.


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