Shlok Sharma's Haraamkhor is the story of a teacher Shyam (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who has an illicit relationship with one of his students Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi). Shyam has two more students, Kamal (Irfan Khan) and Mintu (Mohammad Samad), who suspect that Shyam and Shweta are in a relationship. To complicate matters, Kamal is also in love with Sandhya. The story, thus, becomes a love triangle between the characters of different ages.
There is an early moment in the film when Mintu tells Kamal, "Aag ke liye pani ka santulan bane rehna chahiye." Fire must fear water. Mintu says this in the context where he wants to tell Shyam's wife that his husband is having an affair with his student. By doing this, it would instill a fear in Shyam to not see Sandhya anymore. Throughout the film, the characters fear, or are trying to hide something. Interestingly, there is a similar dialogue in Vishal Bharadwaj's Maqbool. At some point in the film, Inspector Pandit and Inspector Purohit say to their boss, "Shakti ka santulan bahut zaroori hai sansaar mein, aag ke liye paani ka darr bane rehna chahiye." It is important that there is a balance of power in the world; fire must fear water. It is a thought-provoking concept. Thus, in Haraamkhor, this darr manifests in different ways. There is a fear of societal judgement and punishment given the illicit nature of the relationship between Shyam and Sandhya because of their age difference. Even when they are able to get away from the society to indulge in their activities, there is the fear that Sandhya could become pregnant, another form of 'fire must fear water'. In an interview with the Indian Express, Shlok Sharma, actually, said that he was inspired from Maqbool. He says, "Originally, the story had only three key characters—Shyam, Sandhya and Kamal, who holds a candle for the older girl. But inspired by the characters of Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool—based on Macbeth’s witches—it was decided to tap into the camaraderie between two boys to add humour to the otherwise serious story. I have borrowed a few dialogues from the film too, as an ode to Maqbool."
Wind PowerIn addition to the Shakespearean Maqbool-Macbeth references that the director talked about, at some point in the film, there is another ode to the Bard. At some stage, Shyam is teaching the kids about Shakespeare. He says, "Shakespeare has said the god of love is blind; he sees from the heart not mind." This is a rephrasing of the line from Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." The change that will fit with Shyam is the that it is not love, but lust. He is a philanderer who flirts with everyone, like the time he flirted with a female colleague and invited himself to her home. Shlok Sharma has worked with Vishal Bharadwaj on Omkara as well. Perhaps, that is why the Shakespearean references, like Vishal who is inspired by Shakespeare a lot.
It is never clear in the film if the lack of fatherly attention was one of the reasons that drove Sandhya to have a relationship with an older man. Her father is having his own affair. He is often inebriated. In one of the film's scenes, Shyam is massaging Sandhya's head in front of the mirror. Sandhya chides him that he is not doing it the way her father does. At that point, Shyam is also wearing the cap of her father, which gives some sort of a feeling of an Electra complex in Sandhya.
The children in the film often talk about being mature. Mintu jokes with Kamal that he is not mature, and he is still a kid. The kids want to grow up faster. Sandhya has a relationship with a much older man. Kamal likes Sandhya who is much senior to him. He and Mintu have their own thoughts on what constitutes marriage. At an early point in the film, Sandhya's shoes are lost, and Kamal offers his shoes to her, but she refuses. A few moments later, Shyam offers his shoes to her, but by that time, she had found hers. During the climax, Kamal and Mintu steal Shyam's shirt, and they go to a field where Kamal wears it. When Kamal is caught by Shyam for stealing his shirt, he hits him, and runs naked to Sandhya, where she offers him her clothes. It is this that shows how the kids are behaving much older than their age, trying to fit in clothes and shoes much larger than their size.
Dialogue of the Day:
"Aag ke liye pani ka santulan bane rehna chahiye."