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Review: Naseer-Kalki's Waiting is a heartwarming saga

The film starring Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin is ideal for lovers of content-orientated cinema.

Keyur Seta

Keyur Seta

Film: Waiting (U/A)
Director: Anu Menon
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin, Rajat Kapoor, Suhasini Maniratnam, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee
Rating: 4/5

If an ‘art film’ is one that depends on the artistic skills of those involved, Anu Menon’s Waiting is a true representative of the genre. It is a heart-warming saga revolving around the crazy concept called ‘life’. It’s an example of how a content-based indie film should be. 

Waiting takes place inside the waiting room of a hospital. Shiv (Shah) and Tara (Koechlin) are waiting at a Cochin hospital. Shiv’s wife and Tara’s husband are battling for their lives. Both are in a state of coma. The similarity of their situation draws the two individuals from different generations closer and a strange bond develops. But will the condition of their respective spouses eventually improve?

The film is driven more by situations than by story. So, it makes the task of the writer and director all the more challenging. As these two areas are sorted, the film sails through without hiccups or dull moments. The conversations between Shiv and Tara are a delight. They move you as well as get you into splits, all the while keeping you engaged. And, like most intelligently made films, Waiting says a lot without saying much. 

Waiting brings back memories of Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s underrated gem, Staying Alive, which showcased an unlikely bond between two patients, who had just experienced a heart attack. Thankfully, the similarities end there.

The only weak link here is the behaviour of both characters which is questionable on a few occasions. Unfortunately, it is not possible to delve deeper into this aspect without giving out spoilers.

Coming to the technicalities, the subject does not allow the director of photography to be more creative. But despite that, Neha Parti Matiyani makes her presence felt. Perhaps, the hand-held camera could have been used more though. The minimal background score and simple editing goes with the subject.

Yet again we see Shah’s mastery of the art of acting. It is a pleasure and an education to watch him go through a range of emotions. One moment he cracks you up with his wit; in the very next, he melts your heart with his helplessness. Matching up to such a stalwart requires a herculean effort, but Koechlin pulls it off. She is completely believable as a modern atheist who, despite being down in the dumps emotionally, doesn’t shy away from pulling Shah’s leg. 

From the meagre supporting lot, Rajat Kapoor is reliable, although he is slowly getting stereotyped as the typical modern middle-aged man. Ratnabali Bhattacharjee and Suhasini Maniratnam are adequate in their supporting acts. Arjun Mathur gets noticed despite a small cameo.

On the whole, Waiting is a small film with a big heart, ideally suited for lovers of sensible cinema. Owing to the genre and the limited reach, however, it may have a tough time at the box office.