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'Halkaa' Review: Nila Madhab Panda's weakest film till date that does great disservice to the city of Delhi

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Halkaa, Nila Madhab Panda

Halkaa is the latest Film directed by Padma Shri Awardee and National Award-winning filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda. The film stars Ranvir Shorey, Paoli Dam, and Kumud Mishra in the pivotal roles. Halkaa revolves around an eight year old boy named Pichku (played by Master Tathastu) who lives in the slums of Delhi. Unlike most adults living in the slums he isn’t comfortable with defecating in the open and wants proper access to a toilet. Halkaa is the maiden production of Shiv Nadar Foundation in association with Akshay Kumar Parija and Nila Madhab Panda. Supratik Roy is the film’s associate producer. 

Halkaa does a great disservice to Delhi by projecting it as not India's capital city but as a shantytown, a dirty underbelly plagued by abject poverty and deep-seated corruption, completely overlooking all the good work done by the Delhi government over the last three years or so. The end result is not unlike the highly condescending take of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire which was widely criticized for trying to depict India in a bad light. 

Panda's attempted realism makes Halkaa look like a film made in bad taste, perhaps to serve some ulterior motive rather than good and honest storytelling for which he is know for. Instead of being a work of cinematic art it comes as a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that's replete with product placements and propaganda. In fact, the film's plot is so wafer thin that one wonders if Panda and his team even had ample time to develop the script.

Halkaa's strongest point is it production design. Pichku's house is where the majority of the story unfolds and the detailed manner in which the production designer Boishali Sinha has arranged the various elements in the house actually adds immensely to the film's mise en scene. Interestingly, the house was built from scratch and a lot of props used for the house are actually from Boishali’s own childhood. Alas, weak story and direction end up undermining the good job done at the art direction level! A filmmaker of Panda's caliber who is known for making brilliant films like I Am KalamJalpari, and Kadvi Hawa has left me utterly disappointed this time around.  

Rating: 1.5/10

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!

Halkaa Trailer (YouTube)


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'Halkaa' Review: Nila Madhab Panda's weakest film till date that does great disservice to the city of Delhi

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