Movie Review: Hawaizaada

January 30, 2015

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

At first glance, Vibhu Puri’sHawaizaada” (“Prince of the air”) looks like it’s been made from the leftover set pieces of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. You are treated to opulent mansions, cobbled streets and raindrops falling in slow motion. While they make for great visuals, they don’t really help the story.

The film is based on the life of Shivkar Talpade, who is said to have designed and flown an aircraft eight years before the Wright brothers, although there is no definitive proof that he actually achieved the feat. Puri’s film is more a fairytale than a biopic; and for a period film, certainly doesn’t bother with authenticity. So in a film that is set in 1895, men are wearing modern wristwatches, women are wearing nail polish and people are talking about “cutting chai” (half a cup of tea, in Mumbai parlance).

Ayushmann Khurrana plays Talpade, an aimless young man who doesn’t do much for most of the film other than woo dancer Sitara (Pallavi Sharda, who displays exactly one pained expression throughout the two-and-a-half-hour film) and shadow his mentor Subbaraya Shastry (Mithun Chakraborty), whose is actually the man behind the airplane project.

Puri wastes the first half tracking the rather listless romance between Talpade and Sitara instead of focusing on what should have been the core of the film – the effort to construct the first-ever flying machine.

Even when the effort is chronicled, it is done in a heavy-handed manner. Talpade is depicted as the “first free Indian” because he took flight, British officers are depicted as caricaturish despots, and there are even some last-minute feel-good moments when a Muslim man gives up his Haj money to finance Talpade’s project.

Just like his set, Puri’s film also focuses on the theatrics, the frills, the melodrama, and not on the actual story, which makes for a very tedious watch. Khurrana obviously believes in the theatrics because he overdoes every single scene, almost as if he was in a silent film and his expressions were needed to convey what words cannot.

We don’t really know if an Indian was the first human to fly an airplane, but “Hawaizaada” was a great opportunity to tell the audience about the life of Talpade and the history of aviation in India. Sadly, the film never manages to get off the ground.

(Editing by David LalmalsawmaFollow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay and David @davidlms25 | This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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