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Waiting  : Humour Outside The ICU
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Friday, May 27, 2016
Drama
Anu Menon
Kalki Koechlin, Naseeruddin Shah

Silver-haired Shiv and slender-young Tara who’s still basking in a honeymoon mood, have only one thing to bind them: each has a loved one in a coma in the ICU.

 

Shiv has settled down to such a familiar routine in the state-of-the-art hospital in Cochin that Tara even mistakes him for a doctor. Pankaja, the love of Shiv’s life, has been on life support for over eight months. Tara has air-dashed from Mumbai after her husband Rajat, who was in Cochin on work, met with a near-fatal car accident which has critically damaged his brain.

 

Shiv won’t give up on his wife but there’s gravitas in his zen-like demeanour. Tara is still immature in her relationships, ready to yell her way around and free with her effs and abuses that rhyme with bricks. She sports blue nails and talks of menstrual blood which seems to be the new mantra for feminism. Shiv doesn’t even know what twitter means.

 

Director Anu Menon takes the heart-tugging subject of waiting outside an ICU and spins a surprisingly warm film without creating an atmosphere of gloom and doom. In fact there’s a lot of wit and friendship built on a bed of emotions where disturbing decisions must be taken.

 

While Shiv’s 40-year marriage to Pankaja and the Tara-Rajat honeymoon mood require to be told in flashbacks, Anu steers clear of having memories cropping up at stock moments. Like when Tara touches Rajat’s watch or shirt, there’s no instant flashback on how he wore those personal items. Instead, there’s a silent scene of Tara wearing his belongings to feel his closeness which is much more real and endearing.

 

It’s a piquantly contrasting situation where Shiv can’t accept that the doctors won’t operate on Pankaja and instead urge him to them turn off the ventilator. On the other hand, does Tara want to take the risk of brain surgery that might leave her robust, health-conscious husband in a vegetable-like state?

 

These are moments that your family or mine may have to encounter someday and they make a deep connect. But the appeal will be restricted to an English-speaking multiplex audience.

 

The screenplay lets relationships grow naturally including the delicate equation between doctor and patient. There are fine directorial touches like a companionable night of drunkenness and dancing and a neighbour who means well. The free-flowing narrative is made possible by extremely believable performances from Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin who matches him shot for shot. Rajat Kapoor as Dr Nirupam Malhotra who has to take unemotional pragmatic decisions while he provides the healing touch, adds suave credibility to the hospital ambience. Suhasini Maniratnam playing Pankaja and Arjun Mathur as Rajat infuse tenderness in the two inter-regional love marriages.     

 

For a slice-of-life story told with sensitivity and a sense of fun, Waiting gets a 3* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Columnist & Author

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