Revisiting Haasil: The First Tigmanshu Dhulia Film That Put Irrfan Khan On The Map
When Haasil came out in 2003, it wasn’t the movie that followed the traditional Bollywood route of telling the tale of cursed lovers. Of course, there was a love story and a villain whose sole purpose was to create a wedge between hero and heroine, but the road it took to tell this classic boy-boy love story and girls was rather unconventional. Haasil is director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s first film, and also his first collaboration with Irrfan Khan, whom he will also direct in Paan Singh Tomar and Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster.
In 2003, Bollywood still followed its traditional rules with films like Kal Ho Naa Ho and Chalte Chalte but there were sparks of experimentation starting to create a buzz among audiences. Gangaajal, Darna Mana Hai, Jhankaar Beats, Pinjar created a niche for themselves at the time and are still remembered. And films like Munnabhai MBBS and Koi Mil Gaya, which were one of a kind, racked up huge success and delivered at the box office. Amidst this variety of films, Haasil stood out with his impressive performances as Irrfan Khan and Ashutosh Rana, and his portrayal of student politics in the interiors of Uttar Pradesh.
Haasil follows two opposing groups of student leaders, played by Ashutosh and Irrfan, who speak with their guns and aim to lead the student body with violence and politics. When Jimmy Sheirgill’s Anni meets Rannvijay d’Irrfan, he considers him to be her older brother but doesn’t realize that the complicit student leader has other intentions.
Haasil’s first half was his strength. It completely changed the way we saw student politics in cinema and tried to bring out the caste culture that is deeply rooted in India. It’s also worth noting that 18 years later, the Dhulia Tandav star also leans heavily on the same theme as Haasil, albeit from a different era.
Rannvijay d’Irrfan detonates homemade bombs early on, but it isn’t until the second half that you start to see him as the bad guy. Jimmy’s doe-eyed Anni is completely enchanted with the power that Rannvijay wields over every part of this town and it completely overwhelms him. Rannvijay, meanwhile, is the wolf who takes advantage of these lambs to be able to ride on their shoulders and create his empire. But it all ends when they both fall in love with the same woman, Niharika, played by Hrishita Bhatt.
Haasil was one of the first films to be widely acclaimed by Irrfan. It even earned him a Filmfare Award back then, back when those awards still meant something. On the film’s 18th anniversary in May 2021, Dhulia took to Twitter and recalled that while editing the film’s climax, Irrfan came in and said Rannvijay would be as memorable as Gabbar Singh. He added: “Well the villain was different from Gabbar but yeah, Irfan will always be remembered.”
Haasil’s plot may seem outdated today, but it’s the performances here that keep the film timeless.
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