It is not easy to amalgamate fantasy with history. And the job becomes tougher if you try to further sprinkle it with a bit of romance, patriotism and artistic finesse. Director Vibhu Puri’s ‘Hawaizaada’ takes up this audacious task and aims to fly high, but alas, except for some moments of genuine high flying, it stutters, stumbles and finally falls flat on the ground.
As a premise, the story of an Indian scientist of pre-independent era overcoming all odds to fly the world’s first ever aircraft sounds quite fascinating. But, glaring loopholes emerge when the director tries to weave narrative around a supposed aviation breakthrough that is not really accounted for in the history books. Hawaizaada makes no effort to legitimize Shivkar Bapuji Talpade’s exploits as an aviation scientist, and in the process ends up being an unbaked product which is part fanciful and part illogical.
The film’s first half is somewhat watchable as Mithun Chakroborty, playing Shashtriji, Shivkar Talpade’s (played by Ayushmann Khurrana) mentor, displays some old school acting skills. He is quite likable as a maverick yet brilliant scientist who is an object of ridicule for the society and a thorn of suspicion for the ‘goras’. Ayushmann, too, plays his part with suitable energy and zeal and makes his mark as the protagonist who is gifted with scientific temper but is somewhat directionless in life.
But post intermission, when Mithun’s character passes away in a rather illogical turn of events, the film becomes a massive drag. So, until ‘Shivi’ – the brilliant scientist, somehow manages to make his aircraft fly high in the sky, you are served with a string of unnecessary sub-plots that are perpetually boring and hugely annoying. There is a failed attempt to connect Shivi’s scientific achievements with India’s struggle for freedom, pass a judgment on woman emancipation, secularism, Vedic literature and what not. Yes, the second half is a total ‘Khichdi’, not the yummy rice-based delicacy we all love to savor, but a mess of over-indulgence and randomness.
To his credit, the director displays his technical brilliance throughout the film. The fact that Puri has assisted Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Saawariya and Guzaarish is more than evident as the film is filled with resplendent sets, breathtaking shots and some charming sequences. But all the technical effort goes in vain in light of a loophole-ridden story and screenplay. ‘Hawaizaada’ also suffers due to an inept support cast which includes the film’s leading lady Pallavi Sharda. She is simply not convincing as a dancer for whom Ayushmann’s character develops strong love interest. Her dialogue delivery and expressions are far from polished, and the same can be said for a host of other support characters barring the child actor Naman Jain, who fits into his role brilliantly.
‘Hawaizaada’ has some nicely written and well-shot songs but they do not gel well into the whole narrative and end up prolonging the already overstretched run-time. It seems the editors went for a very long loo break while working on the film’s second half or simply did not know how to stitch together the story’s loose ends (writers, please share the blame!).
All in all, ‘Hawaizaada’ is an interesting idea gone haywire. Watch it only if you have sufficient patience and profound fondness for some eye-pleasing visuals!
Rating: ** (Average)