Sex and violence ï¿½ a lethal combination. If the maker merges the two convincingly, it could generate tremendous excitement for the Indian cinegoer, who's not experienced much of this genre on the big screen.
Guddu Dhanoa uses sex and violence as the theme for HAWA. The result is a fare that has immense shock-value as well as titillation to bring in the hoi polloi.
After her husband walks out on her, Sanjana [Tabu] shifts to a hill station with her two kids and brother [Emraan Khan]. However, strange things begin to occur in this otherwise peaceful surrounding.
The first night, she finds the doors and windows of her mansion open, giving an impression that someone has sneaked into her house. The next night, her dog disappears, but the pet resurfaces the next night. However, the pet attacks Sanjana the moment it spots her.
The subsequent night shatters Sanjana's life. She is raped!
Sanjana is sexually assaulted by 'something' that she can feel, but cannot see! Her childhood friend [Grusha Kapoor] refers her to a psychiatrist [Shahbaaz Khan], who considers Sanjana to be a case of a split personality.
Things move from bad to worse when Sanjana is raped in front of her kids one night. On another night, while returning from work, the spirit attacks her again and worse, it even takes away her youngest daughter. The rest of the story traces her efforts to get her daughter back and solve the mystery.
HAWA clearly takes its inspiration from four Hollywood flicks. While the basic storyline bears a striking resemblance with THE ENTITY [Barbara Hershey], the setting is akin to THE OTHERS [Nicole Kidman] ï¿½ a woman residing with her two kids in a mansion located in a secluded area. Besides, the special effects bear an uncanny resemblance with POLTERGEIST and THE MUMMY RETURNS.
But it's the subject matter of HAWA that is its USP. For Hindi movie buffs, horror films are usually associated with skeletons and spirit, but in this case, the spirit rapes the protagonist repeatedly.
When you attempt a film of this genre, you've got to have the technical aspect in order. The cinematography, sound effects, special effects, background score and the overall direction has to be just perfect. HAWA doesn't let you down in either of the departments.
But the film is not without its share of flaws. The main flaw is that it moves at a very slow pace. In fact, the story unfolds at such a lethargic pace that it really tests the patience of the viewer.
In fact, there's not much movement in the story in the first half. After establishing the presence of the spirit in the mansion, the story hinges on incidents that get repetitive at times.
But the writer does infuse life and power in the narrative towards the second half. The repeated rapes, the spirit taking away Tabu's daughter and the mystery behind the spirit's 'abnormal' activities manage to keep you on the edge.
The rapes [sexual violence, as the makers choose to term it!] ï¿½ the premise on which the film stands ï¿½ have been depicted without resorting to body exposure, vulgarity and titillation. The gruesome rapes, in the shower area and later when Tabu is fast asleep, have been executed with panache. Also, the special effects during the second rape [when Tabu is fast asleep] will raise a lot of eyebrows and should attract masses by the dozens.
Directorially, Guddu Dhanoa has handled a complex subject with flourish. Those who felt Guddu was an average storyteller are bound to change their opinion after this film. He's handled the story with such conviction that not once do you feel that the film borders on absurdity.
Even the climax, though slightly lengthy, is expertly executed and looks perfectly justified from the script point of view. The special effects depicting the spirit will prove a novel experience for the Hindi cinegoers for sure. However, the director has left scope for a sequel with the way he has ended the film.
The outdoor locations of Manali are a visual treat and the cinematographer has captured them effectively on celluloid. The background score [Surender Sodhi] is excellent. Special effects are quite nice, not tacky at all.
It would be difficult to imagine a film like this without Tabu. Needless to add, the actress of substance gives the role her best shot and emerges a winner once again. Her mere presence in the film gives it the respectability that would've otherwise been lost had some mediocre actress been cast.
Shahbaaz Khan is very effective. Grusha Kapoor is okay. Emraan Khan is fair. Mukesh Tiwari makes his presence felt in a small but significant role. Vishwajeet Pradhan and Amit Behl don't get much cope.
On the whole, HAWA comes at a time when the Indian audiences are in a mood to try out something different. The film merges two lethal aspects ï¿½ sex and violence ï¿½ which should prove a path-breaking exercise for the Hindi viewer. At the box-office, the marketing strategy [by publicising it as 'sexual violence'], plus the strong content, should attract the masses aplenty, which in turn should make its investors laugh all the way to the bank.