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The Sister Also Rises

Saturday, September 23, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

Haseena Parkar
Apoorva Lakhia
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhant Kapoor, Ankur Bhatia and others
Rating: * 1/2

Dragged to the police station every day and questioned when the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993 took place, Haseena Parkar says her brother (never referred to by his name in the film) could not have done it because for him, “Mumbai is his first love.” When she asks him if he did it, he does not answer.

Left to Apoorva Lakhia, who shoots the Bhai in Dubai against opulent interiors, he would have laid out the red carpet for the don to come and rule the country!

Haseena Parkar is a biopic on the life of the sister, but has no particular point of view. At the end of the film the confusion is stated by a character—was Haseena a victim or an opportunist; was her life wrecked by her connection to her powerful brother, or did she take advantage of his power.

The film starts in a dingy Mumbai tenement where the Kaskar family lives—a police constable, his wife and twelve children. According to Lakhia, the brother was prone to violence and crime, but was pushed into the underworld by a cop, who used him to bring down Karim Lala and his Pathan gang.

Haseena is his favourite sibling, and he calls her “Beta.”  Her married life with Ibrahim Parkar (Ankur Bhatia), a restaurant owner and film extra, was happy till the dark shadow of the brother fell on him, and he was murdered by a rival gang, soon after another Kaskar son Sabir.  The killing is avenged by the murder of another Pathan, but the cops closing in results in the flight to Dubai and ostensibly an exodus of the family; only Haseena stays behind to look after her dead husband’s family and her own kids. She wants to keep her son away from crime, but cannot prevent it.

All she wants is to live her live in peace, though she is not averse to brandishing her brother’s name even in a chawl tap water argument. The bomb blasts push her into becoming the Aapa of Nagpada, mediating in local quarrels and solving disputes between builders, of course, by referring to her brother.

The film is structured as a court case in which the prosecuting lawyer Roshni Satam (Priyanka Setia) crosses swords with the defence lawyer Shyam Keswani (Rajesh Tailang), without having any witnesses or a shred of evidence to prove that Haseena was handed the reins of her brother’s criminal empire.

It is this lack of focus and constant fence-sitting that completely dooms the film. Shraddha Kapoor is fine as a young bride and mother, but cannot carry off the older, heavier Haseena with the awkward stuffing in her mouth to fill out her face. Finally, why was this film even made?  Haseena Parkar or her family certainly do not need a filmmaker in their corner, even one as obsequious as Apoorva Lakhia.

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