Kadvi Hawa review: the killing fields

Actor Sanjai Mishra spent an hour with a blind man over a cup of tea to prepare for his role in Kadvi Hawa .  

A bleak, arid landscape, parched of rains; barren lands with no yields; mounting debts; tragic suicides by farmers as an escape and the psychological impact of these deaths on the loved ones of the survivors.

Nila Madhab Panda’s Kadvi Hawa took me back to Satish Manwar’s Marathi film Gabhricha Paus (The Damned Rain, 2009) in its portrayal of suicides impinging on the psyche of those alive and struggling for survival; the families fearing the worst for their bread-winners, watching over them in fear. Who will be the next in the growing roster of self-inflicted deaths?

Kadvi Hawa
  • Director: Nila Madhab Panda
  • Starring: Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey, Tillotama Shome, Bhupesh Singh
  • Run time: 99.30 minutes
  • Storyline: An unusual relationship develops between a rural bank’s debt collector and an old farmer in a drought ridden, arid Rajasthan.

Panda’s film is also a reminder about how little the fate of the farmer has changed on screen (and for real too). Be it Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin (1953) Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001), Anusha Rizvi’s Peepli Live (2010) or Kadvi Hawa, it’s still all about inadequate produce, mounting debts, unpaid loans, insufficient compensations, government apathy. Only the evil moneylender of yore has turned into exploitative banks and their merciless recovery agents.

Panda gives the familiar tale a new twist and urgent context of climate change: how the capriciousness of weather has been the one wreaking havoc. He doesn’t go into the details of how that has come about, how the human race could be responsible for bringing this upon itself. He merely shows us the impact in the rural scenario while ruing that the wind that was once sweet and life-affirming has now turned dark and bitter. Nowhere does it come about better than a classroom scene in which the teacher asks about the cycle of seasons and a child can’t think of more than two — the harsh summers and extreme winters.

The sterile ravines echo the bone-dry lives of people. Panda keeps it rough and real, planting the viewer right in the midst of the sweaty, smelly bodies, be it in the Dholpur bus or at the Mahalaxmi Rural Bank.

Panda also locates the vagaries of weather in the personal plights and predicaments of two radically different individuals. An unusual relationship develops between Gunu, a rural bank’s debt collector from Odisha (Ranvir Shorey, rapacious and opportunistic yet vulnerable) and Hedu, an old, sightless farmer in a drought ridden, arid Rajasthan (Sanjay Mishra). They are also at the extreme ends of climate change — one scared of excessive, torrential rains and the fury of the sea, other thirsting for a downpour. Basically both are in despair which makes them strike a deal. This, perhaps, is the most compelling aspect of the film but comes way too late in the narrative and leaves one asking for more.

Kadvi Hawa is essentially a short story on screen with a proverbial twist in the tale. Panda, however, plays it too slow for its own good — long sequences, seemingly static scenes. It gets protracted and plodding. The end is sudden, abrupt, leaving one with lots to ponder on but would have been more impactful, had the film been crisper than the 100-odd minutes.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 1:39:32 AM |

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