Tuesday, June 07, 2016

23. Waiting

What would you do if your significant other was on life support and there was no chance of recovery?
What would you if there was some chance of recovery but you had run out of money?
What if the chance of recovery was higher but there was commensurate of him/her turning into a vegetable?
Waiting asks some of these difficult questions and, instead of answering them, makes comments on modern day relationships, love, friendship and reactions. And also asks that most difficult question: "What is Twitter?"

The devout and the atheist
Naseeruddin Shah is brilliant (yawn... what's new?) as the husband who's waiting for his wife (played by Suhasini Mani Ratnam) of forty years to come out of a coma. Kalki Koechlin also puts in a good performance as the newly married wife, steeling herself for a long wait for her husband to recover from a disastrous road accident. Together, they form an endearingly odd couple whose philosophies towards life are radically different and yet, they are bound by a common fear, in a tight space. (One minor quibble: Wasn't Kalki Koechlin over made-up all through?)
The supporting cast consists of some very fine performances. Rajat Kapoor, by now, has made a name for himself as the handsome antagonist. What started as the perverted uncle (Monsoon Wedding) has become even better - subdued yet effective - in this film, where he plays the doctor who is trying to make his patients see reason while they are on an emotional roller-coaster.
Rajeev Ravindranathan (Rama of English Vinglish) plays a comic bit-part and looks to be well on his way to becoming a regular as the bumbling colleague in Hindi cinema.
After a patchy debut (London Paris New York), Anu Menon makes a strong impression with her assured direction in a story where very little happens but the interest levels never drop.

Waiting reminded me of Rituparno Ghosh's Dosar, where a husband was in a near-fatal accident which killed his lover and his wife had to nurse him back to health, while being disgusted by his infidelity. For a brief sequence, Waiting hinted at a similar plot before swerving off in another direction. Both films - excellent ones - were masterful explorations of the modern Indian psyche by asking very uncomfortable questions.

Do you want your ailing husband to die?
Because he is in pain? Or because you hate that he cheated on you? Or because you don't want to spend the rest of your life taking care of him?
Why do you want your wife to live?
Because you love her? Or because you need her to take care of you?

[Frivolous Footnote: As Naseeruddin Shah read PG Wodehouse to his comatose wife, Kalki read James Dashner. The former doesn't need any introduction while the latter writes speculative fiction for young adults. An interesting contrast between the two sets of characters.]

[Frivolous Footnote 2: SPOILER ALERT
In one scene, Naseer confesses to his wife about an one night stand he had thirty years ago. Knowing Naseer's penchant of playing fathers to illegitimate offspring, I wondered if Kalki or her husband could be his progeny. Manmohan Desai has scarred me for life!

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