There’s a sense of explosiveness that boils up beneath all that’s going on in Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor. Like every little secret love affair, Haraamkhor lies right on the boundary of moral transgression and universal hate. However, Shlok Sharma’s incredible sense of covering the boundaries whilst questioning love, loneliness, and vulnerability evokes subtle greatness that his little film boldly puts on its shoulder like a cape made of wretched cloth pieces.
The central idea of Haraamkhor is readily controversial. A 15-year-old girl falling head over heals in love with his 35-year-old Mathematics teacher doesn’t really pave way for a story that the audience wouldn’t question at every other step. Hence, Shlok takes a bold step by showing us the progression of his film through the eye of two overzealous teenage boys – one of whom has developed a crush on the girl and wishes to woo her at any cost.
The gritty realism and dark humor in Shlok’s film is quite reminiscent to that of Anurag Kashyap’s films. Having worked as an Assistant director for both Kashyap and Vishal Bharadwaj, Shlok has a great understanding of his low-key characters. Even a kid who is seen wearing a Shaktiman costume all the time provides a sense of environment to the film. His costume stinks (as he wears it all the time) but his mind is fresh, states the teacher.
In Haraamkhor, Shlok Sharma counter-argues the way an adult and a child perceives things, often blurring the lines between both their respect selves. His central character of Shyam (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is abusive, manipulative and wry. If put into wrong hands, he could have come out as a complete monster. He is a teacher who is also somewhere down concerned about his students (we see him discussing a question as he eats lunch) and at the same time toys with the emotions of one of his students for his own sexual thirst. Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi) is an innocent girl who falls for the wrong guy in spite of seeing all that is wrong with him (him marrying an ex-student and flirting with a parent, to name a few) and also acts the actual caretaker when his drunken father comes back home. The other young kids in the film, namely Kamal (Irfan Khan) & Mintu (Mohd Samad) comment on his teacher having a mistress (their understanding about these things is oblivious) and at the same time they believe that two people are supposed to get married if they see each other naked.
Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor is a little film with little ambitions. It doesn’t wish to tell you something that you will keep intact in your senses as you drive home. But it wants you to listen to a story that’s being told with great conviction. Sharma has an incentive eye for details. He captures childhood and adolescence with incredible details. The broken bones, the heart-aches, the sexual liberation, the frustration, the playfulness and the grimness of it all have been beautifully presented in this little tale. As the film came to a shuddering end, I wanted to tightly hug it and push it away at the same time. Take a bow, Mr. Sharma, take a bow!