Directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, “Hurdang” treads on similar territory as “Haasil,” the 2003 debut directorial venture of Tigmanshu Dhulia. Though analogies could be drawn between the characters of both films, there is a stark difference when it comes to characterization and basic execution. The film is set in the year 1990, when the V.P Singh government had made up its mind to implement the report put forth by the Mandal Commission, approximately a decade back, which talked about giving reservations to socially backward classes. There were widespread protests held all over India. Allahabad, as a city, has always had a political consciousness of its own. It is the city of intellectuals, academicians, and activists. The Allahabad University Student Council, though it has been infamously known for all the nuisance that it has caused in recent years, with little to no agenda, once used to be the epicenter of politics in northern India, which gave this country many great leaders. “Hurdang” is a story of a student leader studying at Allahabad University, who gets entangled in the swamp of politics, and eventually gets to know that there is no way out of it.
It becomes very important in a film like this that the whole cast and crew understand the landscape and the dynamics of the world their film is set in, and be aligned to the thought process of the director. Stereotypical slang, gimmicky situations, and caricaturish portrayals can often tamper with the real essence of the film. We have a habit of associating a region with specific attributes, no matter how superficial they might be. So let’s see if “Hurdang” stays on the surface and falls into the trap of generalization, or if it is able to understand the nitty-gritties of the culture and bring out a truly authentic flavor.
‘Hurdang’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Daddu Thakur, at times, felt overwhelmed by the association he shared with the student leader, Loha Singh. Everybody around him knew that he was being used by Loha for his political benefits, but Daddu believed in him. Loha, on the other hand, knew that Daddu could be really useful for him and his political endeavors, and that is why he was more than cordial with him. Daddu was always at loggerheads with Gopal, Loha’s younger brother. Gopal was not as foresighted as his elder brother. He didn’t understand why his brother always took Daddu’s side. It frustrated him, but he couldn’t do anything about it. Loha wanted to get the contract to make a new hostel for the students of Allahabad University, not because he wanted better facilities for them, but because it would give him an opportunity to earn black money through the funds that were allocated for the purpose. Loha wanted to gang up against the Vice-Chancellor and coerce him to sign the contract, and for that, he needed all the students to show up together. Daddu brings each and every student from the hostel, and together they successfully negotiate the deal.
Daddu’s love interest, Jhullan, came from a conservative background. Her father had started looking for a probable match for her daughter. He wanted her to get married to a bureaucrat, preferably an IAS officer. She had been pestering Daddu to either crack the exam and become an IAS officer, or elope with her, as her father wouldn’t agree to anything less than that. Jhulan always saw through the intentions of Loha and warned Daddu against it. Jhulan was blunt when it came to speaking her heart out, and she did that without any sort of hesitation. She told Daddu that Loha was just fueling his political ambitions through him. Loha had promised Daddu that he would leak the examination paper and help Daddu become an IAS officer. Daddu was banking on that as he knew that otherwise, it wasn’t possible for him to crack the exams.
Jhullan’s father got to know about her affair with Daddu. He lost his temper and decided to immediately leave for Varanasi, where he had found an eligible bachelor, and get Jhulan married straight away. Jhulan was not able to inform Daddu about anything, as he was busy organizing a protest at the Chief Minister’s residence. Loha enjoyed the support of the minister, Tripathi, head of the Janshakti party. The minister asked him to stop meddling in petty affairs and look at the bigger picture. He told him that the Mandal Commission bill was going to be passed in parliament. It brought with it an opportunity. An opportunity to stir things up at the ground level and become the biggest student leader of Allahabad University and eventually pave the way for an illustrious political career. Loha knew exactly what he had to do.
‘Hurdang’ Ending Explained: What Was Loha’s Ultimate Plan? Is Loha Able To Kill Daddu?
