Remember those days in school when a female classmate had a crush on a teacher and we used to laugh about it? Sikhya Entertainment's latest film Haraamkhor starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Shweta Tripathi looks at the dark side of this aspect with a narrative tinged with humour.
Set in a small town in North India, Haraamkhor revolves around a relationship between Shyam (Nawaz), a school teacher and his student Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi), who is also the object of a classmate's affection. What starts off as a childish crush soon evolves into a forbidden relationship between the teacher and the student, while her love-struck classmate Kamal (Irfan Khan) and his resourceful pal Mintu (Mohammad Samad) try their best to throw a spanner in the works with their antics.
Nawaz slips into his character with effortless ease, though his performance is getting somewhat repetitive, specially his staccato dialogue delivery and his mannerism. However, Nawaz has played a complicated character and one would be left confused about whether to laugh at Shyam or despise him. Shweta, who made her debut as an actress with Masaan, is simply amazing in her portrayal of a young girl looking for love and being corrupted by the creepy teacher. Despite being 31 (we checked her Wikipedia page), Shweta has successfully managed to pull off the role of a starry-eyed teenager from a school in rural India.
Irfan and Mohammad Samad as Kamal and Mintu respectively provide the comic element in the otherwise sordid tale with their child-like enthusiasm for practical jokes and adventure. The two boys will remind you of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn as they seek adventures and make schemes with boyish gusto. Indeed, at times, when you are watching the track featuring Nawaz and Shweta, you will find yourself getting impatient to know what these two rogues (Kamal and Mintu) are up to.
At the outset, let us warn you that the film is not for everyone. The track between Shyam and Sandhya will make you feel creepy as hell and thankfully, director Shlok Sharma has diluted the effect by juxtaposing this narrative with the story of Kamal, whose puppy love seems pure and eternal and like a breath of fresh air when compared to Shyam's dubious affection for his student. Classroom crushes have always been looked at patronizingly by everyone, but this film will make one sit up and think about the potential for manipulation in such cases.
To Sharma's credit, he could have made the film preachy, but he chose to skirt the moral science lesson and present a story, which may not be palatable, but is sure as hell capable of making an impact while evoking some chuckles on the way.