You've Heard Songs About Waiting For The Beloved,
Now Watch It On Film...
2 and ½ stars
What happens when two strangers who meet because their loved ones are in the hospital and they’re waiting for news of their health? The need for human understanding, how you connect with the hospital staff, the madness of reading up on the disease… It’s all there. Human and real and funny and serious.
Yes, it’s a film made for the festival circuit. So it does have a certain sense of tragedy about it, but yet it affirms humanity in the midst of the clinical ‘You have raise your eyebrow in concern, but lie, say we are waiting for lab reports, or that the next 48 hours are crucial’...
Naseeruddin Shah makes up for all his awful roles in movies like Sona Spa by essaying the role of Professor Shiv Natraj whose wife (Suhasini Maniratnam) is in the hospital and he is waiting for the doctors to tell him that she will be okay. You see his familiarity with hospital routine, the staff knows him as well, and you like his optimism.
Kalki Koechlin on the other hand flies in Bombay, is young and brash and annoyed because she is not getting any answers. The two strangers meet and while they learn from each other, the audience also learns how to learn with a gamut of emotions that come to a caregiver at the hospital. As Naseeruddin Shah puts it in the movie, ‘Then you become zen like me’
The ethical questions that are raised are very very universal. Who decides what is quality of life? Do caregivers have the capability of making the choice for the patients? When do you turn off a ventilator - when the money runs out, or when hope does?
The second half seems to stagnate a bit, with never-ending and repeated flashbacks. I hated Naseer confessing to being guilty of cheating on wife part simply because it brought back needless reference to Masoom. Also, the lad who plays the part of Kalki's husband simply annoys me by his screen presence and that's a wholly personal thing, but the story stays true to the premise. And it’s a good thing.
The two characters are so different to each other, their interaction teaches us so much about ourselves. The supporting cast - the irritatingly ‘stay positive’ girlfriend, the concerned office colleague who cares but is socially awkward, the doctor who seems very detached from his patients, the neighbor who sends food, family members who don’t understand - are all so wonderful you nod your head in the darkness of the theater when you watch them on screen. You know people who are exactly that. You understand the frustration of the lead character Kalki who says, ‘I have thousands of followers on Twitter and hundreds of friends on Facebook, but I am here alone.’
This may not earn hundreds of crores on the box office. But it charms you with its quiet elegance.
(This review sans the personal comments in para 5, appears on www.nowrunning.com )