In the last two decades we haven’t seen many REAL Hindi films talking about the actual realities of life, DEATH in particular, with an insightful vision expressed in its thoughtfully written dialogues featuring a talented cast. Therefore WAITING can easily be called a refreshing film exploring a subject that Hindi cinema has intentionally stayed away from, since here we are actually more concerned about entertaining our viewers instead of enlightening them.
Revolving around only two characters (with a big age difference) and their mutual conversations about life, waiting for their beloveds to get well soon in a hospital, the film has a subject that makes an instant connect with the viewers as we all have faced our own tragedies sitting in that waiting area praying for our loving family members or friends. Coming straight to the point within its first five minutes itself, one finds invested in the two characters on screen and their personal trauma, and then gets pulled in by the meaningful lines they keep delivering one after another like many small precious gems to be taken along.
Personally I really loved the way Naseer explains the various stages of ‘Grief’, the definition of ‘Twitter’ given by Kalki, a senior doctor briefing his new interns and the concerning interaction of both Naseer and Kalki with their doctor individually. Yes at times they do seem to be getting into too much talking, missing the beauty of SILENCE that duly understands the pain felt by the other without saying even a single word. But the way they express their feelings in extremely well written dialogues (coming constantly) doesn’t let you think that way for long and you easily get involved in the proceedings waiting for some positive news.
Having a focused and delightful direction by Anu Menon, WAITING wouldn’t have been possible without Naseeruddin Shah as the old loving husband and Kalki Koechlin as the newly married girl meeting at the hospital lobby. Naseer is truly a delight to watch in his every single scene coming up as a complete natural, with an adorable dignity added to his character of a constant sufferer, not finding the courage to give his permission to take off the ventilator from his wife lying in comma from long. Kalki as the young girl married just a few weeks back, fits perfectly to her given role and successfully delivers an appreciable matured performance in front of an institution called Naseeruddin Shah, which certainly is nothing short of an achievement in itself.
Providing his solid support in short but important role, we have Rajat Kapoor playing the doctor who is (thankfully) more concerned about his patients than the management and additional medical bills. In fact the film gets elevated with every new scene of Rajat Kapoor talking to Naseer or Kakli with an amazing patience and charm infusing a new life into the narration, otherwise walking on a straight, monotonous path. Ratnabali Bhattacharjee brings in some good sarcastic humour as Kalki’s friend believing in ‘positive living’ and Rajiv Rajendranath excels in her short comical role as the office colleague (loved to know his name too reminding me of my favourite comic icon from the past). Plus both Suhasini Maniratnam and Arjun Mathur are just fine playing the patients, emoting well in their few scenes included as the flashbacks.
A visually soothing film, WAITING is far ahead than director Anu Menon’s previous ventures including a fine song high on emotions with apt lyrics as "Tu Hai To Main Hun" expressing the situation well. However the film could have been a rare classic made on a novel subject, if the writer-director had taken care of some crucial points in the script making it more Indian and relatable.
Mentioning the decisive drawbacks, as a Hindi film talking about all Indian characters, its hard to believe the parents of the young boy (struggling for life) not being informed and called in at such a crucial time. Besides it was strange to see English being used as a key language even in the most important scenes of the film, restricting its reach to just a selective set of audience even in the multiplexes. Further avoiding any shocking twists in the second half, Menon actually takes the easier path in the climax ending it on a positive note, whereas the film could have easily been a brutal eye opener focusing on Kalki’s decision representing the changing value system of our crumbling social structure.
Anyway, in spite of these avoidable problems, WAITING still deserves to be seen at the earliest for its novel theme, its key performers and the questions it raises about the right time to let it go leaving the rest on that Supreme Power. So do try to give it a chance, even if it is being shown at a theater far away from your place at some odd timings.
Rating : 3.5 / 5
For friends who are willing to read something beyond a review, this is what I personally feel about the rich backdrop of the film that might force you to think about the changing scenario of our films since the last two decades.
Before the new millennium, Hindi cinema used to make films for just the Indian audiences, for the common man who cannot even think of going anywhere else than the government hospitals. But now since these films are being made keeping an eye on the international market as well as the upper income group of the society able to pay more than 300 Rupees for a ticket, so the common Indian man has simply vanished. And at present, even such realistic issues need to be conveyed focusing on two rich, well off protagonists waiting in the lobby of a state of art five star hospital ignoring the big majority of our Indian population struggling in the government centres.
So now we are making films showing only one side of the coin targeting the multiplex audience, forgetting all about the other darker side representing the lower class of our society, who face no such issue of whether to take off the ventilator or not as they cannot even afford to get a one in their local hospital.
In other words, the tables have actually turned just the opposite, as earlier such thought provoking subjects were showcased focusing on the extreme poor living in the rural areas or slums and now they are purposefully being designed focusing on the higher income group to be seen along with munching the costly popcorns or nachos sitting in the comfortable multiplexes.
Obviously, who will be interested in watching the poor labourers waiting outside the hospital on roads, in a multiplex buying the costly ticket? So the directors have to place their characters as the RICH waiting in a stylized café, staying in posh hotels reaching out to the target audience who again doesn't include anyone called the common man.
So the balance is still missing as always having its own reasons!
(Just a thought from a concerned viewer (and not a reviewer/critic) who is witnessing this drastic change of values in our cinema since last many years)
Do Give It A Thought if possible!