‘Haraamkhor’: The Wretched And Windmills That Saw It All
Haraamkhor is a one-of-a-kind movie where even one mistake could have changed the movie for the worse. It explores the taboo around sexual relationships between a teacher and an underage student who did not look good to the Censor Board and could get a green signal from them only after a few trimmings. It starts off with a black-and-white disclaimer about offenses against minors and how the film does not condone it and rather experiments on all the grey in between. Sharma’s plot is convincing enough in a small rural setup as he pushes the viewers’ belief to replace everything that seems wrong with naivete.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character Shyam is introduced as a Maths teacher who has a tenacious anger issue which is unnecessarily inflicted on his students through the run of the movie. Siddiqui acts more with his physical gestures than with his vocal ones, touching his female students inappropriately, eyeing them with lust disguised with care, turning on his students like a ravening beast. Shweta Tripathi plays the role of Sandhya, one of Shyam’s students who falls hopelessly in love with him and ignores his beyond the pale behavior. Kamal is another one of Shyam’s students who harbors a crush for Sandhya and is goaded on by his friend Mintu to pursue it. There are other supporting characters who fill the lacunae of reason in the story, Sandhya’s alcoholic cop father; his secret girlfriend, and Sunita, Shyam’s wife who assiduously complains about Sandhya.
On The Rocks
Shyam and Sandhya embark on an ill-matched relationship and she deems his violent behavior as love. His ruthless and manic behavior is drowned out by sounds of the irate windmills and Sandhya’s gullibility. While nympholepsy is brewing in the background, Kamal and Mintu are orchestrating their own plan of action to bag Sandhya to marry him. While Kamal’s actions might seem cute, what is missed is the underlying misogyny in his thought of owning Sandhya only because he saw her naked. Sandhya foolishly thinks herself wise-beyond-her-years because her mother left her when she was young and her father is too busy carrying on his own affair justifying her own actions.
In A Pickle
The movie takes a wild, mercurial turn when Shyam beats two female students and Sandhya fears a pregnancy scare. From this point on it seems that there are no true ‘feelings’ from Shyam’s side and he can now be seen as a sexually and physically abusive man. Sandhya and Shyam’s little trip to the doctor’s office is the only high after which everything goes downhill. Shyam ends his relationship with Sandhya and departs by quoting, ‘Beej ganit kamzor hai apka’ (You are weak in algebra).
While Sandhya finds the friend she had been looking for in her father’s girlfriend, all hell breaks loose for Shyam when his wife Sunita gets a whiff of the illicit affair her husband might be having. Sunita was a student of Shyam’s too revealing his perpetual predatory behavior. To punish Shyam in their own way Kamal and Mintu raid his house and leave it in a pickle (literally) when he is out on his bicycle trying to salvage his marriage.
The movie halts on a disappointing note and a catastrophic ending that wasn’t expected or needed. The entire plot is a rough patchwork with a few places not placed quite right. The plot does not glamourize the relationship between an adult and minor, instead, it conveys the courtship as a wolfish attempt of a calculating miscreant; Sandhya and Kamal are right in their own place as kids who want to take the train to maturity before schedule. Washed out frames narrate this story as naturally as could be seen in an arthouse realism style. It is a worthwhile movie to watch if one wants to give chance to experimental Indie cinema that brings a Lolita-esque portrayal with a rural backdrop and too many shots of windmills.
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