Hellaro Movie Review: Hellaro is a 'masterpiece' from debutant director Abhishek Shah

Rating: 4.5/5 | Director: Abhishek Shah | Writers: Abhishek Shah Prateek Gupta | Dialogues and Lyrics: Saumya Joshi | Music: Mehul Surti |

Hellaro Movie Review: Hellaro is a 'masterpiece' from debutant director Abhishek Shah

Rating: 4.5/5

Cast: Aakash Zala, Arjav Trivedi, Brinda Nayak, Denisha Gumra, Ekta Bachwani, Jagruti Thakor, Jayesh More, Kamini Panchal, Kamlesh Parmar, Kaushumbhi Bhatt, Kishan Gadhvi, Maulik Nayak, Neelam Panchal, Nilesh Parmar, Prapti Mehta, Rajan thakar, Riddhi Yadav, Sachi Joshi, Shailesh Prajapati, Shradhdha Dangar, Swati Dave, Tarjanee Bhadla, and Tejal Panchasara

Garba, as we all know, is one of the most loved folk dances of India. It has been a form of expression for many decades now and both men and women in every part of Gujarat (especially interiors) have used it as a mode of communicating or confessing their emotions. Keeping the same ideology in mind, debutant director Abhishek Shah, has written his first film 'Hellaro' which went on to bag the National Film Award in 2019. The emotion, 'Hellaro' which means outcry, straight from the deep corners of the heart, comes across thoroughly in every frame of the film.

The film opens with the backdrop of Kutch in 1975, where the men and women of the village are ready for their first day of Navratri. As per traditional norms only men are allowed to perform the dance and express. All they seek is the return of monsoon, which the village and nearby areas have not seen for the last three years. It is believed that if women perform Garba, it would disappoint the goddess and bring bad luck to the city. All they are expected to do is take care of the household. Every day, a group of women, wake up early and walk miles to fetch water. After getting married to an army officer in this village, Manjhri becomes a part of this community, but believes that every woman or girl should be allowed to live their life, on their terms, be it young or old, married or widow. On a random day, while returning after fetching the water, they come across a man who is dehydrated, and with an noble intention to help, Manjhri breaks the norms and quenches his thirst. In return, he agrees to play the dhol, to which these women fulfill their wish of preforming Garba. However, this is a secret which the women keep away from the men, in order to avoid violence within the households.

The remaining film revolves around the several questions - does this become a daily routine? Are the women able to get the respect they deserve? Do the rain gods shower their blessings on the village?

Ever since the release of the trailer, I have been very excited for the film, for its concept, attempt and approach is something many would relate to. What director Abhishek Shah has achieved through the film, cinematically, is phenomenal. His directorial skills and vision to present the film in a strong manner, both subjectively and aesthetically, comes across in every frame, every line and in every emotion expressed in the film. Hellaro is truly the best example of a team work. Despite having a big ensemble cast, the makers achieve what they seek, and the story immerses you completely from the beginning to the end. 

Hellaro has several highlights, which makes it exceptional. The writing of the film is sharp. The subject is relevant and well known, and Abhishek's attempt to weave this with multiple issues, is well layered in the screenplay. The narrative is strong and the makers set the premise quite early and strongly. There are several dialogues which would give you goosebumps, as they strike the right chord, delivering the emotion perfectly. 

The compositions of Hellaro deserve a special mention. Lyrics by Saumya Joshi and music by Mehul Surti is the best I've heard from Gujarati cinema, in a long time. Meaningful words expressing heavy emotions, with the right blend of percussion and music, makes the album special. The album has 4 songs and all four have stark difference, emphasising on the beauty of Gujarati folk music and the form of art. It has emotional, devotional and commercial values. Abhishek has ensured that the songs are well placed in the film, which adds to the emotions and does not hamper the experience.

Casting is to the points and the performances are delivered to the best ability. Each character is sketched with details and  gets the due importance on the screen. Their individual story and struggle is given sufficient time and established well, to make sure the audience relates and feels for them.

Seldom does one come across so much silence in a theatre, and this is after a long time, when the screen was quiet after the film, awestruck with the perfection, the team has showcased with their storytelling and film making efforts.

To sum it up, Hellaro, as a film will move you with he story, subject and performances. It will make a special place in your heart and remain with you for a long time. It is a likable unforgettable experience.  This, coming from a  debutant director, is nothing short of a masterpiece.

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