The Hindi film obsession with Dawood Ibrahim continues unabated. His associates, his family, his ‘D Company’, his role in the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993, have all been done to death, literally and metaphorically. Now it is the turn of his late sister, Haseena Parkar, to have an exclusive film made on her. Apparently, she ran some of the ‘D Company’ operations in Mumbai, after Dawood left the country, and so deserves the posthumous notoriety.
The whole movie is a series of courtroom scenes with Haseena Parkar in the dock, and a prosecutor for the State examining her for possible involvement in an extortion case. As she tells us her story, along with her perspective on the events she narrates, we have lengthy flashbacks of the then city of Bombay, and hear about the history of the Underworld that controlled it in the 1970s and 1980s. We see graphic scenes of how a series of Police encounters ended that rule of the Dons. The targeted State killings, it is said, left Dawood no option but to flee to Dubai.
The period re-creation of Haseena Parkar is passable, and the sets and the lighting sometimes have a ‘noir’ feel to it. The casting of the smaller parts is interesting too. But what does not work in the film is the struggle by the writer and director to resolve the central issue in the film, and their inability to give us credible answers for important questions. Was Haseena a victim of her family history, or did she assume the mantle of a Don by choice? By giving material and operational support for the Mumbai blasts from the safety of his foreign hide-out, did Dawood not deliberately put his beloved sister in the line of fire, and allow her to suffer from endless Police investigations, and condemn her to never ending court appearances? If so, did this attitude not indicate callousness towards a sister? Was the quality of Haseena’s life just collateral damage to Dawood?
Haseena (Shraddha Kapoor) puts up a brave front and never directly addresses the issue of whether having to become a ‘Godmother’ was a natural calling, or an evil thrust on her by her absconding brother. But the filmmaker lets Dawood (Siddhanth Kapoor) off the hook very easily. He does not show him in any dilemma, or suffering from a moral qualm. If anything, Haseena Parkar ends up, as so many Underworld films do, as a detailed chronicle of the destruction wrought to civil society by a criminal mastermind, at the same time as it turns into hagiography of the mind who inflicts the suffering.
Haseena Parkar is the least convincing and, dramatically, the weakest of Don movies in recent times.