Rishu Kayshap (Vikrant Massey) is a dweebish engineer who somehow knows a lot about medicine. His family somehow roped him into an arranged marriage with a woman, Rani (Taapsee Pannu) who is doing her best to get his attention. Vinil Matthew’s Haseen Dillruba starts out with these two Bollywood archetypes only for them to try their hand at moral complexity. And that’s a good thing to say about a movie that tries a lot of messy things just like its characters would do. It does things the hard way.
Another hard thing that this Boll-indie film is killing its darlings. Rishu dies due to an explosion. The cops ask Rani and her neighbors what they think happened. But these witnesses seem to only care about regaling the cops with some old adages about marriage. This doesn’t help solve the case at all. When the cops talk to Rani, she even tells the lead investigator that she likes his version of the story. She hints at a truth too complex for anyone to believe. A truth that screenwriter Kanika Dhillon tries to reveal.
Before Haseen Dillruba solves its mystery, it ambiguously toes the line and hints that the truth is somewhere in between the cops’ and Rani’s versions. But somehow, its version of the Occam’s Razor feels too complex for anyone to follow. It introduces a lover as a motivation for Rani’s alleged crime, which is somehow both convoluted and boring. It dresses these actors down to make them look more human, but it’s not enough to make their dramatic entanglements more human.
Rishu also goes from looking like he wants to kill Rani to crying with Rani and wanting to reconcile. It’s understandable that this is Rani’s version of events. And she can take advantage of her situation by making Rishu as caricaturish as possible. But her story, and thus the film’s, has to be somehow believable. Or at least the execution of those ideas and emotions should be palatable. Viewers might even side with the cops and find her story suspicious and unprovable.
Lastly, Haseen Dillruba‘s version of a police investigation is also laughable. Viewers in Rani’s position would have laughed the cops off for accusing her of a crime without proof. Their other techniques include beating the ‘truth’ out of her literally, and then subjecting her to a polygraph test. They also catch her trying to condition her body before those tests, which is weird because polygraphs shouldn’t be admissible in court. This bad depiction of police work makes India look backward in front of international viewers. At this point, these fictional cops don’t deserve the truth.