Drishyam Films and Ishka Films’ Waiting (A) is the story of two strangers whose bond of friendship develops in the most unlikely place, the hospital.
Shiv’s (Naseeruddin Shah) wife, Pankaja (Suhasini Maniratnam), has been comatose since eight months in a hospital in Kochi. But the loving husband that he is, he hasn’t given up hope. She is on life-support system and although Dr. Nirupam (Rajat Kapoor) keeps advising him to give the hospital permission to stop the life-support system as her chances of survival are almost nil, Shiv is not ready to budge. He is convinced that a surgery can cure her but, he feels, the doctor won’t operate on her as she is old and he (doctor) isn’t keen to give an old lady a fresh lease of life. Shiv has no option but to wait and hope for a miracle to happen.
Tara (Kalki Koechlin) comes to the same hospital in Kochi because her husband, Rajat (Arjun Mathur), had been admitted there after a serious road accident in which his brain had been damaged. Tara, who flies in from another city on getting the news, is devastated that Rajat has slipped into a coma. There is little Tara can do but wait for her husband’s recovery, that is, if at all.
Shiv and Tara, belonging to different generations, strike up a friendship in the hospital. They soon become so close to each other that they spend a lot of time with one another, chatting, joking, dancing, arguing, advising/seeking advice and even fighting once.
What happens ultimately? Does Pankaja undergo surgery? Is Rajat’s brain operated upon?
Anu Menon and James Ruzicka have written a heartfelt story which is quite unusual. Although set against the backdrop of a hospital, the story is far from depressing. In fact, the humour that emanates from the friendship between Shiv and Tara and also from the interactions in the hospital and out- side, between the various characters, keeps the audience smiling at many places and also laughing occasionally. Of course, by the very nature of the story and the single track on which it moves, the film is meant only and only for a thin segment of the audience which frequents the very high-end multiplexes in the very big cities. The screenplay, written by the duo, is both, interesting and engaging but again, only for the limited audience. Masses, non-city audiences and single-screen viewers will not find the story and the screenplay interesting at all. In fact, the majority of the audience will get bored due to the singular track of the drama. Also, since it is a slice-of-life film, that too, to which everyone can’t relate, the majority of the viewers will wonder what’s happening on the screen as the slow-moving drama unfolds. The ending is unusual and although it is appropriate, it will leave the audience with an empty feeling which is not good from the commercial point of view.
Atika Chohan’s dialogues, with colourful language used liberally by Tara, are superb and very, very real.
Naseeruddin Shah lives the role of Shiv and performs brilliantly. It is sheer fun to see him play the character of the doting husband and the experienced friend. As Tara, Kalki Koechlin is outstanding. She shines as a modern young girl who speaks her heart out without inhibitions. Her easy use of four-letter words makes her character very believable. Together, Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin are extraordinary, complementing each other just too beautifully. Rajat Kapoor is lovely as Dr. Nirupam. His performance is praiseworthy. Rajeev Ravindranathan is superb as Rajat’s colleague, Girish. Ratnabali Bhattacharjee leaves a sure mark in the role of Ishita. Krishnasankar has his moments as Dr. Ravi, the junior doctor. Suhasini Maniratnam (as Pankaja) and Arjun Mathur (as Rajat) are both endearing in guest appearances. Nandini Nair (as nurse Ann), Marin Babu (as nurse Prema), Dinesh Prabhakar (as the doctor on night duty, Dr. Vishwanath), Tanvir (as Ishita’s husband), Anjali Khurana (as Pinky, Ishita’s friend), Sahil Gambhir (as Pinky’s husband, Vinay), Ashish Bhatia (as Tara’s co-worker, Kaushal), Gavin Methalaka (as Tara’s co-worker, Lokesh), Chirag Dave (as messenger Bharat), Shilpa Sunil (as Indira, maid of Shiv’s neighbour), Jennifer Anthony (as Shiv’s neighbour, Nalini), Sujina Sreedharan (as ward clerk Smita), Gopan R. Nair (as the bank manager) and the rest lend excellent support.
Anu Menon’s direction is sensitive, as required. Credit to the director for keeping the drama humorous and positive despite the morose backdrop. But it must also be added that her narrative style would be understood by the elite audience only. Mikey McCleary’s music is well-suited to the drama and is class-appealing. The ‘Zara zara’ song is nice. Lyrics (by Manoj Muntashir, Mikey McCleary, Kalki Koechlin and Ankur Tewari) are appropriate. Shampa Gopikrishna’s choreography is functional. Neha Parti Matiyani’s camerawork is good. Prajakta Ghate’s production designing and Shiji Pattnam’s art direction are fine. Editing (by Nitin Baid and Apurva Asrani) is sharp.
On the whole, Waiting is not a universally-appealing film and although it will win accolades and acclaim for its unique story, great performances, and beautiful narration, it will not get any box-office rewards whatsoever.