From getting inspired from former President of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam ( I AM KALAM) to AIDS awareness (BABLOO HAPPY HAI) to an emotionally powerful jeremiad on global warming (KADVI HAWA), filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda this time makes Akshay Kumar and the government of India proud with HALKAA.
A movie which can be called as the kid version of Akshay Kumar starrer TOILET: EK PREM KATHA that somewhere offers a tribute to Raju Hirani’s LAGE RAHO MUNNA BHAI, supports the ‘swach bharat’ initiative and promotes a school as well as a brand known for bath fittings. HALKAA has the ingredients but somewhere in its preparation loses the jaika (taste, flavor) of a feel good kid flick that gives a message on having hygienic sanitations at will.
HALKAA tries too many things, apart from the above mention tributes; it’s also a twisted take on ‘dreams’ and class divide that doesn’t dig deep and just scratches the surface.
Pichkoo (Tathastu), a young boy living in Delhi slums does his morning routine at home by lighting a few agarbattis and plastic bags, the 10 something Pichkoo hates to go to the railway track and avoids the public toilet as it stinks like hell. Pichkoo dreams of having a sochalaya (toilet) of his own. His mother (Paoli Dam) doesn,t mind Pichkoo doing his toilet in his home but father (Ranvir Shorey) is against this behavior. Pichkoo in his constant endeavor to find different avenues to release his ‘relief’ meets two likeminded individuals who are also ashamed in doing the act in public while others are watching. A boy of his age Gopi (Aryan Preet) and a baba (Kumud Mishra). On the other hand, the government officials are granting funds to people who wish to have a toilet of their own under the Swachh Bharat scheme. Pichkoo’s father who dreams of having his own rickshaw senses this opportunity and tries to dupe the government officials by applying for the toilet but using the booty for his rickshaw.
The problem with HALKAA is that it’s ‘Halkaa’ (soft) and easy in its approach and wants to mix the hard reality with fantasy and sly humour at will. It works at some places but overall it fails to get the desired impact. Nila Madhab Panda shows traces of his brilliance, the scene where the kids from the slum are happy in their daily routine, picking garbage and playing with the same speaks volumes. The one at the bath fitting brand plush showroom is the other but at the same time; the uncanny characterization of Kumud Mishra as ’baba’, the sequence where Pichkoo is forcefully paraded to the railway track as he is caught squatting at home by his father is neither humorous nor dramatic. Anyhow, the earnestness of Nila Madhab Panda to deliver a cinema with message centered on kids should be appreciated.
Technically sound with naturalistic performance, Tathastu as Pichkoo shines and carries the film on his able shoulders. Ranvir Shorey is fantastic, Paoli Dam is amazingly natural.
HALKAA at the most is a good coffee time on small screen that can make Akshay Kumar proud, if any prequel or spin off of TOILET: EK PREM KATHA is planned, HALKAA might help in spite of its inability to make that ‘clean sweep’ which Nila Madhab Panda did previously in I AM KALAM and KADVI HAWA