Director Randeep Jha and writer Zeishan Quadri have a common influence. Anurag Kashyap. An influence that shows as the former was one of the filmmaker’s assistants during his film ‘Ugly’. The latter was also one of the many actors in Kashyap’s ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. Both combine their penchant for stories based in the hinterland and deploy mythological references to depict an observation based on a true story. In this case, ‘Halahal’, the new web film streaming on Eros Now, is based on the Vyapar Scam in 2013.
Dr. Shiv (Sachin Khedekar) is shocked by the sudden death of his daughter, an aspiring medical student. While he is told that the cause of death is suicide, Dr. Shiv is convinced that there is more to it than what meets the eye and concludes that the motive is murder. He is willing to go to any depths and lengths in search of the truth. He is aided in his quest by a corrupt but eventually well-meaning cop Yusuf (Barun Sobti). As they plunge in deeper, discoveries get murkier. Will they learn the truth?
ritten by Quadri, Sandeep Gade and Gibran Noorani, it’s interesting that Khedekar’s character is named after Lord Shiva, a symbolism of the consumer and the destroyer. The layers provided to both Dr. Shiv and Yusuf’s characters are multi-dimensional that they keep you glued to the film’s proceedings. It’s a simple premise without much meandering and both actors play it to their commendable best. A special word of mention to Barun, who has been surprising his fans with his web outings since ‘Asur’. What a welcome change from the chocolate lover boy image, he’s held for years on Indian television.
The production design by Mrinal Das and Alok Haldar and the cinematography by Piyush Puty stick true to the milieu giving us a transportive view of life and times in the gritty locales of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Edited crisply by Nitesh Bhatia, ‘Halahal’ makes for a decent viewing at 96 minutes.
It isn’t a perfect film but for the sincere and stellar performances of its lead actors, ‘Halahal’ makes for a riveting watch.