Haseen Dillruba

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)

quick review:

Hindi pulp murder mystery, but on-screen, not in a novel. In that sense, it ends up as intended. A cheesy story that over-romanticises romance. Good performances are not enough to make it worth your energy and precious TV time.

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Director: Vinil Mathew
Running time: 125 minutes
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Haseen Dillruba made me wonder, “What was the point?” Not in a dismissive way, but genuinely trying to understand what the film was shooting for. To express the extent to which a person can go when they are in love—that’s the conclusion I reached. But that’s been done to death, right? So, a whodunnit layer was added. However, the idea also is to give the narrative a blatant Hindi pulp novel feel. And that also means, for some reason, keeping the milieu regressive and misogynistic. Together, this creates a neither-here-nor-there kind-of-a-film that isn’t enjoyable while you are watching nor as an end result.

The chauvinism-induced cringes make the watch annoying even if you try to treat it as satire.

We are thrown right into the game with Haseen Dillruba’s first sequence, only to be asked to take a step back and slow down. The timeline moves back and forth, and when it is all over, you can see why the makers picked that particular point to begin the film.

Were it told to us in a linear timeline, the story might have been a crisper film because it would have avoided the endless repetitions. But then, the loopholes would have been difficult to cover. In this format, we weren’t given much time to think about what actually transpired. When this is the reason for a non-linear narration, it usually implies the story by itself isn’t very interesting. Especially when the main story is set only within the span of a few days.

But that is analysis after having watched the film. As it is told, though, Haseen Dillruba just about manages to keep you engaged without kindling intrigue. It doesn’t help that while watching the movie, the chauvinism induced cringes that I, at first, tried hard to sweep under the satire mask. The film certainly didn’t want us to miss it. In a bit, though, the stereotyping became annoying—especially because only a woman was making a woman follow the rules of patriarchy. All the men were progressive. If the idea was to show reality, a couple of men would be making the protagonist’s life difficult too. If the idea was to be idealistic or funny, why leave the woman out?

This brings me back to the question I began with, “What was the point?” The ones that the film picks, it doesn’t seem to address completely. Hopefully, the makers know, and I didn’t catch it entirely. But, if that’s the case, they couldn’t convey it well enough for people like me. In such a case, even if Taapsee Pannu and Vikrant Massey did a great job of keeping me engaged, I couldn’t recommend you to give the film a try just for them.

- meeta, a part of the audience

23 reviewers(?) - 3 yays 10 so-so 10 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...The film airs on OTT, thanks to the pandemic and the lockdown. But it’s one of those products that deserved a theatrical release. Perhaps, in the future, when things get better, the makers can opt for a theatrical release. Watch it for its dark take on love and for the brilliant performances by the entire ensemble cast.... full review

Thumbs up, The Quint : ...Having said that, one must acknowledge that Haseen Dillruba keeps us riveted for most parts at least. Taapsee and Vikrant are in top form ensuring we quite willingly get sucked into this pulpy universe.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...Among the character actors, Yamini Das as Rishu’s raucous mother, brings good comic relief and innocence. Music (Amit Trivedi) and cinematography (Jayakrishna Gummadi) compliment the film’s contrasting tone.... full review

So-So, by Mugdha Kapoor Safaya, DNA : ...Verdict: It's a mystery thriller that lacks pulp. The cast deserves better.... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Haseen Dillruba is Vinil’s second film after Hasee Toh Phasee, seven years ago. Hasee Toh Phasee, a rom-com set amidst a shaadi, had a real sweetness to it. Haseen Dillruba has a more jaundiced view of what men and women do to each other. But like in the first film, the balcony plays a key role. Jwalapur is a town on a river – parts of the film were shot in Uttarakhand. Vinil and DOP Jayakrishna Gummadi make good use of the shimmering water and the multi-level home. Those balconies, overlooking the flowing river, are made for romance.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...'Milaa Yun' crooned by Yashita Sharma and Abhay Jodhpurkar stands out in the music album of Haseen Dillruba. 'Dil Melt Karda' falls short of being a memorable love song despite its quirky lyrics. 'Lakeeran' and 'Phisal Jaa Tu' blend well with the narrative.... full review

So-So, by Sushmita Bose, Khaleej Times : ...The best part about Haseen Dillruba, however, is the Roald Dahl “inspiration”. For me, that was the game-changer. It borrows a leaf from the title page of one of my favourite short stories by him — those dark, macabre ones with twisted endings. I will not tell you which one because that will be a spoiler, but if and when it rings a bell, do drop me a line!... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, despite all the gritty elements it possesses, Kanika Dhillon‘s story tries extremely hard to touch & nail too many genres, eventually exploding right at the end. All this needed was cutting short 20 minutes, establishing a substantial footprint in at least one of the many things attempted.... full review

So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...All this makes for an odd, unpredictable film. Some scenes strain the bounds of credulity, like the talk between Rishabh and Neel after a fight; others such as the rooftop confrontation are perched on the edge of sanity. I found the jokey first half to be more emotionally sound, based as it is on the unhappiness and confusion of a young woman living with strangers in a strange town. After she acts on it, the mounting hysteria makes the characters seem shallower and the film a touch desperate. Like the song it takes its name from, you might end up asking, yeh kya ghazab hua, yeh kaise kab hua—what just happened?... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...In the course of the interrogation, the inspector asks Rani how her marriage with Rishabh was. Sometimes good, sometimes not, she replies. That sums up Haseen Dillruba. It works only in parts.... full review

