‘Haraamkhor’ Review: A Dark & Relevant Tale Told With Innocence
‘Haraamkhor’ is an important film, one that needs to be seen and talked about. I give it 3 QUINTS OUT OF 5.
Why on earth did the CBFC ban ‘Haraamkhor’ ? This question will continue to nag you throughout the film.
The plot chronicles the relationship of a 14-year-old girl and her adult teacher. The wise folk at the CBFC dismissed this as being an “unacceptable” theme, but it is precisely this that makes ‘Haraamkhor’ so relevant.
Sexual exploitation of children is a sad but seldom discussed reality. What’s more, the perpetrators are usually those who enjoy the maximum trust of the victim.
‘Haraamkhor’ is set in an unspecified village. The time it is set in is also unclear; but if the Tetris video game that the teenage girl was playing is any indication, then the film may be set in the 90s or early 2000s.
We meet Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi) and the other children, who are crammed into a tiny room as their tuition teacher Shyam (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) tries to impart a few instructions in a bid to discipline his rowdy band of students. All of it seems perfectly innocent, until Sandhya and her teacher steal glances.
We suspect something is brewing between the two, and our thoughts are immediately echoed by the two boys on screen, Kamal and his naughty friend Mintu. Kamal nurses a huge crush on Sandhya – who barely even notices him – while Mintu churns out one ridiculous idea after another to help his friend win Sandhya over.
This novel “love triangle” is one of the many things that ‘Haraamkhor’ gets right. Full points to director and writer Shlok Sharma for surprising viewers with a masterful telling of a grim tale.
For most of the film, we see Shyam and Sandhya through the eyes of the pre-pubescent Kamal and Mintu. For the boys, Shyam is a rival and someone they have to defeat in order to win Sandhya’s affection. They do not see him as the predator that he truly is. This lends the film a touch of simplicity and innocence, that adds to its appeal.
And then there are those dark moments of raw passion between the young Sandhya and her teacher. These are a stark reminder of the vulnerable position that children like Sandhya often find themselves in, a position that exposes them to great danger.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is flawless as the predatory teacher, a tricky role, no doubt, and quite possibly the titular“haraamkhor”.
Shweta Tripathi, the girl who wowed us in Masaan, effortlessly transforms into a trusting 14-year-old. Even the young boys, Mohammad Samad and Irfan Khan put up a delightful act. The brilliant cast is the film’s greatest strength.
The film’s climax comes off as being contrived and the hand-held jerky camera shots give us a few moments of despair. Despite these, ‘Haraamkhor’ is an important film, one that needs to be seen and talked about.
I give it 3 QUINTS out of 5.
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