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Movie Review 'Hawaa Hawaai': It tries hard but fails to take off

DECCAN CHRONICLE | KUSUMITA DAS
Published May 8, 2014, 11:40 pm IST
Updated Apr 1, 2019, 9:21 am IST
'Hawaa Hawaai' is a predictable Amole Gupte film
The magical treatment that we saw in 'Taare Zameen Par' and later in 'Stanley Ka Dabba', is nowhere to be found in 'Hawaa Hawaai'
 The magical treatment that we saw in 'Taare Zameen Par' and later in 'Stanley Ka Dabba', is nowhere to be found in 'Hawaa Hawaai'
 
Cast: Partho Gupte, Saqib Salim
Director: Amole Gupte
Rating: **
 
I may be wrong but something tells me that when Amole Gupte set out to make Hawaa Hawaai, it was perhaps a very different film on paper.
 
The story is something that’s totally up Gupte’s alley. A 12 or 13-year-old boy who falls into bad times after his father’s sudden demise and then finds a job as an assistant at a roadside tea stall. His contribution to the family income is 50 rupees per day. Even though the premise sounds sad, this boy, Arjun Harishchandra Waghmare, christened Raju by his tea stall boss, does not wallow in self-pity. He has friends, and a very interesting bunch at that. And he has a dream. Arjun, who serves tea at a roller skating academy, aspires to learn the sport and run the races someday. There is suffering peppered with optimism, a classic Amole Gupte approach to the subjects he takes up. Like his previous film Stanley Ka Dabba, Hawaa Hawaii too is set in the backdrop of child labour. It is certainly not a sequel but technically it seems a little like one as Stanley (Partho Gupte) has grown up; he’s mature and more self-conscious now, and this I say of his acting. But even as the real Stanley grows up, the film fails to.
 
Since his Taare Zameen Par days, Gupte has shown why exactly children, as subjects are his forte. But the magical treatment that we saw in TZP and later in Stanley Ka Dabba is nowhere to be found in Hawaa Hawaai . The strength of those films, especially Stanleythat he directed, was their simplicity and an absolute honesty, which holds back nothing. Just how children are, at their core. This film does have some heartwarming performances from its child actors. But there are times when they seem a little too self-conscious. Unlike how in Stanley where we felt like we are peeping into a classroom at lunchtime and there’s no camera anywhere, Hawaa Hawaai is more filmi than it intends to be. And this is not something you expect from an Amole Gupte film.
 
But there are a few Gupte gems to take home. Arjun’s gang of boys is a delightful bunch. Their one and only dream is to make him learn skating and see him in the races. They pool in their resources, comprising scrap items from a garage and dumpsters to build Arjun a pair of roller skates. The scene where his friend Bindaas Murugan, who is a rag picker, rolls down a pile of garbage bags, when his friends come calling, is a particularly endearing one. It’s barely ten seconds long but doesn’t cry for sympathy and therefore stays with you. Arjun’s another friend, Gochi’s street smartness is more charming than Arjun’s niceness. The camaraderie of this bunch is perhaps the only strong point in the film, where you get to see the Gupte touch. But then there are times when the film slips into the documentary zone, showing us a day in the life of these child labourers and that’s when it appears to be trying too hard. 
 
The back-story of Saqib Salim, who plays Arjun’s coach in the film, indulges in too many clichés. His overacting doesn’t help matters much either. The twists in the tale seem forced and the acting borders on melodrama, with the exception of the child actors. Towards the end, the melodrama reaches its pinnacle when the film literally bawls for your sympathy in a flashback sequence, where an overtly theatrical Makrand Deshpande, who plays Arjun’s father (in a cameo) cannot get over the loss of his land.
 
Partho, who impressed us all in Stanley does well but is not able to triumph over his debut film. Also, it’s a bit too obvious that he is the director’s son. There is fatherly love oozing out of every frame and I am not sure if that is a good thing.
 
When the story is predictable, a tight script and screenplay needs to take charge. Sadly, it doesn’t. The film’s undoing is the expectations it rides on. This one fails to be an Amole Gupte film.
 
 
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