- Director: Nila Madhab Panda
- Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey, Tillotama Shome, Bhupesh Singh
- Rating: 3.5 stars
“We have a saying, our children are not born with their destiny, but with their debts,” mutters Sanjay Mishra’s character Hedu, in his ‘office’ as he passes on strategic information to Gunu Babu (Ranvir Shorey) on how to recover loans from the debt ridden farmers in his village. The strategic information is carefully curated village hearsay that he passes on, in exchange of Gunu Babu, a ruthless bank loan recovery agent, not harassing his son, Mukund (Bhupesh Singh), to pay up his share. And Hedu’s ‘office’ is a delicious shade under a large tree, in the middle of an arid landscape where water is scarce and the heat is searing.
Hedu maybe a bent, 70 year old villager who is blind, but he clearly has more foresight than most around him – already predicting that monsoons may not hit their village, Mahua, near Dholpur the following year as well.
It’s the bitter ripple effect of climate change that director Nila Madhab Panda brings out in Kadvi Hawa, a film based on real life stories. With climate change and extreme weather conditions looming large as a reality in our world, it is hard to ignore the relevant message this film brings out through it’s narrative. As the farmers in Mahua grapple with low rainfall and pile up loans, suicides make for an inevitable way out for some. In fact, in a telling scene, a schoolteacher asks his students how many seasons are there in a year. “Two”, quips one student, “winter and summer”. When the peeved teacher asks what about the monsoons, the student replies, “But it only rains for 3 or 4 days in the year, sometimes in winter and sometimes in summer.” The rest of the students break into laughter, but the effect of climate change is the hard truth one must swallow. With no sugar coating or soft focus to lighten the blow. When Hedu’s granddaughter, with whom he shares a special bond, brings up the conversation in the school under a starlit sky, he tells her how it’s always the wind that would bring in the season change. And now that’s changed.
Guni babu or ‘God of Death’ as he has been nicknamed by the debt-ridden farmers, too has been dealt with the same fate, albeit in a different part of the country. He is clearly a victim of his circumstances, as he is compelled to leave his family behind in Orissa, where floods have submerged his village. He relocates to Dholpur to earn a living for his family back home. Earning a double commission on recovering loans from the farmers in Mahua is his ticket to reuniting with his family.
As both Hedu and Guni strike a deal amongst themselves, they seem to be on the steady ground until a crisis hits their carefully thought out plan.
Sanjay Mishra as Hedu is, simply put – superlative. He gets under the skin of his character with aching precision – from the mannerisms of a blind man whose other senses are heightened to even a low hum that seems to be second nature to Hedu. He is helpless, old and bent up yet he is sharp enough to plan ahead to secure his son’s family against any impending tragedy. And he is wonderfully supported by Ranvir Shorey, who balances out his ruthless act with his vulnerability perfectly.
Tillotama Shome as Parvati, Hedu’s daughter in law forms an underlying motif in the film – a lady who is always on the sidelines, rustling up food, caring for the children. Yet her expressions speak louder than anything else.
The rural landscape of Central India is shown with all its gritty realities – the dry and dusty terrain, the flies, grime and the sweat, overcrowded buses and long winding lines in banks, 5-6 school kids packed on a motorbike held together by a rope so that they don’t fall off on their bumpy ride to school – these set the subtle undertone to the film.
Karvi Hava has some interludes of humor, but for the most part, it is hard-hitting and poignant storytelling. And is a film with a strong narrative and an important message that can’t be brushed aside.