'Haseen Dillruba' is a direct OTT release, currently premiering on Netflix in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. Let's find out what works and what doesn't work with the crime thriller.
Rani (Taapsee Pannu) is a modern-looking beautician from a family of seemingly liberated women. She has forgotten her first love and is trying to cozy up to her husband Rishabh Saxena (Vikrant Massey) after an arranged marriage. Much as she tries to make their marriage interesting, Rani fails to.
This is when her husband's cousin Neel Tripathi (Harshvardhan Rane) enters the screen. Her budding infatuation with him develops into an extra-marital affair. She starts loving him and decides to dump her husband. But this is when a twist arrives. What Rani does after this determines the direction of the three lives.
Taapsee Pannu dominates the film, with her character being seen in almost every single scene. She doesn't look vulnerable and that's the biggest undoing. As a housewife who loves reading crime novels, she is not satisfying even when the going gets really tough.
Vikrant Massey looks coy in the initial portions. While the way his character undergoes transformation is unsettling, his performance is impressive. Harshvardhan Rane fits the bill. Aditya Srivastava as Inspector Kishore Rawat is an old-fashioned cop and is a turn-off.
Amit Trivedi's music and Jaya Krishna Gummadi's cinematography don't lend a texture to the narration. If the songs work to an extent, it's only because of the lyrics. The visuals are good enough but only so much can be said about them.
Director Vinil Mathew and writer Kanika Dhillon tell the story of a married couple by cramming too many events into their dangerous lives in the span of a few months. Had Rishab and Rani been shown as old-time lovers who get married after years of a love-hate affair, the evolution of their marital lives would have made so much sense.
Rishab is a boring Engineer. On the other hand, his wife Rani likes someone who is dashing and naughty. Having read crime novels all her life, she expects her husband to be filmi. But Rishab turns out to be the 'mudda pappu' she doesn't like to consummate her marriage with. (At one point, this reviewer was reminded of the overrated YouTube web series '30 Weds 21'. Rani falls short of calling her overly naive husband 'uncle').
There is no reason why Rishab has to pine for Meena, the girl he had first seen in a 'pelli choopulu'. Why is he a bumbling morn after marriage? Why on earth is Rani trying to look horny, talking about her sexual urges in a not-so-subtle language? Is she an erotic character from the crime novels she is so fond of? Why are the in-laws cartoonish? Why is the police inspector taking things too personally? Everything is underwritten in this crime thriller.
The husband grows irredeemably frustrated after a point. And he also starts behaving like a split personality who has taken on a new personality after curling up with a crime novel. The flashbacks come in installments and keep the suspense intact to an extent. That's the only relief.
The scenes between Rani and Neel are told like a love story between an unmarried woman and her prospective suitor. The set up is unconvincing and the way she falls in love with a stranger in no time is not at all satisfying.
The climax would have worked a great deal had the audience been invested in the characters.
'Haseen Dillruba' is an underwritten crime thriller involving a wife, her boring husband, and a dashing lover. The premise is engaging but the narration falls flat.