So-So, by Gautaman Bhaskaran, News18.com : ...Pannu is getting better with every work of hers, as a rani, she just rules with an amazing are swinging from disappointment to distress to even extreme fear. She is captivating as a woman pushed by unavoidable circumstances, conveying her deepest desires with remarkable lucidity.... full review

So-So, by Ankita Mukherjee, Pinkvilla : ...The film is too slow but keeps the suspense till the end. Sometimes good, sometimes not as the protagonist Rani Kashyap keeps saying. The storytelling meanders a lot but why it was bearable to me because of the performance of the actors. Vikrant Massey deserves a special mention here. Taapsee Pannu did her part well too but I expected more from the film.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...The beating heart of this misfired amour fou isn’t the woman for whom sympathy is sought to be evoked. Vikrant Massey is riveting as the repressed husband whose thwarted passion takes a dark turn. Massey’s layered exploration of Rishu’s sadness and cruelty easily eclipses his co-star’s efforts. While Rani nearly never repeats an outfit, Taapsee Pannu sticks to a limited set of expressions and actions to convey her character’s turmoil.... full review

Thumbs down, by Russel D'Silva, Bollywood Life : ...Taapsee Pannu has set a standard for strong, empowered characters in her movies, be there may in female-oriented films or otherwise. Combined with the plot holes the size of craters on the moon (her mostly astute script sense also seems to have abandoned her this time), which succeed in making medical science a joke of the highest order, and the regressive intent of the movie in showcasing women in the face inflated male egos; Hassen Dillruba needs a nearly herculean act from Taapse, Vikrant Massey and Harshvardhan Rane to keep it afloat, and credit to them for just about managing it. I'm going with 2 out of 5 stars purely for the trio.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, Deep's Home : ...It’s quite obvious to the viewer what the so-called suspense will turn out to be, but this ridiculous ‘love story’ goes on for 135 minutes, with Taapsee Pannu trying hard to make Rani sympathetic, if not likable, and Vikrant Massey looking either sheepish or sulky. This Kasauli Ka Keher (the fictional bestselling book everybody reads) kind of plot is quite regressive; and replacing the meek heroine of old romantic movies with an unpleasant one is not doing feminism any favours.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, Free Press Journal : ...The one true triumph of Haseen Dillruba lies in the credits being headlined ‘story, screenplay and dialogues by Kanika Dhillon’. I am not sure of many films where a writer gets that kind of billing unless she is the film’s director too. It gives an idea of the place Kanika has carved for herself with Manmarziyaan, Kedarnath and Judgementall Hai Kya. And like in these films, where she created women straining to break free of the boundaries of a patriarchal society, here too she gives a character to root for in Rani, not surprisingly labelled a ‘daayan’.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times : ...The film comes across as a compromise, as if it was wrenched away from the team behind it, and severely edited until all of its faux-edginess had worn off. This is not ideal, considering that being edgy was probably its mission statement. Tonally, Haseen Dillruba takes such a drastic swerve around the halfway mark that it never recovers. Although, in fairness, it was barely limping along before it decided to drive off a cliff. Everyone involved is capable of better.... full review

Thumbs down, by R.M. VIJAYAKAR, India West : ...So you can miss the movie, too. Despite some humor in the first half... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...Frankly, none of this would’ve mattered if it was simply a full-bodied murder mystery. I’m not saying Kate of Middletown or anything — that’s high ambition. But this is the sort of script that I’m pretty sure reads well still.... full review

Thumbs down, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Outlook India : ...The rest of the film doesn’t move on its own with scenes and twists deliberately thrown in. Sadly, in all looks like trivia that only goes on confirm lack of cohesion and plot laziness. The screenplay rambles in many directions for long before one realises that the overall theme and premise is all about lack of passion on the one hand and sexual desire on the other.... full review

Thumbs down, by JOGINDER TUTEJA, Planet Bollywood : ...That said, what eventually matters is that whether Haseen Dillruba works as a whole for a viewer. Well, with better structuring around some crucial scenes and some more thought into the climax and the back story could have made it a better experience.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Ironically, for a film that treats its female character so poorly, it also makes the female crew shine. Taapsee Pannu’s name leads the cast credits (as it should), and Kanika Dhillon has been given due credit as story, screenplay, dialogue writer, appearing prominently even on the trailer.... full review

Thumbs down, by Srivatsan S, The Hindu : ...In all its absurdity, the film seems like it was born out of a mouthwatering conceit, something Drishyam 2 utilised to reap the maximum benefits. It involves a novel idea; a twist that is based entirely on a device. But the thing is, when it arrives, the train has already left the station.... full review

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1 readers - 0 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

So-So, by Raj : Big screen small TV police investigation

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: The murder and something around it is quite violent
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: It is implied that a couple has extra-marital sex
  • Concept: Murder mystery
  • General Look and Feel: Small-town India

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Haseen Dillruba - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
125 minutes
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Comments (1)

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Raj

Dear Meetu, Thanks for the review. Kanika Dhillon the writer is the main force behind the whole idea for this movie - which I guess with inputs from her new boy-friend Himanshu Sharma - who too is a good story-teller and also a producer of the movie

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