Hindi Reviews

Haseena Parkar Review: Amateur Acting, Inconsistent Plot Reduce The Dreaded ‘Aapa’ To A Caricature

Apoorva Lakhia’s Haseena Parkar trailer had piqued little curiosity and ruffled more feathers, with the common question being – why her? The last we saw of her, she faked her own death to get away from her village idiot of a boyfriend and then somehow met him “half-way”. Not only was that film panned, her acting reinforced Kangana Ranaut’s nepotism comment. 


And now she returns, with an entire film relying on her; where she ditches the skirts and bling, and opts for sequined burqas, plum-coloured lipsticks, fuller cheeks (courtesy cotton balls or laddoos, it’s hard to say), and some uneven dusky coloured foundation. She has de-glamed herself clearly (or at least tried to), but the lack of acting inevitably guaranteed all the groans and eye-rolls. 

Shraddha Kapoor plays Haseena Parkar, a biopic on dreaded gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s younger sister. And when you’re not focusing on Shraddha’s insincere get-up, you’re wondering if the story in itself is a terrible one, regardless of the actors’ performance. Either way, it made Arjun Rampal’s Daddy look like the less-tacky biopic on a Mumbai-based criminal.

The film begins with a court scene, with two lawyers on the opposite sides dueling over why Haseena Parkar should go to jail. It’s a regular motif filmmakers have used (and exhausted) where the lead character, presumably one with shades of grey, is finally caught and how he/she proves him/herself that they aren’t the monsters we make them to be. There are cold stares, quote-worthy statements made, and soliloquies to make the audience sympathise with the character more. Something even Daddy and Rustom relied on to get the narrative going.

However, it’s always hit or miss with court dramas. Haseena Parkar, though, doesn’t tread an inch away from the ‘miss’. The lawyers bicker and bicker, like two squabbling children narrating the story about a fabled ghost to their mother (in this case, the judge). A lot of time is wasted on focusing on these lawyers who give Haseena the image of of a ruthless criminal.

In reality, we watch a girl in her late twenties with garish make-up on who pretends to be an older woman, talking meekly to show that age has slowed her down. Nothing appears convincing. Instead of taking us to that era when Dawood and his gang were coming up, I’m reminded of amateur skits that kids put up in schools. Except kids still try, unlike…

The main trouble with Lakhia’s film is the inconsistency in the characterisation and plot. Haseena is introduced as a young girl who obeys her family and religion, but has a soft corner for her brother. Whenever her brother is beaten up by the father, she goes to him with food and tries to cheer him. Even in her marriage, she comes across as someone who wants to be the “good wife” – pray everyday and keep the house clean. But for someone who heavily relies on the men in her life to go about her daily duties, there’s little learnt of how she became the aapa (sister) of Mumbai. One minute she’s young and subservient, the next minute she’s got plump cheeks and whips her son for minutes – the development is barely touched upon.

But singling out Shraddha in terms of bad acting would be grossly unfair, especially considering her brother, Siddhanth Kapoor, plays her reel-life sibling. The over-the-top screams, the overtly blinking eyes and anger that looks like they’re a part of Saturday Night Live – are proof enough that the two are siblings alright. 


Farhan Akhtar played a sleek, soft-spoken, Dawood with a bad wig in Daddy. Siddhanth, however, isn’t really sure about his Dawood. Bearded, gawdy clothes, and the most least convincing dialogues – this Dawood resembles a local ruffian more than anyone who’s remotely dreaded. 

For a film that originally intended on chronicling Haseena’s life, ends up focusing on irrelevant details, characters, with hurried cuts and camera work not really helping this lost cause. Of what could’ve been an interesting, maybe even a feminist take on a woman who made everybody afraid of her falters into a caricature of the person. It’s time Bollywood revisits the whole idea of biopics.


The Haseena Parkar review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.