Saturday, April 8, 2017

Haraamkhor—Of Aag And Shakti

Shlok Sharma's Haraamkhor is the story of a teacher Shyam (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who has an illicit relationship with one of his students Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi). Shyam has two more students, Kamal (Irfan Khan) and Mintu (Mohammad Samad), who suspect that Shyam and Shweta are in a relationship. To complicate matters, Kamal is also in love with Sandhya. The story, thus, becomes a love triangle between the characters of different ages. 
There is an early moment in the film when Mintu tells Kamal, "Aag ke liye pani ka santulan bane rehna chahiye." Fire must fear water. Mintu says this in the context where he wants to tell Shyam's wife that his husband is having an affair with his student. By doing this, it would instill a fear in Shyam to not see Sandhya anymore. Throughout the film, the characters fear, or are trying to hide something. Interestingly, there is a similar dialogue in Vishal Bharadwaj's Maqbool. At some point in the film, Inspector Pandit and Inspector Purohit say to their boss, "Shakti ka santulan bahut zaroori hai sansaar mein, aag ke liye paani ka darr bane rehna chahiye." It is important that there is a balance of power in the world; fire must fear water. It is a thought-provoking concept. Thus, in Haraamkhor, this darr manifests in different ways. There is a fear of societal judgement and punishment given the illicit nature of the relationship between Shyam and Sandhya because of their age difference. Even when they are able to get away from the society to indulge in their activities, there is the fear that Sandhya could become pregnant, another form of 'fire must fear water'. In an interview with the Indian Express, Shlok Sharma, actually, said that he was inspired from Maqbool. He says, "Originally, the story had only three key characters—Shyam, Sandhya and Kamal, who holds a candle for the older girl. But inspired by the characters of Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool—based on Macbeth’s witches—it was decided to tap into the camaraderie between two boys to add humour to the otherwise serious story. I have borrowed a few dialogues from the film too, as an ode to Maqbool."
Related to the above, there is also something related to power—shakti. There is a character in the film named Shaktimaan. He is a friend of Kamal and Mintu. More than often, he wears only one set of clothes—the costume of Shaktimaan, the Indian superhero who caught the imagination of the masses during the nineties. The word shaktimaan means someone who is powerful. Further, Mintu and Kamal wear a Superman-type cape while plundering Shyam's house. Later, they enact that shirt-tearing scene from another powerful-hero film Dabanng. The film has many shots of windmills rotating due to wind power, hinting at another source of power. It is near the windmills that Sandhya and Shyam meet, and during their love-making, the wind is shown quite prominently. In addition, there are many scenes where Sandhya goes on to switch on the generator when there is a power-cut at home. Shyam, however, manages with an emergency light. In another source related to a different kind of power, Shyam has to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Sandhya's powerful policeman father. Even though Shyam might be a powerful person in his school, where he could hit any child at his discretion, he still needs to fear someone. Kamal is so powerless that his hands are fractured and he has to find someone to wipe his own bottom. All these are different manifestations of power. I am not sure if they are tied to the point that the film makes about power—Shakti ka santulan bahut zaroori hai sansaar mein, aag ke liye paani ka darr bane rehna chahiye—or, do they relate to some other context
Wind Power
In addition to the Shakespearean Maqbool-Macbeth references that the director talked about, at some point in the film, there is another ode to the Bard. At some stage, Shyam is teaching the kids about Shakespeare. He says, "Shakespeare has said the god of love is blind; he sees from the heart not mind." This is a rephrasing of the line from Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." The change that will fit with Shyam is the that it is not love, but lust. He is a philanderer who flirts with everyone, like the time he flirted with a female colleague and invited himself to her home. Shlok Sharma has worked with Vishal Bharadwaj on Omkara as well. Perhaps, that is why the Shakespearean references, like Vishal who is inspired by Shakespeare a lot. 
It is never clear in the film if the lack of fatherly attention was one of the reasons that drove Sandhya to have a relationship with an older man. Her father is having his own affair. He is often inebriated. In one of the film's scenes, Shyam is massaging Sandhya's head in front of the mirror. Sandhya chides him that he is not doing it the way her father does. At that point, Shyam is also wearing the cap of her father, which gives some sort of a feeling of an Electra complex in Sandhya.

The children in the film often talk about being mature. Mintu jokes with Kamal that he is not mature, and he is still a kid. The kids want to grow up faster. Sandhya has a relationship with a much older man. Kamal likes Sandhya who is much senior to him. He and Mintu have their own thoughts on what constitutes marriage. At an early point in the film, Sandhya's shoes are lost, and Kamal offers his shoes to her, but she refuses. A few moments later, Shyam offers his shoes to her, but by that time, she had found hers. During the climax, Kamal and Mintu steal Shyam's shirt, and they go to a field where Kamal wears it. When Kamal is caught by Shyam for stealing his shirt, he hits him, and runs naked to Sandhya, where she offers him her clothes. It is this that shows how the kids are behaving much older than their age, trying to fit in clothes and shoes much larger than their size. 
There is no role that Nawazuddin Siddiqui cannot do. He is brilliant like always. He just gets into the skin of the character. Shweta Tripathi looks really young than her real age. The kids Irfan Khan (Kamal) and Mohammad Samad (Mintu) are wonderful, though Samad's demeanor comes across a little urban for the character. I was surprised by Shreya Shah as Neelu. She was lovely in the film, and her character is so heartwarming, trying to break the strereotypes.
Both the names Shyam and Sandhya mean the evening. Shyam is another name for Lord Krishna. Kamal and Mintu used to call Shyam with a derogatory term for dark-colored people in Hindi and they made fun that how could a dark man get a girl like Sandhya. Their derision of dark color is so casual that one wonders from where they got it. And, then, in one scene, Shaktimaan sings the lines of a song from the film Geraftaar. He sings, "Dhoop mein nikala na karo Roop ki Raani, gora rang kaala na pad jaaye," which clears the doubts from where the impressionable kids learn such notions. 
Dialogue of the Day:
"Aag ke liye pani ka santulan bane rehna chahiye."
Mintu, Haraamkhor

1 comment:

Post a comment