Film: “Haraamkhor”; Director: Shlok Sharma; Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shweta Tripathi, Trimala Adhikari; Rating: **
Designed as an art house film, “Haraamkhor”, is a slice of life projecting the abuse of minor girls in rural India.
With precisely two shots of dark clouds with a silver lining in an otherwise hazy skyline, the film does not offer any hope or resolution to the problem that it referenced in the opening frame of the narrative, but instead, starkly presents a stray case.
The story primarily revolves around a debauched school teacher, Shyam Tekchand (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his students Kamal, Mintu and Sandhya.
Kamal is infatuated with Sandhya and he is prodded into believing by his buddy Minty that he would one day marry Sandhya. So while Kamal plans ways to propose to Sandhya, Shyam, who is already married to one of his ex-students, lusts for Sandhya and how he manages to entice her, forms the crux of the tale.
With blunt scenes, Director Shlok Sharma’s plot is simple and one dimensional but it effectively succeeds in capturing the lives of its grey characters with absurd precision.
The narration meanders at a leisurely pace and the entire narrative arc hinges on a forced mysterious note.
The first half aimlessly tries to establish the lives of the characters and dramatically ends before breaking for interval. The second half though repetitive, catches your attention as it picks up momentum, but it is the climax that takes an absurd twist and leaves the audience dissatisfied and thus does not move you.
On the performance front, Nawazuddin as usual is down to earth and ordinary. He plays the unscrupulous teacher, to perfection, but unfortunately he does not raise the bar of his own performance delivery. He is aptly supported by Trimala Adhikari as his wife Sunita.
With a realistic demeanour, Shwetha Tripathi who was earlier seen in “Masaan”, essays the role of Sandhya with natural ease and is convincing. But it is Master Mohammad Samad as Mintu and Master Irfan Khan as Kamal, who steal the show with their pranks and camaraderie. Their conversations and mischiefs infuse humour in an otherwise drab narrative.
Made on a shoe-string budget and shot on real locales, the film is well mounted with moderate production values. Mayur Sharma’s production designs are definitely worth a mention.
Cinematographer Siddharth Diwan’s camera work is unsteady and his frames are basic. The visuals and the sound is effectively layered by Editor Kratika Adhikari, but the jerky transitions and abrupt scenes, leave a lot to assume and thus make the film seem a tad amateurish.