Movie Review: Hawaa Hawaai

Going for a movie with my parents was one of my great pleasures in life. We drove down to the theatre, usually with pre-booked tickets in the comfy sofa seats, bought sundry snacks, and sat down to a few hours of mindless entertainment in comfort. Nowadays, with dad gone, we’ve stopped going. But there was a time where one or sometimes two movies a week was the norm.

A few years ago, a common trailer was played before several of the movies. It was of Hawaa Hawaai, and it seemed like a down-on-his-luck guy comes out on top story. I love those kinds of movies, plus it had something to do with skating. And lastly, I loved this song that played when the trailer came on. It was just lovely. [Doesn’t have subtitles, sorry, but this is a pretty decent translation.]

Story: The story opens with a young boy, Arjun Waghmare, sitting next to his dad, praying. The rest of him family is around, smiling. The next scene, you see Arjun  getting a job with a tea stall owner. His mother stands next to him, extremely distraught, but he convinces her to let him work.

As the movie unfolds, the viewer is taken through Arjun’s day to day existence as a poverty-stricken child in Mumbai. His father has passed on, and the boy does his best to help his mother run the household, as does all the members of the close-knit family. He has a bunch of friends, all working children, who eat lunch together and have each others’ backs.

The tea stall is set up in the parking lot of commercial complex. However, at night, it transforms into a classroom for skating children, taught by a dedicated trainer, Aniket Bhargava. Arjun is fascinated by the skates, and wants to try doing it.

When the skates prove too expensive for their combined slender means, the boys band together and make a pair of skates out of refuse. The trainer is so impressed, he volunteers to train Arjun for the next skating competition.

Review: The story is an upbeat one, but there are so many underlying subtle commentaries about social ills: genetically modified grains destroying farming families, poverty in the cities, childhood labour, disgraceful medical facilities, and so on. The subtexts are so powerful, their sorrow sometimes overwhelms the narrative, although in a necessary way. Basically, I was in tears several times.

Story: Beautiful story, with well-executed story arcs. Only, at the end of the second act, the major setback was too contrived for my taste. The director did build up to it, but it was too coincidental. Somehow, in stories, coincidences are irksome, even though they do occur in real life too!

Characters: Immensely relatable characters, with complex personalities and true pathos. Indescribably transcendent.

Acting: Terrific performances, especially from the child actors. They could have been real street children, lifted from the slums of Dharavi.

What I liked: Everything. I usually avoid dramas, because the sorrow lingers far longer than the happiness. But in this movie’s case, it was worth it. Yes, there is happiness with a good outcome, but it doesn’t change the fundamental sorrow at the heart of this movie: that father’s death.

What I disliked: Nothing. Beautiful, beautiful movie.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩✩

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