What’s with Taapsee Pannu and her eternal pursuit in finding the right “husband material”? We saw her being indecisive and conflicted over whom to choose, ultimately settling for Robbie (Abishek Bahchan) and ending the chapter with her ex-boyfriend Vicky (Vicky Kaushal), in Manmarziyan . In Haseen Dillruba , Taapsee finds herself in a similar state of indecisiveness over two men; one she desires and the one she settles for. Of course, it is not a question directed towards Taapsee but Kanika Dhillon, the writer of these two films. For, Haseen Dillruba comes across as a Manmarziyan redux — only a lot less cooler and more messier.
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The concept of ‘arranged’ marriage is a common string connecting these two. Unlike Rumi, Rani Kashyap (Taapsee Pannu, one of the two good things in Haseen Dillruba; the other one being Vikrant Massey) seems to be sorted. At least in her head. She wants a banda who’s six-foot tall, well-built, occasionally funny and an avid reader of Dinesh Pandit’s novels. Given the arranged marriage set-up, she only gets the five-foot eight-inch engineer banda Rishabh Saxena (Vikrant Massey). Rishu, as he is known, can fix anything. When he comes to see Rani for the first time, she asks him to fix the ceiling fan. And... he does. Later we know that the only thing he can’t fix is his marriage.
- Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey, Harshvardhan Rane and Aditya Srivastava
- Director: Vinil Mathew
- Storyline: A newly married couple goes through all the compatible issues involved in an ‘arranged’ marriage until the wife becomes the prime suspect of her husband’s death.
Rani hails from Delhi from an affluent, ‘modern’ family with whom she shares everything including her sex life, or the lack of it. Rishu, on the other hand, is a well-mannered, simpleton from Jwalapur whose idea of love is this: getting his wife’s name tattooed. Is this Kanika’s idea of how small town guys are? We are not sure. Rishu is a classic case of someone marrying outside their ‘status’. “Who wants to move from Delhi and live in Jwalapur,” asks Rani.
The issues crop up sooner. Rani and Rishu don’t consummate their marriage and they get increasingly awkward, physically; she doesn’t participate in the daily domestic chores...the saas bahu types, you get the drift. All the drama between Rani and her in-laws is written around the very idea of arranged marriages, which is a yay, but does it serve any purpose to the overall proceedings? We are not sure. The ‘other’ man in Haseen Dillruba comes from the intrusion of Neel (Harshvardhan Rane), Rishu’s cousin.
Neel is everything Rishu isn’t and there’s a running commentary on masculinity, which is irrelevant. Rani is instantly taken by Neel and she takes it a step further. Like Manmarziyan , there’s an extramarital affair here too. All this is fine but the main issue with Haseen Dillruba is its inconsistency. The tonal shift — from a domestic comedy, to a raunchy B movie, to a sinister plot — doesn’t seem like a seamless transition. You never, not even for once, get inside any of the characters’ heads and it is only laughable when we see Rishu’s sinister intentions.
In fact, the entire plot around Rishu’s murder — which is the opening scene — seems like an afterthought on Kanika’s part, just to avoid any references to Manmarziyan . The way scenes cut between the past and present murder investigation (of course, Aditya Srivastava plays an inspector) sometimes leaves a jarring effect.
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.
Haseen Dillruba is currently streaming on Netflix