Haami 2 gives a reality check on TV reality shows
Despite some over-the-top melodrama and plot points that clearly play to the gallery, Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy’s Haami 2, which brings back the much-loved couple Laltu (Shiboprosad) and Mitali (Gargee Roy Chowdhury), manages to tug at your heartstrings, leaving you with a warm glow as the end credits roll.
Story of a wonder kid
Laltu and Mitali are parents of two little boys — Bhepu (Ritodeep Sengupta) and Chinu (Shreyan Saha). Bhepu is a ‘wonder kid’ who can solve difficult maths problems without batting an eyelid. He is a geek who watches infotainment videos on his tablet. His younger brother, Chinu, carefree and playful, is his constant companion. When a video of Bhepu displaying his talent goes viral, he is wooed by channels to join their reality shows for children. The peaceful life of the Mondals goes for a toss when Bhepu becomes a reality TV star.
Reality of reality shows
Shiboprosad and Nandita have put reality shows, specially the ones involving kids, under the scanner in Haami 2. The young boys and girls are put through rigorous shooting schedules, which takes a heavy toll on their mental and physical health. Attending schools regularly is also out of the question; their education suffers as a result. The director duo give a reality check to parents: is it ethical to put young children through such a gruelling routine?
The parent trap
The dramedy points out how parents often burden their children with their skyrocketing expectations. Laltu works as a sales manager at a hardware store with a paltry monthly income. When opportunity beckons for the family to earn in lakhs, courtesy of their elder son, Mitali, who aspires for a better lifestyle, laps it up. In her eagerness to ensure that Bhepu emerges as the winner of the reality show, Mitali neglects her other son. Bhepu’s success and the praise he receives from all and sundry make Chinu question his own intelligence, delivering a deadly blow to his self-confidence.
There’s also a sub-plot revolving around the craze for English-medium schools among parents, which has resulted in the closure of Bengali-medium schools in the city. Anjan Dutt plays a senior librarian who is ruefully counting the days till the library shuts shop. This promising storyline remained underexplored.
Impressive performance by the cast
Shiboprosad hits the ball out of the park in his third outing as the stereotypical Bengali — Laltu Mondal. Gargee is impressive as the ambitious mother who uses her children as the means to fulfil her aspirations. In his brief stint as the librarian, Anjan Dutt makes a strong impact. His monologue on the difference between a wonder kid and a genius is one of the finest moments in the film. Prosenjit Chatterjee has a captivating screen presence as the host of the reality show.
The film, however, rightfully belongs to the child artists. Ritodeep Sengupta fits the character of a geeky kid and Aritrika Chowdhuri plays her part well as Bhepu’s main competitor, Rukhsana. But it is Shreyan Saha who charms the viewers as the neglected younger brother. He portrays the loneliness, jealousy and the subsequent inferiority complex with the maturity of a seasoned actor.