Tapsee Pannu and Kanika Dhillon are the common factors in Manmarziyan and Haseen
Dillruba. The similarity in the characters is remarkable. The character, especially in
Manmarziyan, rang so true that after the rehash of this character for Haseen Dillruba, it’s safe to
say that Kanika has experienced this character at close quarters.
Tapsee is assured as Rani, the woman who gets married to an unbearably nice guy. She isn’t
happy with the “normal guy” love that Rishu (Vikrant Massey) showers on her and is rightly
pointed out by him that the qualities she expects are impossible for one person to have. This is
the crux of the story. This quest of love that we have been fed by pop culture.
Haseen Dillruba is a fascinating film. Not because it is flawless or because it is the suspenseful
thrill ride that it actually aims to be. Haseen Dillruba is trying to be something. It is interesting
and it fails because it aims high. The film is straddling two genres but the skill required to walk
that tightrope is sorely missing. Kanika Dhillon has done a remarkable job of showcasing
interesting women on screen with her recent outings, namely Manmarziyan, Judgemental Hai
Kya and Now Haseen Dillruba. But films, nowadays, are more about thrill rides than any sort of
character study that rings true and hence apart from Manmarziyan the other 2 films fall flat when
they change lanes. It would be much more interesting to see what Kanika does with these
characters in a novel format.
The days of the audience sitting at the edge of the seat have been gone for a long time. You
rarely see Mystery gems and the last one that would rank amongst the greats was the 2019
classic Knives Out and one wonders which one played all the right tricks before that. Haseen
Dillruba is influenced in terms of the trick that it plays from Usual Suspects but that is the tough
act to follow and clearly it doesn’t match up. The twist becomes clear somewhere after the first
half and then it becomes difficult to take the films seriously.
Vikrant Massey is terrific, as usual, as Rishu. Massey hits all the right notes and is utterly
believable in a character which is well written but rings less truer than Rani. Vikrant’s genius lies
in selling to the audience this unreal metamorphosis. Special mention for Yamini Das who is
hilarious as Rishi’s mother. She needs to be seen more on the hindi screen.
Haseen Dillruba is trying to bring in the flavor of pulp novels and the artifice is inherent to the
story. It is trying to sell you an idea of love which rings true in pulp novels but lacks the great skill
to make it believable. It only ends up feeding in the false romantic notion of what love should be.
Vishal Naik is a film editor, writer, producer and director based in Mumbai. His short film Nanne Munne Bachche Teri Mutthee Main Kya Hai charts the crossroads of philosophical and existential aspiration. He is a writer and producer on the Hindi remake of the Malayalam thriller Irul which will be made as a trilogy.
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