Deepa Gehlot cautions that it’s not advisable to watch “Haddi” after a meal because some scenes can be nauseating.
In just a few minutes, “Haddi” provides enough signals about what to expect – a lot of sudden violence and a dark, immoral universe that some filmmakers believe is a measure of their fearlessness.
Directed by Akshat Ajay Sharma, “Haddi” tests the limits of how much brutality viewers are willing to accept, given that there is no censorship on OTT platforms, so restraint can be thrown out the window.
The main character, called Haddi (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui), is so strangely and oddly named that if those scenes had been placed earlier in the film, a significant portion of the audience might have changed the channel.
Haddi is a transgender person with an unusual profession of body snatching, and when he is nearly caught in his hometown of Allahabad, he escapes to Delhi.
He joins a group led by Indar (Saurabh Sachdeva), a eunuch, who operates a prostitution racket and other rackets under the protection of politician Pramod Ahlawat (Anurag Kashyap).
Haddi is fearless and obedient.
The script (written by Sharma and Admya Bhalla) touches on Haddi’s past, child abuse, and a love story with Irfan (Mohammad Jishan Ayub) that is underexplored and Diksha (Ila Arun) in the transgender household of Revati Amma.
The film does glimpse into the hidden side of the transgender community with sympathy.
The fear people have of transgender individuals is contextualized with the story of Lord Rama blessing his transgender devotees, ensuring that their blessings and curses remain effective.
Revati’s mansion is under threat from Ahlawat, and he gives the order for a massacre, set to the soundtrack of ‘Shooter Saiyaan, Goli Chalaiye Hai Dhayein Dhayein,’ which is a satirical commentary on insensitivity.
What could have been a powerful sequence of mass violence is limited to cartoonish bloodshed, especially with Ahlawat donning headphones, dancing to music, and ‘operating’ his men.
Mass murders, public shootouts, and shameless murders are happening, and the Delhi police are asleep amid all this, except for one corrupt cop who knows about Ahlawat’s notorious business.
A character can die in an instant, and Haddi survives multiple gunshots because he believes that after a failed murder in adolescence, he cannot die. Such shortcuts to seriousness in a film that adopts a serious and realistic approach are absurd.
Making Haddi a eunuch is just a gimmick because it’s a revenge plot, and the character could have been a man or a woman.
Unlike recent narratives, this film doesn’t even attempt to provide justice for transgenders on the soapbox of an OTT project.
Nawazuddin was clearly drawn to this role as it offered him the opportunity to depict a soft, romantic side with women’s attire and scenes with Irfan, but it was expected of viewers to believe that an overly campy man is a sexy, desirable woman. It stretches credibility.
Anurag Kashyap, in a cameo, appears to take the role with a carefree sense of danger, as he doesn’t bother to act.
The film is random, throwing everything into the pot and seeing what the concoction is that ultimately weakens everything.
Haddi avoids the explicitness that has tarnished better OTT projects but allows violence to go unchecked.
After a meal, it’s not recommended to watch the film because some scenes in Haddi’s workplace can be nauseating.