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Revisiting Akbar Khan's medley of errors Haadsaa – Anniversary special

On the film's 35th anniversary today, we revisit the film and take a look at some of its prominent characters.

Anita Paikat

Today, 30 September, marks the 35th anniversary of the release of actor-filmmakers Feroz and Sanjay Khan's younger brother Akbar Khan's directorial debut Haadsaa (1983).

The film surprisingly starred critically acclaimed artistes of the time, like Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Amrish Puri and the veteran Ashok Kumar.

While the occasion warrants a tete-a-tete with those involved in the making of the film, we decided to spare them the embarrassment. It would not be easy to talk about a film that jumps from one subplot to another faster than a hunted grasshopper.

So, for the greater good, we revisit the film and take a look at its prominent characters. But first, a run through the film's plot.

Haadsaa starts with psychiatrist Dr Ved Kapoor questioning industrialist RK Chakravarty why he does not make love to his quasi-crazy wife Asha, played by Smita Patil. Even as Chakravarty yells, "Main namard hoon [I am impotent], doctor!" in reply, the scene shifts to the real mard, or male, of the film, Jaikumar Sharma aka Jai, played by Akbar Khan.

He dances on the streets of Mumbai and walks on the edges of anything tall — buildings or hoardings. While Jai is a very talented 'edge-walker', he is also a gifted car mechanic and works at a garage where Asha gets her car repaired.

One fine day, he visits Asha's house to deliver her car, not knowing this encounter will change his life forever. Asha, a woman living in her past, sees her childhood love 'Guddu' in him and is determined to have him, by hook or by crook.

The next time Jai comes home, she emerges wearing just a bright yellow towel. The mard in Jai is awakened. While, the encounter is nothing more than a one-night 'sin' for the noble Jai, Asha believes they are now bound in love. However, things take an untoward turn when Jai falls in love with Ruby (Ranjeeta).

From here on, the plot takes quite a few torturous turns as new characters enter, making the film a wafer-thin thriller. By the end, Jai defeats a slew of characters — Asha, Dr Kapoor, and a gangster — to unite with his love.

Dr Ved Kapoor
This psychiatrist, played by none other than Ashok Kumar, is quite a questionable character himself. He interrogates Mr Chakravarty in a way that a kid breaks his toy — brutally and unnecessarily. He is also unaware of any doctor-patient confidentiality clause and discusses his patients with others like he is narrating a parable.

Strangely, he also tries to coerce Jai into feigning love with Asha for the sake of her 'sanity', all this when he knows she has been mentally unstable since childhood!

Mr Chakravarty
The Mogambo of Hindi cinema, Amrish Puri, not only plays an impotent industrialist in this film, but his character also lacks the ability to think straight. Chakravarty is a rich man whose greatest passion in life is collecting anything that is beautiful, even if it can cause him physical harm. Now, one of his valuable 'showpieces' is his wife. He can give her everything except carnal pleasure and he is not only thrashed by the woman for this, but also held responsible for her misery. The poor man is made to look evil, though he is actually not.

Jaikumar Sharma aka Jai
Akbar Khan's Jai is not only Hindi cinema's version of Philippe Petit, but also a predecessor of Jason Statham. The high-wire artist-cum-car mechanic is also a master of speedboats. However, the more interesting point is that he does all the wrong things and redeems himself with a bit of swag and a lot of puppy-face expressions. He stalks Ruby, commits a murder in a fit of rage, and escapes from jail. While the film ends with him being released from prison, how we wish he had stayed there a lot longer.

Asha Chakravorty
There can be no other explanation for the supremely talented Smita Patil signing this film but that she needed the money. Also, this character must have demanded a lot less homework as it was almost an extension of her character from Arth, which was released the previous year (1982). All she had to do was open her eyes wider while staring in space.

The pitiful fact here is that Asha's need for sex and companionship are looked upon as a result for her craziness. She desires because she is unstable. Now, this is a character that Sigmund Freud would have loved and approved of.

Naseeruddin Shah brings in the surprise element in the film. At first glance, he looks like a villain picked out of a Bond movie. However, he turns out to be a Bhojpuri-speaking goon dressed in pristine white three-piece suits. Talented actor that he is, Shah manages to entertain even while playing this character.

Ranjeeta's Ruby appears to be the most sane character, and hence has little to do in the film. She is the naive, loyal, innocent baby-doll Jai loves and Asha abhors.