Banners: Drishyam Films, Akshay
Parija Productions, Eleeanora Images
Producers: Nila Madhab Panda,
Akshay Kumar Parija, Manish Mundra
Director: Nila Madhab Panda
Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey,
Tillotama Shome, Bhupesh Singh
Writers: Nila Madhab Panda,
Music: Santosh Jagdale
After winning the Best Actor award for the Hollywood film The Revenant, Leonardo Di Caprio delivered his epic speech, which said that climate change was real and it was time we opened our eyes to it. While we aren’t sure how many people found that statement to be true, it certainly inspired National Award-winning director Nila Madhab Panda, whose film Kadvi Hawa revolves around rural India finding themselves in peril due to dire climatic conditions.
The story begins with an old, blind man Hedu (Sanjay Mishra), who makes his way to the local bank with great difficulty to find out how much his son still needs to repay of a loan he had taken. After he is insulted by a bank official, Hedu returns to his village in Mahuva, where he lives with his son Mukund (Bhupesh Singh), daughter-in-law Parvati (Tillotama Shome) and granddaughter.
The family is in dire straits, financially, as is everyone else in the village, thanks to drought-like conditions, which has rendered the land unsuitable for agriculture. The situation is so grave that the children in school ask their teacher why he says there are four seasons in a year when they experience only two. Mounting debt also pushes some farmers over the edge and they commit suicide.
Hedu fears that his son will be one of them and helps Loan Officer Manoj (Ranvir Shorey) recover other people’s loans in exchange for a commission. Suddenly, Mukund goes missing and Hedu believes it is the bad karma he attracted by ratting out others to the loan officer so that his son would be spared. Meanwhile, Manoj, who is dubbed Yamdoot by the villagers, deals with his own problems, which are also the result of climate change.
The very real problem of farmer suicides due to lack of irrigation is something people across the country are facing and the director should be commended on taking up a bold, relevant subject like this without being preachy. Another pat on the back for Panda for making all his characters very human. While it is easy to elicit empathy for a hero as the protagonist, it is much more difficult to do the same for an antagonist hero. Here, Panda strikes an emotional chord which is a sign of good storytelling. Credit for this goes to Nitin Dixit and Panda, the writers.
The dialogue, also written by Dixit, is powerful. Also, Panda has not crowded the film with unnecessary songs but has made sure that the one number that is there, Main banjar, blends perfectly with the storyline, thanks also to its strong lyrics by Mukta Bhatt. A special mention to the Director of Photography Ramanuj Dutta for capturing the beauty of a land that is visibly barren, more so because the entire film has been shot on 16mm and not a digital set-up.
However, the disadvantage is that the story could have been crisper. The dark comedy between Mishra and Shorey is praiseworthy but there should have been more scenes on these lines to make the film a little more entertaining.
Panda has made a decent film but it will not appeal to the masses. While the movie delivers a social message, it should have been a little more engaging. Its slow pace and artsy feel will appeal to a very niche audience.
Performance-wise, leading man Sanjay Mishra shows how amazingly talented he is, once again, as he plays the old, blind man trying to do right by his son. Ranvir Shorey is another powerhouse actor, whose grey character makes you feel a range of emotions towards him. Tillotama Shome is fantastic and nails the rural dialect. Bhupesh Singh is decent. The young girl, Ekta Sawant, delivers an average performance. The supporting cast is decent.
Verdict: A decent watch.