watched this last night on a friend’s recommendation. this is a low-profile bombay movie from a few years ago that is set mostly at a university in a smaller indian city (allahabad). there are no major stars in this but it is a wonderful little film. actually, it is like two films: the first half is a spot-on profile of the criminalized politics at pretty much any indian university, with a nicely observed and detailed love-story woven in; the second half becomes a little more formulaic but is still rousing stuff–the finale, which is set against the backdrop of the maha kumbh mela in allahabad (millions of people descend on the town for this festival that occurs every 12 years,) is not as exciting as the netflix dvd sleeve makes it out to be but is still very good. it is very well shot as well–very atmospheric (the credits sequence in particular is one of the best i’ve seen anywhere in years). and the performances are all amazing. as non-hindi speakers you guys will miss out on most of the nuances of dialect and accent (and how they further detail the characters) but i think you’ll like it very much anyway. this is more solidly in the bombay tradition than something like “company” but don’t let that stop you. now i need to find out more about this director.

one note, if you do decide to see it: in the subtitles you’ll see the two student-leaders constantly being referred to by their hangers-on as “boss”. the literal word being used is “bhai” or “(elder) brother” (as in the kitano film), and i don’t know why they didn’t use that.

4 thoughts on “haasil”

  1. What I liked most about ‘Haasil’ are the abrupt changes in genre. In the space of the first 10 minutes you go from taut thriller as an assassin roams the university, to elaborate musical number on sand dunes, to a fairly conventional college romance story, complete with disapproving dad and more conspiratorial mom. American movies rarely risk this, and when they do, it is so self-conscious that it rings false. Here the shifts in pacing, genre, tempo, etc. seem entirely natural. And the final scene really is pretty amazing. Irfan Kahan is especially good. The political rivalry depicted in ‘Haasil’ might not strike a chord in the context of American student politics, but it reminds me of “university left” politics in Britain in the early 1980s (minus the guns, of course).

  2. glad you liked it chris. irfan khan is also in another excellent film called “maqbool”–“macbeth” transplanted to the bombay underworld. not sure if netflix has it; i know they don’t have “charas”, the other film by the maker of “haasil”.

  3. Arnab, how significant is product placement in Indian movies? I was struck by the obviousness of the Pepsi logo, especially in the climax when the young lovers pause for a cold drink, but even things as jarring as a Pepsi blanket on a dorm bed. Presumably Pepsi is a guilty as Coke of emptying wells and lowering the water table in India — and then selling people bottled water! — so perhaps it is image enhancement.

  4. it is highly prevalent these days. sometimes far worse than others. corporation sometimes co-finance movies and get their products in in a huge way. i’m trying to remember the name of something i saw last year which actually had a dance scene in a courtyard strewn with banners for a washing machine or something. i didn’t notice it that much in haasil to tell the truth.

    in india movie superstars sell products on tv (unlike in america where it is a sign that your career is over). aamir khan plugs coke (some very creative ads), mega-star shahrukh khan and others plug pepsi (not as creative). shahrukh is a total whore about it (sort of like shaq)–mentions pepsi at every opportunity, drinks it during interviews at home and so on.

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