It's rare to see a film with characters neatly crafted. Rarer still where every actor is a possible protagonist and no single actor is given a 'favored treatment'. That is the beauty of a well-made film. It also speaks volumes about the vision of the person behind the camera; in this case Amole Gupte.
There is Partho Gupte, the director's son who plays Arjun; there's Sanjay Dadhich who plays Bhatt, the tea stall owner where Arjun works. There is also Neha Joshi who plays Arjun's mother and Saqib Saleem the coach and his elder brother played by Anuj Sachdeva. All five have important, central roles, one linked to the other.
How can you forget the four boys who play Arjun's friends? One a rag-picker, the other a mechanic, another who is zari worker and the last one, an urchin who sells flowers at traffic signals.
There is also the bunch of students who train under Saqib after sunset. All these form the crux of the story. The love angle with Pragya Yadav is dealt with subtly. You don't know in the end who she is in love with, or rather who is in love with her; Saqib or his elder brother. CHECK OUT: HAWAA HAWAAI Song Lyrics
At first you feel that Arjun, whose life has nose-dived after his father's death, is the protagonist. He comes to the city along with his sister, little brother, mother and grandmother. A bright 14-year-old student who was once a topper in his class, he now has to work hard to see the expenses through. Schooling is a distant dream. His younger sister and mother too are involved in domestic work.
And when Saqib comes onto the scene you feel his is the main role. But Anuj's role carries equal weight. Neha as the mother has some scene-stealing moments especially when she leaves her son at the tea stall to work, at the hospital when he is admitted in a serious state and at the race where she empties her plastic bag in search of his birth certificate.
Dadhich as Bhatt the tea stall owner, from his own corner behind the stove, stamps his class as a super performer. And among Arjun's four friends, all surpass the director's expectations as they give a heart-warming, award-winning performance.
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With STANLEY KA DABBA, Gupte stamped his class on a very mature yet, childlike issue. With HAWAA HAWAAI, he gives wings, nay wheels, to those who dare to dream.
Shattered by his father's death, Arjun works hard to boost his families' income. Here, he is witness to kids during their skating training under their sir. He nurses a dream to skate. This dream of his is given wings by his four friends who rummage through scrap to build a pair of skate of their own. All four use their expertise in their field to give wheels to Arjun's dream.
Soon, Saqib sees the determination of the lad and works towards making him a champ. Gupte does not follow the same old formula which rides to the inevitable end. He uses creativity to break the dreary 'set-piece' of films like these. CHECK OUT: HAWAA HAWAAI stills
However, on the flip side, I must say that he goes overboard in some scenes using melodrama. The scene where Arjun races with a flashback of his father's death is a little overbearing and long. Ditto the manner in which Saqib's brother returns from USA to witness the race, and the last-minute race for the birth certificate.
But these flaws are easily forgiven because Gupte uses Hitesh Sonik's music to tell beautiful sub-stories within the story. With the song Sapno Ko Ginte Ginte
, being played in the background, Gupte unfolds a contrast between the rich and poor kids.
HAWAA HAWAAI is refreshing, unique, charming, challenging, uplifting... HAWAA HAWAAI bares its soul! Let your kids take flight this summer, with HAWAA HAWAAI.
Take a bow, Amole Gupte... we need more films like these.