Director: Vinil Mathew
Writer: Kanika Dhillon
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey, Harshvardhan Rane
Streaming on: Netflix
Haseen Dillruba must have read well on the page, that’s why we have the film. The film is a genre mash-up which I don’t have any problem with. In fact, I find romantic comedies and thrillers to be strangely similar to each other. This film is a romantic thriller. But the merger of the two genres is so bizarre that I kept wondering, who are these people and what is this?
The film is written by Kanika Dhillon who has previously written an equally bizarre but thoroughly engaging Judgementall Hai Kya, a stunning Manmarziyaan and a decent Kedarnath. Haseen Dillruba shouts for attention but it is tough to care. The setting is a small town. You have to bear with all the small town clichés which you have seen hundreds of times in the recent past. Tamed father-in-law, fiery mother-in-law, inquisitive relatives and neighbors, drinking on terraces, chai time banters, and the list goes on.
This is a female driven film so the men in the film are timid. I get it. The hero archetype in any story does all the kaands and the second fiddle plays the role of a supporter. One plays Circuit to the other’s Munnabhai. Only the gender changes. There’s already a growing (and much needed) debate on the ‘male gaze’ and a need for the ‘female gaze’. I hope there are enough movies made from both gazes. So that we know that both are essentially creating what they want to see in the world. Both gazes are one-sided perspectives and can be equally toxic. Like a line from this film goes “Har kahaani ke na bohot pehlu hote hain. Fark bas yeh hota hai ke kahaani suna kaun raha hai”. And sadly enough, nowadays, who says matters a lot more than what is being said.
Haseen Dillruba has Taapsee Pannu playing Rani Kashyap, a Delhi girl fascinated by railway station crime thrillers by one Dinesh Pandit. Pannu’s filmography has thrillers like Badla, Game Over, Baby, Naam Shabana and Pink. Here, she offers nothing new as a Delhi girl (Kareena’s iconic Geet from Jab We Met hasn’t left much for anyone else to play as a North Indian girl), a woman stuck in loveless marriage/family, falling for a lustful outlet in a distant relative (Harshvardhan Rane). The bizarre premise of the film is filled with too many clichés and caricatures.
The thriller is not predictable, so that’s a good thing. But the time taken to come to the conclusion is a test of patience, putting you through a corny romance, unimpressive dialogue, and a forgettable soundtrack and background score. As a writer, this is Dhillon’s least accomplished film. This is director Vinil Mathew’s second film after the charming Hasee Toh Phasee. Here, he’s not able to infuse that charm in Rani and her husband Rishabh’s (Vikrant Massey) relationship. Sure, their relationship has a rollercoaster graph from disinterest to later reconciling. But all of it feels more contrived than natural.Can understand why Pannu must have jumped on to do this film. But wonder what must have got the immensely talented Vikrant Massey interested in this film. The transition of his character and the film itself seems outright foolish. Sure, the truth is stranger than fiction. But in films, you need suspension of disbelief, which doesn’t happen in Haseen Dillruba.