Haddi review: Nawazuddin spews fire and breathes revenge in this crime neo-noir
Haddi opens with the shot of a blood clad butcher knife and a prologue around the wrath of a transgender. In fact, the last shot that ends the film also focusses on a blood spilled face of Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays the titular protagonist in the revenge noir drama directed by Akshat Ajay Varma. Blood emerges as the leitmotif in the violent orgy of crime, gore and killings that circumscribes Siddiqui’s troubled journey from Hari to Harika to Haddi.
A seemingly unassuming eunuch Haddi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) leaves his hometown of Prayag Raj and joins a group of transgender criminals in Delhi. Haddi infiltrates the gang and becomes a significant force in the world of crime. But who is Haddi actually? What is Haddi’s motive? Soon, Haddi encounters the land mafioso, Pramod Ahlawat (played by Anurag Kashyap) through his allies – a gangster turned politician who also runs a shady and illegal business of human bones and seems to have a connection with Haddi’s tormenteos past.
Akshat Ajay Varma, who worked as an assistant director under Anurag Kashyap inherits the qualities of his mentor and displays a nuanced understanding of the world of crime and its complexities, inhabited by grey-shaded and twisty characters. The script, written by him and Adamya Bhalla, is uneven and you get a clumsy built-up. The plot gathers heat and momentum after nearly 40 minutes when it steers into the backstory (which is handled masterfully) and the reason for Haddi’s drive for vengeance is revealed. But again, it derails into a contrived climax and Bollywood masala fight where Nawaz vanquishes the army of Ahlawat. Looked like the writer duo ran out of thinking chops.
In one of his most surefooted performances, Nawazuddin Siddiqui spews fire and breathes revenge as he sinks into the soul of the transgender. He gets immaculate make-up as Harika, totally unrecognizable and imbuing her mannerisms. Last month, we saw Sushmita Sen emulating a real-life transgender in Taali – Nawaz is equally fiery and ferocious. It is a nuanced portrayal marked by descent into catharsis where Haddi loses loved ones to Ahlawat’s mayhem in one of the film’s most haunting sequences underlined by a compelling track from Rekha Bharadwaj, followed by grit and intensity.
Varma surrounds Haddi with an array of talented actors – the best is rendered by Saurabh Sachdeva, followed by Sridhar Dubey, Rajesh Kumar, Vipin Sharma and Saharsh Shukla. Kashyap, who played an antagonistic role before (Akira), is vicious and wicked, but straddled with low physical agility. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub who plays Haddi’s love interest is underutilized. Resh Lamba’s part is also not etched out well. Ila Arun registers a strong impact as Amma.
This bone gets difficult to bite and needed more meat despite a fleshed-out performance by its leading man.
I go with 3 stars out of 5 for Haddi. Produced by Zee Studios, Sanjay Saha and Radhika Nanda’s Anandita Studios, the 2-hour 14 minute film is streaming on ZEE5 platform from 7th September 2023.