Underdog stories, especially woven around a sport, usually have a formulaic template. Add to that a coach and a protege story, Hawaa Hawaai has almost all trappings that could restrict its flight. Heartrending back story, high on hope protagonist, hurdles to overcome, the cruel trysts of destiny and light at end of the tunnel – the film has it all.
Amole Gupte’s second outing as a director is about Arjun – a young lad with optimism and dreams. He and his mother make it to the Maximum City hoping to make a living. Arjun starts working at a tea stall by the day and dreams of becoming a skating champion by the night. Together with his friends and coach they set out to achieve this dream.
The predictability aside, Hawaa Hawaai manages to do more than just grab attention. And this indicates success at two key aspects of filmmaking – writing and direction. Both departments headed by Amole Gupte. He deftly brings in sub plots which add up beautifully to the final outcome of the film, never turning hindrance to the flow of the film. Gupte also manages to make Hawaa Hawaai little more than the story of one child.
The film serves as a reminder and a lesson – in hope, in empathy and gratitude. In a short montage where Gupte skillfully juxtaposes the lives of the under-privileged with the ones who have an easier urban life, he manages to set the tone which helps you understand kids who are working for a living rather than go to school. It also makes you thankful for the life that you have while making you respect the dignity of the worker.
As a director, Gupte is in top form and manages to evoke just about every emotion that he wishes to. You laugh, you smile, you brood and you almost cry too and of course you root for the little champion! And he does it with practiced restraint.
Not to forget the actors come up with stellar performances. Partho Gupte connects as the young Arjun. Saqeb Saleem justifies his place. The kid-gang add smile in dozens with their simplicity. Special mention must be made for Neha Joshi who pitches in with an awe-inspiring performance in her limited exposure role as the mother of Arjun.
Hawaa Hawaai is an endearing film for sure. It is also a statement. The film speaks for the director’s apparent ease with subjects involving a child. It affirms that writing Taare Zameen Par was not a fluke. And neither was making Stanley ka Dabba. This is one director who knows his emotions.
Enjoy this Hawaa Hawaai. Be inspired!