At first blush, the plot premise of Hawaa Hawaai may sound unpromising and hackneyed.
But the film has just enough wind in its sails to make it across the finish line with some effort to spare.
To put it in one line, the film is about a luckless Dharavi boy who surmounts a mountain of hurdles to realize an unlikely dream kindled and nurtured by a skating coach.
Writer-director Amole Gupte employs the standard tropes of a triumph-of-the-underdog tale to deliver a warm, sensitive and rousing slice-of-life drama.
The young boy whose story Hawaa Hawaai is, as well as the four street children who stand by him come hell or high tide, are completely believable and affecting characters that grow on the audience as the film gets into its stride.
Like he had done so effectively in Stanley Ka Dabba, Gupte works with a talented group of children and allows them to give free rein to their infectious exuberance and innocence.
Hawaa Hawaai isn't however only about children, nor is it meant only for that segment of the audience.
It is simple but not simplistic. It critiques the way the dispossessed are viewed and treated in this country, but does so in a manner that is elegantly laconic and subtle.
Hawaa Hawaai isn't an average sports film either. It is a multi-layered commentary on contemporary urban society.
Gupte's empathy is obviously with those that are condemned by grinding poverty to wage a daily battle for survival on the streets of the big city. But Hawaa Hawaai is shorn of bitterness, rancour and pity.
It celebrates the heroic resilience of the downtrodden without resorting to the kind of falsely optimistic triumphalism that is commonplace in the run-of-the-mill Hindi films.
Even when the young protagonist wins the first big race of his life, one knows that the victory is by no means the end of his struggles.
It is at best only one small step out of the deep trough into which life has dumped him.
But there is no dearth of hope in the universe that Gupte creates because the human spirit here is indomitable and no matter what fate throws at the boy, he is endowed with child-like resolve.
Hawaa Hawaai is infused with positive energy, which leaps out of the screen with gentle force.
The film hinges on the exploits of Arjun Waghmare (Partho Gupte), the affable but spirited son of a dead cotton farmer and a housemaid.
To supplement his family's meagre income, the boy works in a tea shop near a skating rink.
He watches children his age training with a skating coach, Aniket Bhargava (Saqib Saleem). He develops a fascination for the sport.
Arjun does not have the means to buy a pair of skates, so he and his pals have to resort to unconventional methods in order to put in the rink and on the fast lane.
Hawaa Hawaai invokes the myth of Dronacharya and Eklavya. The person of Arjun Waghmare also bears resemblance, if only in passing, to Jamal Malik, the tea boy of Slumdog Millionaire.
His isn't however a rags to riches story scripted by a series of strokes of luck on a game show. Arjun's battle is far more real than Jamal's, and just as fraught.
Every little emotion that Gupte factors into the Hawaa Hawaai narrative rings absolutely true and strikes an instant chord.
The film addresses a range of serious themes. But it articulates its concerns without resorting to any overly dramatic flag-waving.
Hawaa Hawaai touches upon urban poverty, the class divide, the plight of farmers, the challenges before those in charge of potential sporting champions, and the inevitable disconnect between ambition and opportunity among those that aren't born lucky.
The top-notch editing by Deepa Bhatia helps Gupte weave the back stories of the characters into the narrative without ever having to hold up the flow of the story.
Partho Gupte brings out the inner turmoil and the struggle of Arjun just as effortlessly as he played Stanley in his first film.
The director also extracts outstanding performances from the four boys cast as Arjun's friends - Salman Khan, Maaman Memon, Thirupathi Kushnapelli and Ashfaque Khan.
Saqib Saleem, too, deserves applause for the skill with which he etches out a skating guru who realizes that the lessons he imbibes from his most naturally gifted ward far outweigh the ones he imparts to him.
Don't expect cheap thrills Hawaa Hawaai. It proffers none. But if it is genuine entertainment that you are looking for, your search ends here.