Take the Drishyam -1 template which is – the protagonist commits an accidental murder and then he goes about covering all his bases so water tight that the police is not able to pin him down at the end and he goes scot free to live happily ever after. To this, make some minor changes. Make the heroine the protagonist. Instead of the hero getting ideas from films for the cover up, make it as pulp fiction Hindi novels from where the heroine gets her ideas. Now make the heroine a fire cracker similar to the one in Manmarziyaan. Bring the extra marital angle/cheating into this template. That is Haseen Dilruba (HD) for you.
The similarities end there. In Drishyam, George Kutty evoked the sympathy of the audience and they rooted for him till the end. In Marmarziyaan, one liked the spunkiness of Taapsee Pannu’s character through she was confusion personified. In HD though, the narrative doesn’t allow any of the characters to stay with us. The characterisation is layered with confusion and lack of clarity which extends for all the main characters.
The weakness of the plot extends further. An accident happens which takes away the life of a person. What follows as investigation is just comical interrogation of mainly one suspect. The screen play goes back and forth along with this daily questioning. We don’t see anything of forensic examination or scanning of the crime scene by the police.
Taapsee Pannu, who after Pink, Badla, Tappad etc. is in a different zone and can pull off a film all by herself is out of form here, I felt. As I mentioned, her role seemed repetitive and I wonder whether shooting during the pandemic hampered her make up. Vikrant Massey plays the husband character and as usual he is earnest in his portrayal. Harshvardan Rane is the “other man” in the triangle and has limited scope in the plot but for being an eye candy.
The film is shot well and brings the sights of a small town in North India very nicely. Director Vinil Mathew is sincere in bringing the script to the big screen. But he doesn’t do much to correct the flaws in the script and as the captain of the ship, fails here. Kanika Dhillon the writer, who incidentally wrote Manmarziyaan also, has a lot to answer in terms of the plot, the characters and the screen play. What holds the film is the writing (dialogues) which are sharp and at times funny and the performance of the cast.
Not that Haseen Dilruba is completely unwatchable. The silly plot and the screen play doesn’t engage you most of the times, yet it is an okay watch. Hope they don’t get inspired by Drishyam and start planning a sequel!