Mumbai, 14 Feb 2020 12:07 IST
The only positive here is the natural chemistry between veterans Ashok Saraf and Padmini Kolhapure.
The concept of an aged couple nearing death and looking back at life offers plenty of scope for an emotional saga. We have witnessed this in films like Saaransh (1984, Hindi), Viruddh (2005, Hindi), Pailteer (2006) and Jetaa (2010). Despite the theme being the same, the stories of these films were very different from one another.
Director Shashank Udapurkar’s Prawaas is also about an aged couple, played by Ashok Saraf and Padmini Kolhapure, but it also explores a novel subject.
The film works at the conceptual level. Senior citizens Abhijat Inamdar (Saraf) and Lata (Kolhapure) have been staying alone in Mumbai for the past few years after their son (Udapurkar) started working abroad. Abhijat came to the city as a young man, found a job, got married and had a child, which is the case with most ordinary citizens.
But he starts questioning his entire life journey when his health takes a bad turn after both his kidneys fail. He is required to undergo dialysis twice a week. Now Abhijat starts feeling that he hasn’t achieved anything special in life to remember him by once he is gone. There was a time when he wanted to become an actor but he could not pursue that dream because of family responsibilities.
One day, Abhijat gets encouragement from a spiritual guru-cum-classical singer (Rajit Kapur) that all is not lost and he should make the most of whatever time is left for him.
The thought of making the most of life itself is appealing not just for senior citizens but also for others. In fact, we do come across people even in their 20s and 30s who wonder what they are doing with life. Hence, Abhijat’s state of mind is relatable to anyone. That's why Prawaas works well at the conceptual level.
Unfortunately, that is the only level the film works at. In an attempt to put forth the point and give a positive message, the narrative is laced with unconvincing or questionable turns of events throughout its duration of 133 minutes.
A simple conflict that could have been solved easily is stretched for miles. When Abhijat decides to start a free ambulance service, Lata opposes the idea as she does not want him driving at his age and in his health condition. The problem could have been resolved by the simple expedient of hiring a driver as Abhijat and Lata are well off. They ultimately decide to do that, but after wasting almost an hour of the film's runtime. And this is just one example.
Prawaas also falters when it comes to the dialogues. The film bombards us with too many messages. That’s not a problem because the messages are indeed important. The issue is that the way they are conveyed is preachy.
The background music department also seems to believe, strangely, that it is necessary to play loud music to make a situation appear dramatic. The songs offer some respite, especially the two versions of the title track sung by Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal with Salim-Sulaiman's music.
We all know how competent both Ashok Saraf and Padmini Kolhapure are. On top of that, their pairing comes across as natural here and their performance does affect you on numerous occasions. But there are also times when they try too hard to evoke an effect.
This goes for Udapurkar, too. You also can’t miss the overacting of the other members of the cast, especially the junior artistes. A brilliant actor like Vikram Gokhale suffers because of a weak character graph.
But in all this, there is a major portion before the climax that leaves you in splits, completely unintentionally. So we have Shreyas Talpade, who plays a superstar. At one point he speaks a mixture of Punjabi, Marathi and Hindi combined in a serious scene. This part needs to be seen in isolation in the future whenever a person is feeling low.
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