Directors: Nandita Roy, Shiboprosad Mukherjee
Cast: Broto Banerjee, Tiyasha Paul, Masood Akhtar, Gargi Roychowdhury, Tanusree Shankar, Aparajita Adhya, Churni Ganguly, Sujan Mukherjee, Koneenica Banerjee, Kharaj Mukherjee, Debolina Dutta, Shiboprosad
Runtime: 133 minutes
RBN Rating: 3.5/5
Nandita and Shiboprosad are known to come up with films dealing with contemporary issues, and Haami is time-befitting in every sense. The film deals with the safety of children in schools, and the growing up of a child, which every family will be able to identify.
At the core of the film’s plot is the alleged abuse of a young girl by a veteran bus attendant (Masood) who has been serving the school for close to four decades and is immensely loved by the children he ferries to and from their home. The allegations are later proved wrong, corroborated by medical tests, having cropped up from a circumstantial misunderstanding of events. The girl’s mother (Debolina) plays a crucial role in returning the attendant to service.
The film, rightfully, is never judgmental. It highlights the dilemma of all sides involved in the formal school education system of our country—parents concerned about the safety of their children, teachers confused about what length to correct a child, and the society as a whole which takes everything prima facie, courtesy social media.
And among all these, its innocence lost for the children.
Bhutu (Broto) and Chini (Tiyasha) are close friends in a city coeducational school. They come from entirely different backgrounds with Bhutu’s father a furniture shop owner, and Tiyasha’s parents sophisticated academicians. Hell breaks loose when Bhutu, the enfant terrible of the school, plants an innocent peck on Chini. Several other incidents follow and Bhutu and Chini are put in separate sections. While their parents fight about the right and wrong of these incidents, the two children silently miss each other’s company.
The cast of Haami returns a commanding performance. Broto, Tiyasha, and the entire child-cast are a delight to watch. Tansuree Shankar is restrained as the school principal and Aparijita is convincing as the motherly counselor. Shiboprosad and Gargee, reprise their roles as Laltu and Mitali respectively, from the 2014 film Ramdhanu. Sujan and Churni as Tiyasha’s parents are very believable. Koneenica as the dominating and foul-mouthed wife of the local councillor (Kharaj) is wonderful.
The film is not entirely without its flaws though. Parents are unlikely to pull each other’s hair, literally so, outside the school gate. The scene appears forced. But the director duo has managed to make that look real.
Music by Anindya Chatterjee is peppy and complements the film well. The songs are hummable and are already a hit on the music charts.
Haami is a meaningful film for the times. For every parent who is a teacher, for every teacher who is a parent, and every child who is unknowingly a part of the bitter rat race, Haami is a must watch. It delivers a very important message: Let children grow in their own world.
Will end this review with a recall.
Circa 31 October 1984. As chaos ruled streets following the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, a responsible driver, Bablukaku, had reached a school bus full of children to their homes through the serpentine north Kolkata bylanes, negotiating impromptu roadblocks and irate mobs all the way. Each child was personally handed over to their guardians. This correspondent was one of the children inside the bus who had no idea of what the madness outside was all about. Over the years, Bablukaku became synonymous with unfailing duty, to every child and their parents who saw them off to school each day.