Hamare Baarah Review: Meanders A Dozen Times

Uniform Civil Code, Religious Reform or The Population Control Bill? What do the makers of Hamare Baarah want to showcase through their cinematic lense?

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

Meanders A Dozen Times

Hamare Baarah Cast/Actors: Annu Kapoor as Mansoor Ali Sanjari, Manoj Joshi as Zafar Memon, Aditi Bhatpahri as Alfia, Ashwini Kalsekar as Afreen Liyakat, Paritosh Tripathi as Shahnawaz, Rahul Bagga as Shoaib, Shagun Mishra as Zoya & Parth Samthaan as Danesh.

Hamare Baarah Movie Director: Kamal Chandra

Hamare Baarah Movie Release Date: June 21, 2024

Hamare Baarah Movie Available On: Theatrical Release

Hamare Baarah Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi

Hamare Baarah Movie Runtime: 148 Minutes

Hamare Baarah Movie Critic Review:

The much-needed Population Control Bill.

Religious rigidity that won’t move with times tramples over gender rights, women’s health, children’s future and the feelings of family members, leading to tragedy.

Director Kamal Chandra, creative director Ajay Ajendra and writer Rajan Agarwal tackles the two important social issues head on, pulling no punches.

Outside a Lucknow court, a burqa-wearing Alfia (Aditi Bhatpahri) is looking for a lawyer who’ll fight her unique case.

White-saree wearing Afreen (Ashwini Kalsekar) is just the firebrand she needs.

Alfia’s tyrannically rigid father Mansoor Ali Sanjari (Annu Kapoor), much respected as Khan Saheb, is in his element on stage, his lungs and throat bursting with song, son Shahnawaz (Paritosh Tripathi) by his side. His other son Shoaib (Rahul Bagga) is on a collision path with Khan Saheb. Denied a formal education, forced to study in a madrassa, ill-equipped for life beyond driving a rickshaw, Shoaib will not play the harmonium and join his dad’s bandwagon.

A census survey can’t get over the large, sprawling family of Sanjaris. 11 children of all sizes and “Allah willing, we’ll be a dozen,” says an unashamed Khan Saheb.

The cracks begin to show.

There’s shairi (Urdu poetry) shared over a family meal but Khan Saheb wants his Begum Rukhsar (Ankita Dwivedi) to shut up. It’s the prerogative of the mento air their opinions. As a later dialogue states, “Abbu (father) and then shauhar (husband) take faisle (decisions) for us all our lives.”

Daughter Zoya (Shagun Mishra) is a naturally gifted poet. But she has to hide under the penname Shabnam for her father to sing her lyrics, oblivious that it’s his daughter who’s written what he praises.

Two stark scenes show the depths of depravity Khan Saheb’s rigidity has sunk to.

When his young wife enters the bedroom at his bidding, he silently gestures. Shut the door, uncover your head, let your hair loose, come close. You can feel Rukhsar’s despair, her frail pleas of being unwell falling on deaf ears. Allah willing, Baby No 12 will be made.

At a neighbourhood store, he boasts about his prowess to much admiration from buddies and also cautions the shopkeeper against giving too much freedom to his daughters.  

At home, he’s unaware that a familiar scene is unfolding. From Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar to Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani…, the hidden ambition of oppressed ladies of the house is to burst into song on a public platform. Daughter Zareen (Aditi Dhiman) yearns to participate in a reality show and wows the judges in the preliminary round, only to have a red-angry Khan Saheb stop her and drag her home.

There is scope in such a story for some good music and Annu Kapoor, doubling up as composer, comes up with a melodious “Gori ki maathe tilak biraaje”.

But what’s happening in the name of strict adherence to religion is far from melodious.

It slowly unspools that Shahnawaz’s wife has left him, taking their daughter with her. Having to take birth control pills on the sly and resisting the madrassa for her daughter were a couple of the more serious issues over which his wife had walked out of the claustrophobic haveli.

Rukhsar, pregnant again, faints. Khan Saheb is delighted. Allah’s blessings are again on their way. He won’t allow an abortion.

It transpires that Alfia has gone to court to seek for her mother to abort the foetus, the doctor having warned them of dire, tragic consequences if she goes ahead with the pregnancy.

In a convoluted narration that’s often confusing as flashbacks also play a part, it emerges that the rigidly traditional musician had callously lost his first wife to multiple pregnancies, had happily moved on to younger, prettier bride Rukhsar and continued with his bedroom tyranny.

There is a parallel track between lawyer Afreen and her husband where gender and career play prominent parts, Ashwini acquitting herself wonderfully in a showdown with her spouse. Only wonder why this fine actress had her eyebrows thickened unbecomingly to play Afreen.

The makers play it safe by pitting Muslims against Muslims, progressive thinking against the radical, gender parity brimming in every corner. Before the judge too, it’s Afreen vs Zafar Memon (Manoj Joshi) with mazhab ko badnaam (slandering the religion), mazhab invariably debating only a woman’s rights and stigmatising the woman, dramatically overplayed in the courtroom.

Unfortunately, such important social issues which required to be spotlighted get lost with director Kamal Chandra’s zig-zag narration, trying to pack in too many tracks (a half-hearted romantic one too for Alfia), hamming of another level (sometimes by Annu, at all times by Rahul Bagga and family) and curious legalese. The wife who should be the one asking for the right to abort her baby breaks down terrified and stands by her shauhar while it’s her daughter (step-daughter, as it turns out, as she’s from the first wife who died) that’s gone to court for it.

There are also inaccuracies like Khan Saheb claiming the khandaani property is his alone because his father had willed it to him. But the fact is, the Muslim Personal Law overrides any will especially when it comes to ancestral property.

“Why be formal when we can be normal?” asks TV anchor Danesh (Parth Samthaan) who’s interested in Alfia.

That brand of frivolity falls flat in the midst ofa serious social discussion.

But the discussion itself is derailed by high melodrama and lengthy meanderings. After threats of talaq and “abortion is going against Allah’s will”, there’s a silent dialogue in the hospital where Rukhsar obediently follows her husband home. At no time is there an explanation to what Khan Sahab’s silent monologue was about.

Is this kind of cinema offensive to the Muslim community, as the courts had debated? No, it’s Muslims themselves questioning the radicalism that’s stifling some of them.

But what could’ve been important cinema on pressing social issues fizzles into an overlong, multi-confused narration. “Allah pe bharosa rakhko”, perhaps there may be an audience that nods in appreciation.

Hamare Baraah – Watch it or not?: Since it’s cinematically weary, debate the same over the dining table. 

Hamare Baraah Movie Review Score Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (i.e. 2.5/5)

Humare Baraah Movie Official Trailer:

Hamare Baarah Official Trailer Credits: Radhika G Films & Newtech Media Entertainment

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Meanders A Dozen TimesHamare Baarah Review: Meanders A Dozen Times