Watching Haddi after a meal is not advised since some scenes could induce nausea, warns Deepa Gahlot.
A few minutes into Haddi, there are enough indications of what to expect -- a lot of casual violence and a bleak, amoral universe that a few film-makers believe is a measure of their boldness.
Haddi, directed by Akshat Ajay Sharma, tests the boundaries of how much an audience is willing to accept in their already desensitised state. Since there is no censorship on OTT, restraint can be chucked into the bin.
Just why the lead character, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is called Haddi (bone) has a reason so bizarre and grotesque that had those scenes been placed earlier in the film, a large section of viewers might have switched channels.
Haddi is a transgender, who has the strange profession of body-snatching, and when he is almost caught in his native Allahabad, he escapes to Delhi.
He (using the male pronoun since he is dressed in man's outfits) joins the gang of a eunuch named Inder (Saurabh Sachdev), who runs a prostitution ring with men in drag and other rackets under the protection of politician Pramod Ahlawat (Anurag Kashyap).
Haddi proves to be fearless and obedient.
The script (written by Sharma and Adamya Bhalla) veers into Haddi's past, the child abuse, a love story with Irfan (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), which has not been given adequate attention, his castration and initiation into the hijra gharana of Revati Amma (Ila Arun).
This portion of the film sees the hidden side of the hijra community with sympathy.
Why eunuchs evoke fear in people is given a context -- Lord Ram had given eunuchs devoted to him a boon, that both their blessings and curses would always be effective.
Revati's mansion is on the radar of land-grabbing Ahlawat and he orders a carnage that takes place with the soundtrack going Shooter Saiyan Goli Chalayen Hain Dhayen Dhayen, which is the height of insensitivity.
What could have been a powerful sequence is reduced to cartoon bloodshed, more so with Ahlawat putting on headphones, swaying to the music and 'conducting' his men.
There are mass murders, public shootouts and brazen murders, with the police force of Delhi sleeping through it all, except for one corrupt cop who knows of Ahlawat's unsavoury business.
A character may fall down dead with one tap and Haddi survives multiple bullet wounds because he believes he cannot die after a botched lynching in his/her adolescence. In a film that takes the grim and realistic route, such fanciful shortcuts are ridiculous.
Making Haddi a hijra is just a gimmick because it is a revenge plot and the character could very well have been a man or a woman.
Unlike the recent Taali, this film does not even get on a soap box to demand justice for transgenders.
Nawaz was obviously attracted to the role because it gives him a chance to wear women's clothing and portray a soft, romantic side in the scenes with Irfan but expecting the viewer to believe that the over-made up man is a sexy, desirable woman is a stretch.
Anurag Kashyap brings a nonchalant menace to the role because he does not try to act.
There is a randomness to the film, a throw everything into the cauldron and see what cooks attitude that dilutes everything in the end.
Haddi avoids the vulgarity that has tainted better OTT projects, but lets the violence run amok.
Watching the film after a meal is not advised, since some scenes of Haddi's workplace could induce nausea.
Haddi streams on ZEE5.