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Haemolymph Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : 3.5 / 5

Haemolymph Movie Review : A sincere effort at portraying a sensitive true incident

Story: Based on Abdul Wahid Shaikh, one of the accused of the 7/11 Mumbai serial train blast case, the movie traces his nine-year-long incarceration on false charges, acquittal and everything that happens in the due course.

Review: One may expect blood-curdling and tragic scenes from a movie that deals with the 7/11 Mumbai serial train blasts of 2006. But Haemolymph does none of that. It starts with school teacher Wahid Shaikh’s family life in a shanty, and quickly moves on to the beginning of a nightmare as he is picked up by the ATS, accused of being a part of the explosions and tortured to confess. And the film sticks to this narrative throughout.

Wahid is alleged to have sheltered four Pakistanis at his Mumbra house, and he is time and again pressured to confess. He is not the only one. There are many like him, including some who cave in. But Wahid does not, and after being questioned, beaten up and threatened on various occasions is finally taken into judicial custody along with 12 other men. They find their way around prison life and fight for justice with the help of Advocate Shahid Azmi (whose life Hansal Mehta’s Shahid was based on). As Wahid waits for his hearing and the verdict, he completes his journalism course and studies law in prison, helping some others wrongfully charged find justice. In reality, too, he continues to so and authored the book Begunah Qaidi during his time in Mumbai’s Arthur Rd Jail.

The film has been handled responsibly, and is a sincere effort in recreating the events, without the tropes of sensationalism or chest-thumping dialogues. In fact, it’s replete with matter-of-fact nuances. Wahid tells his wife that he is happy to be in judicial custody because it will at least save him from the torture by ATS officers. The film also subtly touches upon the lives of victims of the blast. As a Hindu man fights for his life in the hospital, his wife (who’s given no dialogues) expresses her anguish while watching news. Making rounds of the police station for interrogation becomes such a routine for Wahid that leaves home as if going to casually meet someone. Subtly, it establishes how a certain section of society is treated like criminals. Piling up cases of incarceration are shown through a constable stacking up files that slowly make the police officers sitting at the table vanish (buried under) behind the piles.

The story has also delved into what such events can do to the family members. While Wahid’s youngest brother becomes paranoid for a while time, his own daughter makes a drawing of him behind bars. While the gory scenes of the blasts itself are skipped, the film makes up for it with the torture scenes—full-back bared and thrashed, and other methods that seem distressingly real, apart from all the expletives hurled at Wahid.

A nice touch is not showing Wahid’s wife Sajida Shaikh’s (Ruchira Jadhav) face even once as she’s a niqabi in real life. The actress is shown in a veil all along or through over-the-shoulder shots or back towards the camera. One can feel her emotions through her eyes and voice.

There are no big names in the star cast, which makes the fare more realistic. Riyaz Anwar as Wahid is relatable and does a fabulous job, as do all the supporting actors such as Rohit Kokate, who plays his middle brother, Javed Shaikh. Debutant director Sudarshan Gamare, also the screenplay writer, shows good command in both the departments — though the second half could have been shorter.

Haemolymph is a hard-hitting tale that sticks to its real purpose of narrating the story of Abdul Wahid Shaikh. The movie is not for the weak-hearted. If stories based on real-life incidents appeals to you, give this one a watch, and you will come back with a heavy heart.

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