Film: “Waiting”; Director: Anu Menon; Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin, Rajat Kapoor, Arjun Mathur, Rajeev Ravindranathan, Suhasini Maniratanam and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee; Rating: **1/2
Wrapped in a medical drama, and speaking about hope, despondency and frustration, “Waiting” is a slice-of-life tale about – “true love” and “What does it mean?”
Set in south India, the film unfurls the lives of two diametrically opposite people who befriend and comfort each other while waiting for their loved ones to recover in the hospital.
Married for less than a year, Tara Deshpande’s life comes to a grinding halt when her husband Rajat on an official trip to another city meets with an accident and is admitted to the ICU with serious head injuries.
Shaken and alone in the hospital, Tara seeks the company of Shiv Natraj, who is in the hospital nursing his comatose wife, Pankaja, who is in this state for the past eight months.
Their doctor, Nirupam Malhotra gives up hope on Pankaja, but it is Shiv with his never-say-die attitude who fights the doctors to keep his wife alive. On the other hand, while the doctor insists on operating Tara’s husband, she is sceptical about the results. What decisions they take and how they cope, forms the crux of the tale.
The script written by Anu Menon, James Ruzicka and Atika Chohan, have few touching moments but these scenes slide-over as the film is treated in an engagingly frothy manner. The dialogues, mostly in English, by Atika Chohan, are ruthlessly blunt conversations that keeps you hooked.
While the writing effortlessly brings out the fine nuances of the characters caught in the emotional and ethical turmoil, it lacks the intensity of a powerful drama. The plot graph, at times seems forcefully tailored to create ripples, especially Shiv’s track. His confession to his wife was unwarranted and his flashback scenes are tackily handled.
The characters are well-etched and the actors play their parts earnestly. Kalki Koechlin as Tara Deshpande and Naseeruddin Shah as Shiv Natraj, shine in their respective roles displaying a broad spectrum of emotions from serious to comic.
Arjun Mathur as Rajat Deshpande pairs perfectly with Kalki to make an excellent onscreen couple, madly in love with each other. Suhasini Maniratnam as Pankaja, Shiv’s ideal wife of 40 years, is wasted.
The others who leave a mark on screen are; Ratanbali Bhattarcharjee as Tara’s friend Ishita, she keeps mouthing, “have faith, be positive”, Rajat Kapoor as the dispassionate neurosurgeon Nirupam Malhotra who advises his junior, “a little bit of faking helps you do your job better”, and Rajeev Ravindranathan as Girish, Rajat’s office colleague who helps Tara with the required paper work.
On the technical front, with a limited production budget, “Waiting” seems like a moderate film. The visuals captured by Neha Parti Matiyani’s camera are mundane. Her frames make for an ideal television show. The background score by Mikey McCleary is enchanting and it elevates the viewing experience.
Overall, “Waiting” is worth a watch only for the performances.