Bollywood Ayushmann Khurrana’s latest film Hawaizaada is an ambitious attempt to chronicle the life of the maverick Indian scientist Shivkar Talpade who claims to have invented an airplane before the Wright Brothers. Naturally, his quest set against 1895 Mumbai is riddled with obstacles and crashes, but it’s the viewers who are frantically looking for a parachute to escape.
The dramatic re-telling of Talpade’s life is laborious and over-dramatic. It’s almost like you are watching a street play that meanders.
Khurrana, with his mop of curls, round glasses and suspenders, is earnest in his performance but ends up trying too hard. His eccentricity and movements are hyperbolic and the story seems to be suffering from an identity crisis of sorts. Should it be a inter-caste love story between Talpade and the lissome dancer (Pallavi Sharda) or should it capture the eccentricity of his brilliance?
From the looks of it, director Vibhu Puri left this unresolved as the film oscillates between showcasing Talpade’s blinding love and his mad ingenuity. What’s also jarring are the elaborate sets that have been constructed to transport us to the 19th century era.
The 1895 colonial Mumbai looked clinical and contrived, especially the turf of Talpade’s mentor Shastri, played by Mithun Chakraborty. He lives in a huge wooden ship and is tirelessly working to invent the world’s first aeroplane. While Talpade is written off as a loser by his folks, Shastri takes him under his wings. Together, they set out to fulfil the dream of inventing an aircraft.
In the background, there’s the rumbling of discontent from the British about the making history, but it’s never fully explored in the film. The British police officers are shown as a bunch of bumbling idiots and there are more than five songs to break the momentum of the film.
All of this makes it difficult to take Hawaizaada seriously as a liberally-altered biopic. The premise was promising, but the film never soars dramatically.
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Pallavi Sharda and Mithun Chakraborty
Stars: 2 out of 5