Dir. Tigmanshu Dhulia. India. 2011.

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“Haasil’ raised many expectations despite it’s shoddy representation and many expected director Tigmanshu  Dhulia to improve over time. But that was not to be. Dhulia’s films be it “haasil’, ‘Charas’ or ‘Just Mohabbat’ have all failed at the box-office and even the critics have moved on in search of more dependable talent.  Nothing much was expected from the medium budget ‘Shagird,’ Dhulia’s fourth in a line-up of promising but typically compromised presentations. The film’s  sole claim to fame is the choosy Nana Patekar  starring in the lead as renegade police officer Hanumanth Singh- A role so very similar to his award winning turn in the Ram Gopal Verma starrer ‘Ab tak Chappan’ that it’s not funny. Tigmanshu Dhulia and Kamal Pandey have collaborated to give us this reedy tale configured in a style that appears snippety and singularly lacking in clarity.

Newly inducted crime branch Police officer (Mohit Ahlawat) finds himself caught up in a cesspool of political machinations and questionable police procedure soon after he walks into his office.

His senior Hanumanth Singh, a celebrated encounter specialist decides to put him through a trail by fire and the rookie finds himself unprepared for what is thrown at him by his boss. Over time and  after several shoot-outs and encounter killings, the equation between the two  officers begins to change. The film tries to explore this change in equation between the two and provides answers as to who comes out trumps in their highly immoral and illegal battle for supremacy.

Tigmanshu Dhulia’s narrative fails to provide a proper set-up and the development is also pretty weak and unconvincing.  Notorious gangster and political henchman, Bunty Bhaiyya(Anurag Kashyap)  whose character appears to be a dead-ringer for Raju Bhaiya, is integral to the plot. Hiis capture by the police at a wayside tea stall is smartly engineered  and scenes dealing with his incarceration  sharpen the insight into the politician-criminal-police nexus.  But the narrative begins to  lose connect in the first few  minutes itself when Hanumanth Singh is shown parlaying  for a greater cut, with a wily Foreign Minister wannabe. Each character is hell-bent on lining his pockets with as much wealth as he can. Everyone is corrupt here so it becomes doubly difficult to empathise with any single character in the film.

As the narrative plods along, the plot gets thicker and murkier. By then the body count has also risen a hundred fold. Three reporters are taken hostage by an  International terrorist outfit and one of them is even bumped off.  The narrative gets more and more convoluted and farfetched. There is little logic for what turns up on screen here. Hanumanth Singh  is debauched, cynical and corrupt and he is a calculated cold-blooded killer himself-albeit of criminals. He doesn’t suffer remorse for what he does so there appears  to be no difference between him and the people he is crusading against.  We never know why he is that way. So why should we care?

Rating:  * 

Johnson Thomas

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