This week the film that has landed in a theatre near you is called Hawaizaada. Assembled together by debutant director Vibhu Puri it is said to be based on the life of scientist Shivkar Bapuji Talpade. A quick Google search about the same shall reveal precious little about a man credited to have constructed Indiaâ€™s first un-manned plane in 1895 ( 8 years before the Wright Brothers.) The search shall also reveal that evidence to support such a claim is scarce and the technical feasibility dubious. Some also suggest that the flight was actually a failure. This lack of information and scientific proof however hasnâ€™t really deterred the spirit of Vibhu Puri who along with Saurabh Bhave has also written the screenplay of the film. As a biopic, sans facts and a tight screenplay the film seems more like a hot air balloon than an inspiring story about a man with an Icarus like soul.
The movie starts with Shivkar (Ayushmann Khurana) an 8 times class 4 repeater wearing suspenders to keep his red shorts up. This is followed by a song. We also see Shivkar photobomb a stage performance followed by a song. We then lay eyes on the dancer Sitara (Pallavi Sharda) who is to later become the love interest or principle distraction of Shivkar followed by another song. We meet Shivkarâ€™s conservative family in the midst of a few more songs and witness the blossoming love between the lead pair precariously balanced on a couple of more songs. You guessed it right! There are more songs in the film than in your damn XL Popcorn basket! Ironic isnâ€™t it then that the film that is supposed to throw light on how India made the first unmanned flying machine itself never really takes off!
Oh lest I forget, nestled in the middle of a few more songs is an Einstein wig wearing Mithun Chakravarty or Pandit Subbaraya Shastri as we know him in the movie. The poor fellow limps and coughs and quiversâ€™ and tries to get the whole film back on track but to no avail. A biopic demands certain sincerity, an allegiance to facts and steadfast commitment to the subject but in all these departments Hawaizaada simply sits and farts. In place of scientific temperament we have Vedic shlokas being recited â€ś shlok 312, adhyay 8, Yajur vedâ€ť. As a sorry compensation to hard core lab exploits we have Ayushmann and Mithun sporting ruffled hair and haggard expressions fixing nuts and bolts on a rather classy, Victorian looking machine with melodramatic songs playing in the background. Instead of studied forecast we have poetic invocations like â€ś7 November samandar se aane wali hawa plane udaayegiâ€ť. The characters keep faffing and the film doesnâ€™t stop gassing. There is nothing authentic about a computer generated pirate ship that doubles up as a laboratory and Irani cafĂ©s in the middle of nowhere with lovebirds singing songs.
Now itâ€™s all very well to make a film on the indigenous gems of our country in an atmosphere charged with â€śmake in Indiaâ€ť and hailing Indian civilization for being original inventors and discoverers of most major scientific breakthroughs. But my fear is that with such a badly made film we are doing more harm than good. Although if the aim was to dwarf the British we have done it brilliantly! This film will go down in history as the one with the most stupid looking Britishers ever. There is a scene where one funny looking British officer tells the other funny looking British officer â€śChatterjee chatter less and take him awayâ€ť in the most ludicrously sing song fashion. Hah there! The empire strikes back! In another instance, Shivkar extracts a British soldierâ€™s tooth and goes scot free. He even runs from court and no one comes to arrest him back. Our colonial masters who are pushing daisies would flip twice over in their graves. Itâ€™s a party out there really albeit one we donâ€™t want to be a part of!
As for the actual flight of the flying machine, thatâ€™s probably the only time when the background score does its job well and the strains of Vande mataram make us sit upright and at some point even a little misty eyed. But itâ€™s too little too late. 157 minutes long the film has very little to keep us glued. The movie ends with a citation. The first â€śgulaam mulq ka aazad hindustaniâ€ť Shivkar Talpade we are told died at the age of 66 in 1946 in a still colonized India. Was it true - his whole story, we ask ourselves? Did an Indian really become the first man in the world to fly? If the answer to this is yes then this great man certainly deserves a much, much better film.
Take a life jacket along if you must to save yourself from drowning in the ocean of disappointment. Iâ€™d declare it a no fly zone