Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Bengali film Hawa which is now streaming on SonyLiv. Usually it is during the months of October to March that I cover the Oscar nominated films. But Hawa was that one film that I was eagerly awaiting to make its way to OTT given that it was Bangladesh’s official entry to the Academy Awards last year. Now there are a couple of things that I wished to improve on my film repertoire. My sample size of watching and reviewing films from Bangladesh has been quite low with me watching only Rehana prior to Hawa(and it has been a while too). Secondly, I have been hearing huge amounts of praise for the actor Chanchal Chowdhury whose work I was witnessing for the very first time in Hawa. So then does Hawa manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Hawa follows the story of a group of fishermen who encounter a woman in the sea while fishing. This until things start to turn south for them. The story here is a slow burn and almost unfolds like a folklore. There is an element of mystery to the tale that almost acts as a slow poison and is far too deceptive than one could imagine. The screenplay standing at a shade above 2 hours does make for a compelling watch which is unique in so many ways. And I say the latter because I haven’t quite witnessed a film that is shot completely in the sea to the best of my memory. So it was a very different movie watching experience.
The drama does open with the introduction of a band of fisherman who venture into the sea amidst a level of politics which is related to the hierarchy related power. Through their talks, you get to know on who the leader of the pack is and whose monopoly is under exertion. Soon, the drama does throw in a bit of a conflict in the form of a woman who finds herself on an all men’s ship. There is an element of mystery surrounding the woman that makes you curious on what lies ahead. A couple of contrasting subplots are related to lust and power, and also love that fuels the narrative ahead.
The proceedings are compelling and they make for a very interesting watch. The drama is a slow burn but that does ensure that the viewers completely get a flavour of the events of the film by judging every character on display. I liked how the sea does play an important character too and credit to the writers for creating a setting which is peaceful and haunting at the same time. It is only after the halfway mark that you realise that the drama is indeed a folklore as the writers tactfully change the genre of the film that goes from an unconventional drama to a horror mystery.
The stakes in the screenplay are slowly raised with the number of bodies piling up. The turn of events suddenly make for a survival drama which is enthralling and thrilling at the same time. It is absolute edge of the seat stuff while you still ponder over the character of the woman which itself is a mystery, and the writers do well in keeping a few cards to themselves. The final act is slightly hurried and it did seem abrupt but it left you with too many thoughts to ponder about. My interpretation of the drama was that the character of the woman did represent the sea/nature which is peaceful when treated correctly, but the moment you try and mess with her and her other creatures(read : her father), she wpuld come back and haunt you. And when a Bengali film transports you in such a trance at the end especially when you least expect it, it is attributed to a brilliantly penned screenplay that plays on its layered themes throughout.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but quite indulgent(in a good way) and they certainly add to the mystery of the drama. The BGM is sparingly used mostly depending on the surroundings that create an ambience which is quite overwhelming and mysterious. The cinematography is one of the strongest aspects of the film. There are innumerous frames which are just so gorgeous to look at, something that I wished to keep staring into. Each frame represents a particular emotion that beautifully blends with the drama. The editing is quite crisp. The costumes and the art design deserve a mention for their authenticity, something thst represented that part of the world quite accurately(again in a very good way). Director Mejbaur Rahman does a magnificent job and strictly speaking from a film watching community, it was fascinating to witness this piece of art coming from Bangladesh. There were some genuine skills on display and it made for a compelling watch wherein the direction deserves distinction marks!
The performances are first rate by the ensemble cast. Mahmud Alam as Mora and Rizvi Rizu as Parkes have their moments to shine. Bablu Bose as Foni and Sumon Anwar as Eja are dependable in their respective characters. Sariful Razz as Ibrahim is terrific to watch. Nasir Uddin Khan as Nagu is wonderfully restrained and does a swell job. Shohel Mondol as Urkes is wonderful to watch. Nazifa Tushi as Gulti had such a complex character to portray and she does such a brilliant job here in conveying every beat of her character perfectly. She looks so pretty and does an even gorgeous job with her excellent act.
Speaking of excellence, Chachal Chowdhury is magnificent as Chan. He is intimidating and authoritative and adds layers and layers of disgust to his character that made for a fascinating character study. It was a towering act by such a wonderful performer whose other works I really wish to watch.
Hawa is a brilliant thriller disguised as a deceptive folklore that makes for a magnificent watch. Available on SonyLiv and Highly Recommended!