Amole Gupte’s Hawaa Hawaai is a small film with a big heart and a giant spirit. This is Amole’s hat trick after Taare Zameen Par and Stanley Ka Dabba and like his previous films, here too, Amole asks some uncomfortable questions — this time about social equality and aspirations. Hawaa Hawaai is not a perfect film but it has perfect moments of blistering honesty, which hit hard at your heartstrings.
In mainstream Bollywood, Amole is perhaps the only filmmaker who makes films about children but he doesn’t make them only for children. Adults will learn quite a lot if they watch this film, by the way. I was reminded of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Bawarchi philosophy of “It is so simple to be happy but it is so difficult to be simple” while watching Hawaa Hawaai. The film deals with big issues but Amole’s telling is so simple, unadulterated and non-hurried that it never becomes a ‘heavy message film’. On many counts it’s a heartbreaking film but at the same time it is heartwarming and uplifting. The detailing is brilliant, each character is so well-defined and the little touches in simple scenes are very well sliced together by editor Deepa Bhatia.
Amole gives the film a flourish of a sports movie by making his lead character Arjun, aspire to learn how to roller skate. Arjun wants to fly (à la Krrish) on his wheels even though the reality of his life keeps bringing him back to earth, but as all of us hopeless dreamers know, nothing is impossible when the voice in your head tells you that you are born for this. In order to learn skating, Arjun becomes “Ek laava” and goes in search of his teacher. On the way he finds a gang of friends and together they become a toli of paanch paandav who make Arjun’s dream as their own even if it means they have to let go off their own aspirations. “Ek time pe ek sapna,” is how Arjun’s street-smart friend Gochi puts it.
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The children gang is fantastic. Partho plays Arjun with an earnestness that is most endearing. You just want to give Arjun a hug — he moves you so deeply. As for his partners in arms — Ashfaque Bismillah Khan (Gochi), Salman Chhote Khan (Bhura), Maaman Menon (Abdul) and Thirupathi Kushnapelli (Bindaas Murugan) are so real and natural that I wanted to take them to a burger and fries party at a food court just to hear them talk while they are still in character. Saqib Saleem as Arjun’s teacher and Neha Joshi as his mother shine as bright as the children. Saqib is turning out to be an actor who I want to watch more of.
Hawaa Hawaai is all feelings. It made me fly.