Karma Network's HAASIL, written-directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, is a love story set against the backdrop of University politics in Allahabad. Though the film has several gripping moments and a power-packed performance by Irfan Khan, the outcome is hampered when the movie drifts into predictable zone, post-interval.
Ashutosh Rana and Irfan Khan are arch rivals and leaders of two political groups with their eyes on presidency of student's union. The rivalry turns intense as Irfan Khan shoots Ashutosh Rana's close associate. Then starts the revenge drama.
Meanwhile, amidst all this political mayhem, a love story blossomsï¿½
Jimmy Shergill is a University student and an enthusiastic participant in college dramatics. He secretly loves Hrishitaa Bhatt. Their relationship progresses in a rather subdued manner thanks to the conservative norms of the society. It is only through glances, smiles and letters that they finally come to know they are in love.
While rehearsing for one of his shows, Jimmy accidentally bumps into Irfan Khan, who, after committing a murder, is escaping from the rival gang. Jimmy helps him escape. One thing leads to another and they become close friends.
The problem for the lovers starts when Hrishita's father, with help from her cousins, catches the couple red-handed. The following day Jimmy shoots one of Hrishita's cousins and escapes to Mumbai. But, soon, Jimmy realises things are not as straight-forward and returns to his hometown only to find that Irfan Khan is about to marry Hrishita.
The rest of the story is all about the struggle of the two lovers to overcome all odds and remain together.
Director Tigmanshu Dhulia does a commendable job in depicting how politics has seeped into college universities. Also, the problems associated for boys and girls to interact in an orthodox society are deftly executed.
Tigamnshu has given the story a very realistic touch. Every aspect of the political functioning and the rivalry is looked into, in detail. The conservative norms, the helplessness of the students and the prevalent jungle raaj has all been described aptly.
However, in his effort to give an insight into the political scenario that is gripping the students' life, the director goes a bit too far, considering the love angle is overshadowed by the power-maniac politicians.
The initial footage given to the rivalry scenes is too lengthy. Instead, more scenes could have been added between the lovers to present a strong emotional bonding building up to the climax.
At times, you do feel sorry for the lovers and their worried parents, but otherwise the emotional quotient is on the lower side.
Jatin-Lalit's music is pleasant, complimenting the mood of the film. Cinematography is in accordance with the proceedings. Tigmanshu Dhulia's dialogues come in for special mention. His one-liners are witty and clean and keep your ears open for more.
Performance-wise, it's Irfan Khan all the way. Rarely do you see a performer in a negative role rising head and shoulders above the rest of the star cast. His presence and dialogue delivery instills life in every frame.
Jimmy Shergill comes across as a natural performer. His transition from a carefree teenager involved in dramatics to a fugitive on the run is convincing. Ashutosh Rana, in a cameo, makes his presence felt. As usual, he essays his part with conviction.
Hrishita Bhatt, with limited scope, is fair enough. Raj Zutshi goes overboard. Tinnu Anand is fair.
On the whole, the reality element coupled with good performances will go in favour of the film. Business in U.P.-Bihar and to some extent in Mumbai should prove to be better thanks to the identification with the story and the college setting. However, lack of an aggressive publicity campaign, coupled with the fact that the film is clashing with the biggies, will make a dent in its business.