Directed by: Vibhu Puri
Starring: Ayushman Khuranna, Pallavi Sharda, Mithun Chakraborthy
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing
Loosely based on the life and alleged achievements of Shivkar Talpade, who is sometimes credited as a maker of the first unmanned plane, which he supposedly constructed with the help of Vedic texts as leads for proportions and materials, Hawaizaada is a product with an ambition to be part Lagaan, part Bollywood extravaganza. I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if it didn´t feel like a huge Saawariya hangover. Mind you, Saawariya is to me a gem of a film, one of my most favourite movies ever. But here the inspiration with Bhansali style of making films is so rampant it actually out-Bhansalies the Bhansali. The one thing missing though is the mystery, atmosphere and deep feeling of it all. Cinematography is stunning and details poetic and wonderful, yet the picturesque beauty lacks soul.
Not only the fairytale-like, colour-harmonized sets larger than life feel familiar. Ayushman Khuranna as Shivy feels familiar too. As if "Raj" from Saawariya just stepped into another story with a different face. They are both young, carefree, optimistic and playing instruments, not worrying of where they are to sleep tonight or what tomorrow will bring. They both fall for a girl who is beautiful in a second, and she becomes their obsession. Where Ranbir was believable in the role, Ayushman does not strike the chord. Perhaps my knowledge of his previous movies interfered too much with the innocence shown here, and so I was simply not convinced, even less so during his weeping scenes. As the film progresses, Ayushman´s over the top act gets actually really annoying. The exumberant, forced smiles, the constant shaking of the head and stubbornly repeated sentimental lines – Shivy with his head of artificial curls has nothing on Ranbir´s Raj. Pallavi Shardha is a girl who I think is destined to be lost to Bollywood viewers soon, simply because she just has hardly any screen presence. Unless luck smiles upon her, I don´t think she will stick around for long as a lead actress.
Then there is of course Mithun Chakraborthy, a man grossly underrated because once upon a time 80s happened to him. I cannot say a bad word about him, and if there is any failing with his character of Shastry, just pin it on the screenplay please.
Clearly, the film was meant to boost some patriotism, being after all set at the time of British dominance over India. And so you can be sure there are petty English officers (awful actors) speaking awful Hindi - even among themselves, and some big patriotic speeches and mottos. I like patriotism, just in films it sometimes gets too much. Hawaizaada does overstep the line, more dramatically as it goes on. Furthermore: I am not keen on technical aspects of building planes, but the movie made it look as easy as nailing few boards together. It takes one particularly harmless bomb to set free and flee with a prisoner right from a courtroom, and the British only find out hours (days?) later. Well, no wonder, since they also apparently have no idea where to look for the guy, even though he lives on a big-ass ship that keeps the lights on and is clearly inhabited.
Better, tighter screenplay and more emphasis on the conflict between love for a girl and dedication to a teacher and friend could have made Hawaizaada a very good film in spite of the blatant ripping off of Saawariya. As it is, it does not deserve more than an average rating.