The sea has been providing sustenance to man ever since the dawn of his existence, but legend has it that it can become his grave as well if he doesn’t tread a righteous path. Hawa, the new Bangladeshi film by Mejbaur Rahman Sumon, follows fishermen on their voyage to the sea and the mystery slowly morphs into an atmospheric horror film. I say horror because the utter isolation of the group’s boat in the sea, simmering antagonisms coupled with the mythical supernatural element in the movie, give it that color. There aren’t the usual jump scares in this movie, and the film is definitely a slow burn, but it lures the viewer with its rhythmic tone and mysterious character introduction.
The plot revolves around a group of fishermen, led by the veteran Chan Manjhi, who venture into the sea for fishing, but soon, a woman is trapped in their net. Fearing her to be dead, the fishermen prepare for her disposal, but the woman is alive and will soon start punishing those who wronged her. The innocent ones on the boat are also caught up in the aftermath.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
On a scorching day, a group of men board a boat to go on their regular fishing venture. Their leader is a feared man named Chan Manjhi. The group comprises eclectic individuals, each assigned to various departments. Somebody cooks, somebody draws the fishnet and some others stay in the engine room to take care of the fuel. All of them function on the orders of Manjhi. They respect him, for he isn’t a full-fledged tyrant, and he has a gift for taking the boat right toward the fish. With him, everybody stands a chance to make a profit. Eza is Manjhi’s right-hand man, and for reasons unknown, he cannot stand Iba, the engine master on the boat.
After a huge catch, Iba catches Eza, selling a part of the catch to a pirate during the night. According to him, the fish belonged to everybody on the boat equally. No man has the right to sell the fish from storage. There is a ruckus, and everybody sees the scuffle. Manjhi comes and ends the dispute, siding with Iba for the moment, but even Iba knows that Eza is making the trade with Manjhi’s blessings. Eza wants to finish Iba off, but Manjhi finds a better way to stop him. He calls Nagu, Iba’s regular companion since many trips and manipulates him into believing that Iba has no right to equal shares. Equality should only be for those who catch the fish—someone like Nagu.
Life on the sea is not an easy one. One cannot start to sour every relationship on a whim. Everybody seems to have forgotten about the fight and have focused on catching the fish. More fish meant more profit. Not many on the boat were of Iba’s integrity. The owner of the fishnet and the boat, known as the Mahajon, could not know about the side trade the boat was involved in. Manjhi knew that, which is why he stopped Eza from causing further problems with Iba. If he asked Iba to leave, he could reveal the trade to the Mahajon. Before Manjhi and Eza can come up with a thorough plan to eliminate Iba, a woman gets caught in the fishnet and is pulled on board.
Why Doesn’t Manjhi Get Rid Of The Woman?
At first, everybody was shocked. They speculate that the woman might have been murdered, and now the body has turned up near their boat. Nagu, high on drugs, sees the body, and instead of seeing a woman, he sees a beautiful fish. Everybody laughs at his hallucinations, but when he says the woman is alive, they do take another look at her and, indeed, find her breathing. It is a miracle, but the veterans also know that legend says that having women on board is a bad omen. Manjhi has to make the call to get rid of her soon.
The all-male crew suddenly finds its spirits lifted by having a beautiful young woman on board. Manjhi and the others try to make her reveal how she nearly drowned in the sea, but the woman seems to be mute. She is happy to stay on board and do the chores like washing and cooking. Eza discusses with Manjhi the ways he can send the woman back to shore. If any other boat saw a woman on their boat, all hell would break loose. Manjhi understands, but his lust seems to be overpowering him. In front of him was a young, beautiful, and mute woman. Nagu, too, seemed to be in favor of letting the girl stay. On the pretext that it was risky to send her on somebody else’s boat, Manjhi decides to let the girl stay.
Why Can’t They Catch The Fish?
