From the ancient periods, there are lots of mysteries and myths floating around the human race - coming straight out of the sea beds. The tranquil, blue sea-water world is dangerously interesting, deeply mysterious and dangerously majestic, while at the same time the chaotic prequels on the sea shore are full of exciting tragicomedies, courtesy of the people associated with and lived by the sea - the fishermen, the sailors and sometimes, the travellers. Be it the earth-conquering mega-blockbuster theatrical superhits like 'Titanic' or 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series, the sea-lore-based films have always intrigued audiences for the amusing and amazing narratives, the brilliant depiction of the cinematographies around the mystic blues and the united marine life creatures, but most importantly - the stories of the sea-dwellers.
Exactly a week ago from this very day, a landscape-shivering landmark Bangladeshi movie got its much-anticipated release across the country, creating unimaginable hype and buzz among everyone. The name is 'Hawa,' the Bengali meaning for wind - a very constant element in nature which controls the sea narratives. The film, the debut project of the acclaimed television and TVC director and the alternative pop band 'Meghdol's lyricist-vocalist-guitarist Mejbaur Rahman Sumon as a filmmaker, has been a remarkable journey of five years in planning and making, to brilliantly portray a common-yet not-so-common story on the big screen.
The industry has had previous renditions of sea-based storytelling, so the mass audience was curious about the narrative of the film. 'Hawa' is a contemporary representation of the sea folklore, based on the setting of a local trauler boat (fishing boat) named 'Noyon Tara.' This article will not provide many spoilers because this is just the first week and still moviegoers are waiting to grab the tickets every day, but the summary goes like this: at the beginning of the film, the fishermen on the trauler led by Chan Majhi - played by popular actor Chanchal Chowdhury - are unsure of what to do with a girl who got trapped by their fishing net. They rescued the girl who was revealed as a river-gipsy, colloquially known as 'Bedeni' - but got confused about what to do with her because local superstition suggests it would be unlucky to have a lady on board while fishing. However, they are forced to continue their adventure with the girl, Gulti, played by young actress Nazifa Tushi. They are thrilled and excited to have her, but as the trip goes on, the boat experiences bad luck when they could not catch any fish for a few days. The sea has other intentions for Chan Majhi and his fishermen throughout the rest of the movie as they attempt to return home, while the whole narrative reveals the darkest sides of human nature.
'Hawa' features an ensemble cast consisting of some genuine 'actors,' who eventually became the inhabitant of the trauler and were not separable from that identity, courtesy of their dedication towards their given roles. Chanchal Chowdhury, a veteran who already had classics under his name including 'Monpura' and 'Aynabaji,' gives Chan Majhi's morally dubious character real depth, making him reprehensible throughout the entirety of 'Hawa.' His amazing performance got propelled by the rest of the cast, including the veteran director Sumon Anwar, Shohel Mondol, Nasir Uddin Khan and others. And the other two important cast members - Sariful Razz and Nazifa Tushi - delivered flawless performances in their respective parts, leaving the audiences wondering how on earth these two pulled out such amazing acting despite not being theatre performers. They went on a four-month training under the directive of Sumon to adopt the lifestyle of the sea in the trauler, and the dedication got reflected in their performances. Moreover, all the actors were successful to connect with one another organically and fluidly using refined accents and the subtleties of life at sea, making the narrative believable and pleasantly realistic.
The film, ever since the release of its trailer and the eventual release last week, earned its well-deserving appraisals from everyone for its breathtaking cinematography, outstanding production design, and gorgeous colour grading - making it a visual treat for moviegoers. Masterfully written by Sumon alongside Faruque Jahin Amin and Sukorno Shahed Dhiman - the sequences are wonderfully constructed, and some of the framings showcased how well the director understands the cinematic language. The beautiful drone shots, the scenic views of the sea and its elements, and the unseen interior of a trauler - Sumon and his team, most notably the mighty cinematographer Kamrul Hasan Khosru - portrayed everything in perfection.
Although 'Hawa' takes its time developing the plot and what is at stake, the film enthrals for being full of metaphors and easter eggs. While the narrative leaves some things up for interpretation with a few unresolved issues, the storytelling seemed balanced as the movie begins slowly and gains thrilling turns and twists in the second half.
If anything needs to be specifically celebrated in 'Hawa' more than its amazing visuals and actings, one must have to mention the song that electrified the whole nation - "Shada Shada Kala Kala," which proved the ability of Mejbaur Rahman Sumon not only as a storyteller but as a music enthusiast at the best. On July 8, "Shada Shada Kala Kala" was released on Jazz Multimedia's official YouTube channel and immediately became incredibly popular all over the nation. This festive hymn of the fishermen took over the mainstream and has been playing everywhere - on the streets, on buses, in eateries, and even on campuses - garnering organic popularity among people from all walks of life. To date, the song has received more than 21 million views on YouTube. Erfan Mridha Shiblu, the location manager of the film, is the artist who performed the song, while the lyrics and melody were created by Hashim Mahmud - a god-gifted talent who has been a known face at Dhaka University's Charukala premise, where Sumon, then a student of Charukala, was used to be enthralled with Hashim's majestic creations. From that dignity, Sumon took the risk of avoiding mainstream traditions of expensive, unnecessary musical arrangements and tracks in his maiden cinematic venture, and included the refined version of Hashim Mahmud's majestic creation, with the masterful assistance of brilliant composer Emon Chowdhury and celebrity percussionist Mithun Chakra. The song is already on its way to becoming a cult classic, accompanied by another track which is not a soundtrack included in the film but drastically helped the promotions. The song is "E Hawa" by Meghdol, Sumon's own band, tremendously sang by Meghdol vocal Shibu Kumar Shill - and this track was released by the band as a promotional track for the film as well as the fifth track from Meghdol's upcoming album 'Aluminium Er Dana'. A collaboration of Meghdol Sumon's Facecard Production, the song has been a tranquil, serene depiction of the film- despite not being used in the storytelling at all. A tribute to Sumon's historic silver screen sea voyage, "E Hawa" instantly got overwhelming responses from the audiences.
Almost a flawless production in every department, "Hawa" has a minor set of flaws as nothing is perfect in this world. The usage of colloquial slang and gore scenes in the film deserved a 'R' rating for family audiences, and despite being made with international standards, the film should have included English subtitles for the expatriate moviegoers in Dhaka, who might face difficulties coping with the narrative because of the language barrier. Some viewers may have felt a little underwhelmed by the gradual buildup in the first half and the fast-paced climax, but Chanchal and Nasir Uddin Khan's outstanding performances make up for it in the conclusion.
In these dire straits of the industry with the absence of audiences in theatres, films like 'Poran' and 'Hawa' was the much-needed antidotes which have finally brought back the long-gone middle class to the cinema halls, breaking sales records for the hall owners who suffered unimaginably during the pandemic lockdown era for the last two years. Any movie these days finds it challenging to live up to the hype and expectations, and "Hawa" brilliantly projected the philosophical statement of human instincts through its sea folklore-based narrative. This brilliant recounting of local mythology in the context of a fishing trauler in the middle of the sea is the wind of change that the industry needed, and the film should be watched at least once.
From a reviewer's point of view - "Hawa" is a visual treat and worth the hype.
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