Mumbai: Taking wild liberties with both history and science, Hawaizaada is a film that flies off at a tangent in its ill-advised bid to labour the point that it was an Indian who was the worldâ€™s first man to fly an aircraft.
The inspiration for writer-director Vibhu Virender Puriâ€™s first film is the real-life Shivkar Talpade, a grassroots inventor whose fascination for flying drove him to try the impossible way back in the 1890s almost a decade before the Wright brothers marked the beginning of aviation. But that is where the filmâ€™s connection with any semblance of reality ends.
The rest of Hawaizaada is a fluffy, over-the-top re-imagining of how the maverick might have fared with his adventures.
If the film is to be believed, Talpade and the woman in his life were actually in the aircraft when it took off over the sea in Mumbai on November 7, 1895.
The original title of Hawaizaada was Bambai Fairytale. Had the makers stuck to it, the film might have been easier to understand. Hawaizaada is after all a musical fantasy that seeks to pass off fiction as reality.
It swings between the severely laboured and the overly flashy all through its running time, which goes beyond the two-and-a-half-hour mark.
It seeks to underscore the primacy of Vedic science as well as the heroism of a man fighting to beat the British at their own game. But the conflict points take on ludicrous proportions as the British rulers give the Indian inventor and his supporters a tough time.
However, Hawaizaada isnâ€™t a complete washout. The film is a visual treat, thanks to the cinematography by Savita Singh and production design by the duo Subrata Chakrabarty and Amit Ray.
Ayushman Khurana in the title role does full justice to the character of the scientist who follows his heart without worrying about the consequences. If only the figure was more believable and the treatment of the defining event more lifelike, he might have made a far greater impact.
Pallavi Sharda, last seen in the disastrous Besharam, is required to flesh out a tamasha dancer who comes into the manâ€™s life, causing him both pain and joy. Although her character, like the rest of the film, is marred by lack of balance, Hawaizaada is her shot at redemption. She grabs it with both hands.
Mithun Chakraborty is the protagonistâ€™s eccentric mentor and child actor Naman Jain plays the heroâ€™s nephew. Both demonstrate a degree of flair that is largely wasted in the service of a storyline that simply does not take off.