News reached Manjhi that a fellow crew member caught so much fish that their entire storage got fully stacked. Manjhi is a little shocked to hear this. His intuition had never failed him, yet here he was failing to find a good spot for fishing while others were filling their entire container. The side business of trading fish to pirates seemed like a distant dream. On top of it, Eza wanted to get rid of Iba. Problems were mounting on Manjhi’s head. He uses his intuition and decides to move away from the rest of the nearby boats in order to hit the jackpot.
On his way, he meets the successful crew, who are returning to shore after having full storage. They all mingle together, and Manjhi tries to satiate his lust while everybody is busy partying on the other boat. The woman, appearing to be a docile and mute person, resists Manjhi’s forceful advances, and it begins to dawn on us that she is no ordinary woman. Nagu, too, gropes her and tries to force himself upon her, but he fails as well. The atmosphere on the boat starts to become stuffy, and Manjhi begins acting like a tyrant. The storage was getting empty as the crew kept using the fish for their daily sustenance, and tensions started rising when Manjhi decided to move further out into the sea. Iba notices Manjhi’s changing attitude toward the woman, approaches her in the night, and finds out that she can speak and that her name is Gulti.
Why Did Gulti End Up On Manjhi’s Boat?
Ever since Iba found out that the mysterious woman could speak and was hiding her true identity, he has been perplexed by her behavior. He grows fascinated, and each night, they both start to meet away from the others. When he asks her about her purpose, Gulti reveals that her sole mission is to sink Manjhi’s boat. Seven years ago, Manjhi and his pirate crew killed Gulti’s father, who had simply refused to give them liquor. He was innocent and didn’t have any liquor on board, yet, Manjhi killed her father. Iba had no idea that Manjhi was such an evil man, and Eza and Mora were possibly involved in Manjhi’s pirate crew that he ran seven years ago.
Eza had been in the mood to get rid of Iba since the beginning when he accompanied Nagu in the engine room. When Manjhi catches Iba and Gulti during their secret meeting, he decides to throw her off-board because he realizes that all the mishaps on the boat, such as not being able to catch the fish or ending up with a broken engine, were because of the black magic being done by Gulti. He doesn’t realize she is the daughter of the serpent he killed seven years ago. She possessed the magic of the Viper Goddess and was looking for a way to kill him in the most vicious way possible, but before she could find a way to spare the innocents from her wrath, she was caught.
In a terrifying sequence of events, Iba defends Gulti but is attacked by Eza. Iba stabs him, and seeing his right-hand man stabbed, Manjhi kills Iba. There is a chilling effect of this incident on the others. Nobody expected Manjhi to kill him. His next victim was to be Gulti, but she used her magic to make herself invisible. Soon, everybody starts to go mad, like a fever being spread around the sea taking over the men. Mora falls from the mast with a sickle buried in his head. Parkes, Urkes’s brother, starts to see the coast guard ship on the horizon and jumps into the sea to catch up with it. The ship is seen by no one else, possibly because they were under Gulti’s magic spell. Parkes possibly survived, or maybe he too perished, unable to reach the ship, which may have been just his hallucination. A mutiny starts against Manjhi and his decision to have the boat taken so far away from the shore. They were left with no water and little food. The dead bodies were beginning to rot, and nobody was willing to touch them, fearing a curse. Eza, nearing his death, starts to empower the mutiny by revealing to others that Manjhi has gone mad as he couldn’t satiate his lust and will endanger others’ lives for his own purpose. Urkes realizes the only way to stop Gulti from haunting the boat is to get rid of Manjhi. When Urkes tries to grab Manjhi, he stabs Urkes dead and runs after Nagu. At last, Gulti appears in the form of a viper and kills Nagu and Manjhi when they try to throw Iba’s corpse into the sea. Only Iba understood her, and even though she didn’t want him to be collateral damage in her mission, her fate ensured that she could only embrace his corpse and cry for her loss. The viper turns back to Gulti, and the events on the boat become an inseparable part of the mysterious sea that has similar dark secrets hidden in its bosom.