The makers of Hawaizaada are prudent to tell you that this is a work of fiction, though the material at hand is sourced from the life of Marathi scientist Shivkar Talpade, who constructed and flew India’s first plane in 1895. The film unfolds in the Bombay Presidency, where Shivi (Ayushmann) – having failed the fourth grade eight-times-over – is keeping his nephew Narayan (Naman) company in the class. A vagabond, Shivi tipples and embarrasses his upright family. An accidental brush with a nautch girl Sitara (Pallavi) has him falling head-over-heels in love with her. When his father throws him out of the house for his wayward lifestyle, he becomes an assistant to Shastri (Mithun), who is secretly experimenting with the idea of making an airplane.
After a few failed attempts, the two geniuses build an aircraft. But this has to be kept hidden from the officers of the Raj, as the Britishers don’t want Indians to be perceived as ‘thinking men’ and would like to continue flaunting the world view that they were ruling a country of nincompoops.
Unfortunately, the love story between Shivi and Sitara keeps distracting. You can neither soar with the hero’s flying ambition nor can you empathise with his lovelorn plight because the debutant director Vibhu Puri doesn’t give you enough to invest in either track. The forced jingoism, use of cliches and the need to introduce spoken Marathi at intervals just to go with the Marathi manoos, are all immature ploys.
On one level, Hawaizaada works because this story about India’s unsung hero needs to find its place. But this realm depends heavily on performances – the histrionics could be several notches higher. Ayushmann doesn’t have the charisma to keep you riveted for 157 minutes. His vocals are A-class and his rendition of the evergreen ghazal Dil-E-Nadaan has that haunting quality. Mithun provides able support. Pallavi is better here than she was in her debut film Besharam.
You know that the makers have their heart in the right place because of the scale on which they have mounted this drama. The sets and VFX deserve a mention. However, you come back a tad disappointed because unlike Shivi who managed to put the wind beneath his wings, the film itself doesn’t provide even surface-level thrills.
Eight years before the Wright Brothers flew the first aircraft, an Indian had already made aviation history, says this film.
The Times of India