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ApunKaChoice » Article » Aashayein - Movie Review

Aashayein - Movie Review

Flaps but never soars
By Aparajita Ghosh
Fri, Aug 27, 2010 13:28:15 GMT

That sublime theme of living life to the fullest even if there isn’t much time left to live finds a retelling in Nagesh Kukunoor’s somewhat good to middling tale of a compulsive gambler and chain smoker who discovers the secret to a happy life while counting down his last days to death. Aashayein, a bit delayed and staid, isn’t intended as a tear-jerker for kerchief-friendly audiences. It’s rather a subtle, slow, laidback cinematic experience that tugs at your heart now and then and leaves you in a state of sweet melancholy.

Rahul (John Abraham), a reckless gambler who can put all his life’s earnings at stake in a single bet, would not have been what he’s if not for his loving, caring, doting girlfriend Nafisa (Sonal Sehgal). But life plays a cruel joke when he’s diagnosed with lung cancer and told that he’s got only three months left to live.

With his days numbered, Rahul gives a lion’s share of his gambling wins to his girlfriend, who actually wants to stick by him until the inevitable end, and goes all by himself to live in a hospice at a scenic location next to a beach. There, at the hospice, he meets an assorted bunch of terminally ill characters, racing against time like him, who change Rahul’s perspective on life and how it ought to be lived.

Girish Karnad, a regular in Kukunoor’s films plays an elderly who’s lost his speech; Farida Jalal somewhat overplays her character of a high class ex prostitute who’s now HIV positive and therefore shunned by many at the hospice for fear of contracting the deadly virus. Anaitha Nair pitches in a terrific performance as a cancer-stricken teen who has the hots for Rahul. And there’s also the child artiste Ashwin Chitale playing a spirited character full of life’s wisdoms too early for his age.

John throws himself completely into his character and delivers a performance worth noting. But is it his best? We doubt. Sonal Sehgal shows the promise of a good actress in her.

Aashayein has a number of poignant moments, including one in which John and Anaitha are shown watching Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film Anand, that moving ode to the spirit of living to the fullest from a protagonist facing death. The reference obviously has a resonance with the film’s theme, but Kukunoor wisely abstains from cashing on it for a lump-in-the-throat moment.

There’s also a fantasy sequence in which John, a fan of Indiana Jones, dresses up as the adventurer - with fedora, whip and khakis et al. The sequence stands out as a blur between the protagonist’s dream and reality.

Aashayein has more such engaging instances, but the film unspools at a pace that may be a tad too slow for many audiences. There’s no in-your-face melodrama, no mawkish sentimentality; just subdued interplay of emotions as the protagonist learns some important lessons of life from the dying.

Watch it only if you have a taste for slow, pensive, understated cinema.

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
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