Haddi: A Profound Crime-Drama Showcasing Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Brilliance
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, Nawazuddin Siddiqui doesn’t perform as much as he imbues himself into 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 agonizing, traumatic, thrilling, and it tethers you to its world of characters masquerading as oppressors and criminals.
The Intriguing Plot
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, 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 for 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 come 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.
Not for the Faint-Hearted
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), who 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 judgments.
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 acknowledgment 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.
Exceptional Storytelling and Performances
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 are 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 villain 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, is perfect for the story.
A Profound Message
In the end, Haddi is a lot more than an entertaining crime and action saga. Its 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.
Haddi is a cinematic masterpiece that delves into the dark and complex world of crime, gender identity, and oppression. It not only showcases the extraordinary talent of Nawazuddin Siddiqui but also delivers a powerful message about acceptance and embracing one’s true identity. This film is not for the faint-hearted, as it confronts sensitive issues with unflinching honesty. With exceptional storytelling, memorable performances, and a profound message, Haddi is a must-watch for those seeking a thought-provoking cinematic experience.