Haseen Dillruba: true love is a little murder-y

One thing I will say about this one…it keeps you guessing.

Haseen Dillruba is a movie about a terrible marriage, but it is also about love and lust and what happens when two people with very unstable mental health refuse to have simple conversations with one another.

The movie opens with the death of the male lead, Rishabh (Vikrant Massey), in a gas explosion. His wife Rani (Taapsee Pannu) immediately falls under suspicion. Her vicious interrogations with the police serve as the framing element for the story of this ill-fated marriage.

In the first third or so, Haseen Dillruba is a cute but cautionary tale about projecting your own desires and assumptions on to a partner. An alternative title for this portion could have been, “Disappointment.” Neither of these people are bad, nor are they perfect. She’s a little stuck up and he’s a little naive. They want intimacy but put forward no effort to cultivate it. They speak past each other and run from their problems.

It’s not that Rishabh and Rani were not in love enough to get married. It’s more that they were not mature enough. She’s a worldly Delhi girl and he’s got an engineering career with a lot of responsibility, but these two exhibit all the emotional intelligence of a pair of chickens. The movie knows this and that is why I thought this movie was a cautionary tale wrapped in a murder mystery. That is, until the murder became the act of love.

The performances in Haseen Dillruba were great. Rishabh’s parents stole their scenes, particularly his mother (Yamini Das). The whodunit mystery component held its secrets to the very end. I also liked that it takes place post-wedding. These people are falling in love, yes, but they are also already wed for life. This makes the love triangle of the second act that much more illicit.

People get married for the wrong reasons all the time, particularly when pressured to do so. In the most beautiful iterations of this story, they learn that love is about selflessness, kindness, and shared values. In this film, it is about obsession and shared toxicity. I am not sure how much more I can say without getting into spoilers, but I will say that my biggest qualm with this story was not its violence but the idea that people self-immolating themselves and others was somehow heroic.

If you, like Rani, enjoy pulpy murder mysteries (and don’t get too caught up in logic) you should definitely give this twisted romance a watch.

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