Loha Singh’s plan was very clear. He didn’t care about giving the students an equal pedestal, but saw this as an opportunity to make his dream of becoming an MLA a reality. He got the desired support from the students, as together with Daddu, now even Ranjan was on their side. Ranjan was the ex-roommate of Daddu Thakur, the one who understood and cared for him. Ranjan had made it very clear that he would join the movement only when Daddu would promise to stop all his violent activities and fight on logic rather than irrational agendas. Ranjan supported reservation based on economic status. He wanted to uplift the downtrodden without hurting anybody. With Ranjan coming on their side, more students joined the protest. Meanwhile, Jhullan’s father had kept her under strict watch, and it was impossible for her to reach out for help. Jhullan’s brother contacted one of Loha Singh’s men and told him to inform Daddu about the ongoing situation. But Loha asked his man to not tell Daddu anything. He feared that if Daddu knew about it, he would leave everything and go after Jhulan.
Due to the protests, the Prime Minister had decided to meet a delegation of 50 students and listen to what they had to say. Loha told Daddu that he wanted him to be a part of that delegation from Allahabad. But in reality, Loha had some other plans. He wanted to backstab Daddu at any given opportunity and instead send his brother, Gopal, to the delegation. Daddu got to know about Jhullan’s whereabouts and decided to go and get her back. Jhulan had just gotten married that day itself, but she decided to elope with Daddu. They both came back to Loha’s residence, as Daddu felt that was the only safe place he could hide Jhulan. Jhulan said that she didn’t want to stay there as she despised Loha and didn’t trust his intentions one bit. Loha saw this as an opportunity. Jhulan belonged to a socially backward caste, and he wanted to use it to gain leverage. He asked Gopal to tell minister Tripathi that Daddu could not be a part of a delegation as he himself was getting married to a girl who belonged to a socially backward class. Then Loha came with Daddu and opposed his own brother in front of the minister. Gopal was agitated and didn’t understand why he was insulted by Loha, when he had only asked him to do the needful. Loha told him that he wanted Daddu to believe that he was on his side, and then strike him when he least expected it. Loha had told Daddu that he would send him and Jhulan to Agra after one last protest. But secretly, he had devised a plan to kill Daddu during that protest and gain sympathy votes in his favor, and ultimately win the elections. He had given orders to kill Jhulan too, who was supposed to meet Daddu on the highway post protest. The protest started, and Loha’s men reached to pick up Jhulan. She saw them making wrong turns and suspected that they were up to something. Loha’s men finally stopped the car and decided to shoot Jhulan when she somehow overpowered them and managed to escape the scene.
Daddu was busy leading the crowd when Ranjan realized that Gopal was preparing to kill him. He threw a barrel of flammable liquid at Daddu, but Ranjan came in between. In front of Daddu’s eyes, Ranjan, his best friend, was put on fire and eventually met his fateful end. Ranjan had always warned Daddu about the association he shared with Loha, but little did he know that he would have to pay the price for it. Daddu was reunited with Jhulan, and that’s when he got to know about the real motives of Loha Singh. A guilt-ridden Daddu went to Loha’s residence straightaway and killed both Loha and his younger brother Gopal. Daddu woke up in the hospital, he found Jhulan sitting next to him. She told him to not waste the sacrifice made by Ranjan and lead the students in the delegation. Daddu did go to Delhi and stood for everything that Ranjan believed in strongly.
“Hurdang” has its moments, but it is never enough to make an impact. One never feels invested in the characters or in their journey. The film tries to put in humor and quirkiness, but most of the time, it looks forced and awkward. The screenplay also lacked those powerful moments and punchy dialogues that played a crucial role in making the 2003 film, “Haasil” achieve a cult status over the years. The action sequences also exposed a soft spot, and the editing had to invariably make up for it. The actors put up a decent show, with Vijay Verma’s magnetic presence steering the ship ahead. The strong background score provided a much-needed flair, but the makers were not able to capitalize on it properly. “Hurdang” misses the mark due to a lack of inventiveness and detailing, and does not optimally use the powerful backdrop of one of the most important socio-political revolutions in our country.
“Hurdang” is a 2022 Drama Romance film directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat.