Cast: Partho Gupte, Saqib Saleem, Anuj Sachdeva, Makarand Deshpande
Direction: Amole Gupte
‘Hawaa Hawaai’ is a delightful tale, striking just the right chords that tug at your heartstrings. Amole Gupte has infused so much personality and emotion into his characters that each and everyone stays with you much after you have left the theatre.
Arjun Harishchandra Waghmare (Partho Gupte) watches longingly as children his age glide past in shiny new roller skates. For a teenager who has had to drop out of school to make ends meet, learning to skate is a far cry. However, our child hero has an undaunting spirit and exceptional friends who not only fuel his ambitions but are also instrumental in their own little way to aid him achieve the impossible.
It is adorable to see his teenage friends - a car mechanic, a rag picker, a zari weaver and a flower seller – use their ingenuity to craft together a roller skate. Sunidhi Chauhan’s ‘Ghoom Gayi’ plays in the background, creating just the right atmosphere as the momentum builds and we see our young hero’s dreams take wings.
Life does not offer any simplistic solutions and the film does a commendable job of bringing that out. Aniket Bhargava (Saqib Saleem) is driven by passion and is instinctive about innate talent. His offer to coach the young prodigy for free and buy him new skates exposes that as the privileged we are completely oblivious to the basic needs of the have-nots. We pat our back for the scant bit that we chose to do for the society but is that enough?
Aniket is training his young star for the district championship but after a whole day’s labour, has he ever noticed that the boy has been struggling with exhaustion? Does his budding athlete even have access to proper nutrition?
Just because he has the means to sponsor Arjun’s treatment, he thinks that he can simplistically alter the entire gang’s future. And that’s when the street-smart Gochi (Arjun’s car mechanic friend) reminds him, ‘Ek time pe ek hi sapna…’, asking him to focus on the current goal and also, exposing his naiveté.
The build-up to the climax is brilliantly accomplished. It’s a rare feat that very few Bollywood sports films manage to achieve – the climax is a pulsating race, much like the one we had witnessed in Mansoor Khan’s ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’. Amole Gupte weaves the backstory seamlessly into the narration. As we root for the underdog in this story, we are excited to see him get a headstart and yet, we know, there has got to be an inevitable twist. And the story deserves loud applause as we see our protagonist let go off his troubled past and sail ahead to grab a promising future.
The film is not flawless; yes, there are some clichés and some needless pandering to Muslim sentiments reminiscent of the movies of the 1970s. But I am willing to overlook those because this is a film with a heart.
Amole Gupte’s gives us little moments that make us smile - Like the relationship between the brothers played by Saqib Saleem and Anuj Sachdeva. Or the lovely little bit where the young boys mispronounce ‘Eklavya’ as ‘Eklava’. Or where one of them says, “Baap ko pitaji bolne se baap badal jayega kya?”
It clearly shows how Arjun is different from the others, how he has had the chance to experience the “privileged” life and yet, his friends no matter how crass their language and manners have big hearts.
Saqib Saleem essays an understated performance, never over-shadowing the main lead, Partho Gupte but at the same time belting out a robust portrayal.
He was right when he had said in a recent interview that this is not a children’s film, ‘Hawaa Hawaai’ is for everyone who has the courage to chase an impossible dream.
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