The year 2017 was one for gangster films. We had Raees in January, then Arjun Rampal’s Daddy and the latest is Shraddha Kapoor’s Haseena Parkar. While the whole of India knows about Dawood Ibrahim, little is known about his sister, Haseena Parkar amongst the masses. In this particular context, it is similar to Daddy, which told the tale of Maharashtrian mafia kingpin, Arun Gawli, who was also unknown outside the state. It is also Shraddha Kapoor’s first biopic and Apoorva Lakhia’s comeback after the debacle of Zanjeer (2013).
What's it about?
Apoorva Lakhia’s film tells the tale of Haseena Parkar, Dawood Ibrahim's sister, who from a timid Konkani Muslim girl rose to became a feared lady don in Mumbai’s Nagpada area. It explores her relationship with her brother, husband and the world of crime. Haseena Parkar also aims showcase how the lady instilled the fear of her brother amongst the public and slowly built a clout of her own. And yes, it does not call Dawood by the name, it is just Bhai in this flick.
The first half is relatively decent. We are introduced to the Kaskar family, where the two eldest sons, Dawood and Shabbir have embarked into the world of crime. Their sister, Haseena loves them dearly and enjoys the small spoils of their misdeeds like an imported watch and more pocket money. She gets married as her brother rises in the world of crime. The chemistry between Siddhanth and Shraddha is natural. Also, the events are chronicled year-wise, so it is very easy to understand. Actors Priyanka Sethia, Rajesh Tailang and the actor who plays the judge are in fine form. They have the maximum screen space after Shraddha and deliver well. The dialogues between the two lawyers (Sethia – Tailang) are witty and will make you chuckle. Ankur Bhatia as Ibrahim Parkar is easy on the eye and performs effortlessly. The background music is good and the film does not lose pace anywhere. Haseena Parkar has incidents like the encounter of Pathan gangster Sammad Khan, the killing of Ibrahim Parkar and infamous JJ Hospital shootout in 1992. Unlike Daddy, the film hints that some members of Mumbai’s police supported the idea of fielding local goons against the reign of the Pathans. The Hindu-Muslim angle is slightly hinted at. This is the bravest thing in the film. Some of the one-liners are quite good, especially when Haseena's lawyer tells the prosecution that they are behaving like journos clamouring for TRPs.
The biggest problem is the story. Haseena Parkar is not a docu drama like Daddy nor is it a commercial gangster entertainer like Once Upon A Time In Mumbai. And it does not fare well as a biopic either. We don’t get an insight into the inner world of Dawood – Haseena nor is her journey to being an Aapa told in some detail. The film moves at break-neck speed leaving you with zero takeaways. The linear narrative gets boring after a point of time. In a film, that is supposed to trace a bro-sis story, there are no high-impact scenes between the two. We get exposed to their inner world at a very surface level. Shraddha Kapoor is very patchy throughout the film. While she is superb in the scene by the tap, she fails to evoke any menace as the elder Aapa. As a slightly middle-aged female don, she is totally disappointing. Siddhanth shows promise in the initial stages but then his presence is brutally reduced in the film. It looks like he is there just to enquire about Haseena’s well-being post interval. The second half falls flat due to the poorly-written characters of the two in the latter stages of their life. There was scope for so much drama and emotion in the post 1992 riots scene but the film wraps up quickly leaving us totally unsatisfied. Her journey post her husband's death is not delved in any detail.
What to do?
Juvenile story-telling, melodrama and an shaky lead actor does not take Haseena Parkar to the level, it was expected to. And what is the point of revisiting a female don’s life if the story fails to thrill. Sorry Shraddha, Arjun’s Daddy left its mark better…
2 out of 5
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