Starring: John Abraham, Anaitha Nair, Girish Karnad
Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor
Nagesh Kukunoor’s Aashayein has been in the making for a long while and so the biggest fear was that it might look dated. However, that has been taken care of by the cinematographer; it has been shot well enough (with nice play of light and shadow) not to seem passe. What lets it down big time is the content itself.
The film is on the terminally ill; how they come to terms with their mortality and await death. At 35, John makes good enough money from betting on cricket to live happily ever after. But then lung cancer slips in and the writing is clear on the wall—that he has only three months to live. He decides to leave a loving girlfriend and home and heads to an ashram. Rest of the tale is about him and the other inmates and their lives before death.
The inspiration is obviously drawn from the most famous ‘death’ film—Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand. Kukunoor also acknowledges this by incorporating several scenes from it within his own movie. And that actually makes the difference between the two very stark. Subjects like these are obviously manipulative, thrive on wringing out every bit of emotion from within the viewer. In Aashayein, you remain curiously distanced from the protagonist and his tragedy. The whole nation wept buckets with Rajesh Khanna but doesn’t sympathise with John Abraham.
To make things seem more profound, Kukunoor tries to push in a metaphysical angle through an extended dream sequence. It only makes things more complicated and boring. John looks too healthy to be fatally ill. He gains confidence as a performer as he moves through the film but some initial scenes, like the one in the golf course, when he tells his girlfriend that he is not going to opt for chemotherapy, are laughably bad. Farida Jalal looks totally out of place as the AIDS victim in her bright silk saris, in fact the perfectly healthy warden looks more ill in comparison. The one bright spark is Anaitha Nair as the 17-year-old inmate. She is spunky and spontaneous but does tend to get a bit too cute at times. Moreover, her obsession for the much older John raises problematic moral/ethical questions that the film raises but doesn’t dare to provide an answer for.
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Courtesy: Film Information