The young in India have it very different from those a couple of generations ago. The latter had little money when they started their adult life and were prepared for a life of limited means. Many, in fact sent money home, to ease the burden of their elders. Their life taught them patience, resilience and a respect for people for what they were. The younger generation on the other hand, starts off from a position of means and the expectation that their life will be fairly secure in the future, too. Add to that a new dimension of constant and instant virtual communication where one could be friends with hundreds and thousands without forming a personal bond with a single individual. Do the youngsters today have the maturity and resilience to face travesties of life? Are they living for instant gratification with little patience to strive for anything for long?
On one of the spectrum is Shiv Natraj (Naseeruddin Shah) who has been waiting for his wife of 40 years, Pankaja (Suhasini Maniratnam) to regain consciousness. Pankaja has been in coma since the last eight months and doctors do not have much hope of her improving. He is keen to have her operated upon in the hope that she will get better. His life is unremarkable and he follows a set routine day after day.
On the other is Tara (Kalki Koechlin), a recently married woman whose husband meets with a morbid accident and is admitted to the same Kochi hospital as Shiv’s wife. The doctors have suggested operation for him, but Tara is skeptical if her husband will ever be the same after the operation.
Thrown together in a common place facing similar situations, these two characters bond. Mostly to realize how different they are. While Shiv is serene, patient and hopeful, Tara is temperamental, given to rants and cussing. She has a difficult time accepting the fate that has befallen her. With the backdrop of tragedy, the film could have easily degenerated to a melodramatic tear jerker. Director Anu Menon has ensured that the film remains subtle, a rare feat for a Bollywood film.
There are some downsides. Some parts appear clichéd, and sometimes the film becomes too verbose. Naseer has got a role worthy of his abilities after a long time, and like always, he delivers. His ability to rapidly move from one end of the emotional continuum to the other effortlessly is remarkable. Kalki is excellent, she doesn’t need words to convey feelings. It is to the actors’ credit that they are able to keep the viewers engaged even when they are simply talking on the screen, no mean feat that. Rest of the cast including Rajat Kapoor, Arjun Mathur and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee are good.
Waiting is a simple story about how life can change permanently in an instant. We have to learn to accept the present and go beyond it to find the positive in life. It is also a remark on the shallow nature of virtual friends who can be there to follow or like our trivial posts yet we are all alone when we need them in the real world.
Film Poster: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49529227
Rating : 4/5
Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin, Rajat Kapoor, Suhasini Maniratnam, Arjun Mathur and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee
Director: Anu Menon