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Phir Zindagi review: A simple yet profound film about organ donation

Release Date: 05 Dec 2022

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Suyog Zore

Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar's 53-minute movie sheds light on a morally complex and emotionally draining process.

In India, there are several barriers to organ donation such as lack of awareness and superstition, which is a hindrance to saving lives.

The award-winning duo Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar's 53-minute film Phir Zindagi sheds light on the ethically complex, time-consuming and emotionally draining process of organ donation.

Sumitra Bhave (1943–2021): Filmmaker who continued her social work through cinema

The film revolves around Sumedh (Siddharth Menon), a young college student studying in Pune, who gets into a motorcycle accident. While his friend who was with him escapes unscathed as he had worn a helmet, the youth is declared brain dead after being checked by neurosurgeons.

On hearing the news, Sumedh's mother Venu (Ratna Pathak Shah) and his uncle Pradeep (Naseeruddin Shah) rush to the hospital. When Sumedh shows no sign of revival, Dr Aditi Rao (Amruta Subhash), a social worker, suggests something to his maternal uncle Virendra Kashyap (Neeraj Kabi), which shakes him up badly. She seeks his permission to donate Sumedh's healthy organs, which will give hope to many sick patients and a new lease of life.

The short film goes on to lay out all the protocols for receiving an organ from a deceased patient. 

Bhave and Sukthankar use the conversation between the doctor and the patient's relatives to painstakingly answer each and every question about this process. What really stands out is that despite having ample opportunities, the film never moves into the melodramatic territory and still hits you on an emotional level.

Sumitra Bhave: Our films have won several awards, but most Indians haven't seen any of them

The film also tries to answer ethical questions and deals with the subject of how the recipient should be chosen in a sensible manner. Another unique aspect of this short is how it gives us a different perspective on life. It glorifies neither life nor death but teaches you to seek beauty in both and find serenity in acceptance.

The film boasts stellar performances not just from veterans such as Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Neeraj Kabi and Amruta Subhash but also from Siddharth Menon, Parna Pethe and Alok Rajwade. 

Rao asks one really important question to the relatives of the patient and to us, the viewers —  what would you feel about organ donation if you were the recipient instead of the donor?

Phir Zindagi was screened at the 17th Mumbai International Film Festival on 2 June 2022


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