What is the story about?
An ambitious small-town boy, popular chess player Hari lands in Hyderabad with the hope of making it big in life. While he takes up a stop-gap role as a chess coach at a summer camp, he meets a socialite Aakash and they soon become thick buddies. Hari grows closer to Aakash’s family, particularly his cousin Vasudha and sparks fly, good enough for them to fall in love. Aakash, meanwhile, is in a relationship with a model, actress Jasmine who’s yet to make it big in the film industry. Even as Hari is cementing his bond with Vasudha, he lusts after Jasmine, despite knowing that she and his friend are a couple. While Jasmine and Aakash part ways after a misunderstanding, Hari marries Vasudha. Does Hari still have the hots for Jasmine?
Dirty Hari, the erotic thriller that hit streaming platforms earlier this week, has been in the news for its raunchy content but it turns out that there is some merit in the film too beyond the skin show. Dirty Hari is told through the eyes of a shrewd, flawed protagonist who knows to play his cards well. He knows where to be the gold digger, be the loyal husband and transition into a romantic with his mistress – it’s a relief to see a Telugu film where the lead protagonist embraces his flaws openly and doesn’t pretend to be an ambassador of idealism.
The film doesn’t glorify infidelity; it just suggests humans are sexual beings at the end of the day and that some relationships go beyond societal norms/definitions, though they have their own perils. The screenplay is razor-sharp, running a little longer than a 100 minutes and one that sticks to the core of the plot without unnecessary distractions. No doubt, the male gaze is problematic; it is made with an idea to titillate and the idea of tapping into the carnal desires of the audience feels manipulative. Yet, a major relief with Dirty Hari is its unabashed treatment – there’s no pretension about the path that the filmmaker M S Raju takes. He sticks to the tried and tested template of most erotica thrillers and still delivers.
The tension in the film is its lifeline. Hari, while enjoying his time with Jasmine initially, is consumed by guilt having to choose between lust and marriage later. It’s apparent that the relationship between Hari and Jasmine is fraught with danger, but there’s an arresting quality to the narration despite the predictability of the genre. The lovemaking sequences are rather raw and indulgent – though you realise that the director M S Raju is giving what he had promised in the film’s promotional material. The subtle twist in the ending gives a fillip to the proceedings.
Some of the backstories could have been built better – there’s no mention of Hari’s past, his parents are nowhere to be seen and most of his equations with the characters develop rather quickly; it’s all too cinematically convenient. The fact that Hari is a chess player, with an interest in classical traditions is of little consequence in the plot beyond a point. Some of the supporting characters lack purpose. The police investigation sequences lack spunk; in all probability, the director was trying to wrap up the film in a hurry. Despite its limitations, it needs to be told that Dirty Hari can prove to be a surprise provided you watch it with an open mind.
Television actor and Thinkistan-fame Shravan Reddy’s Telugu debut is promising. As a man torn between ambition and lust, he does justice to a complex role with no sense of morality. Ruhani Sharma plays the loyal wife to perfection, though the character lacks meat. Simrat Kaur hurries through her part sans purpose and doesn’t make the effort to give it an identity beyond her flesh. Drishyam actor Roshan Basheer fits into the part of a happy-go-lucky socialite quite smoothly. Surekha Vani, Appaji Ambarisha and Shatamanam Bhavati-fame Mahesh come up with good supporting acts despite the poorly written roles.
Music & Other Departments
Mark K Robin’s music doesn’t stay with you long after the film ends, but it serves the purpose of the narrative as long as it lasts. M N Balreddy, the cinematographer makes the lovemaking sequences feel almost animalistic –titillation precedes over filmmaking aesthetics many a time. Despite the predictability in the storyline, the film manages to pique your curiosity consistently. The writing remains strictly okay.
Shravan Reddy’s performance
Raunchiness overtakes its purpose often
Did I enjoy it?
In parts, yes, but it certainly surprised me
Do I recommend it?
Only for erotic-thriller enthusiasts