Mayank Shekhar's Review: Aashayein

By Hindustan Times

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

Actors: John Abraham, Anaitha Nair

Rating: *1/2

"Hum log bhi zaadatar aam logon ke jaise hi dikhte hain (We mostly look like common people too)," explains a poor, old prostitute (Farida Jalal), almost looking into the camera. You heart's supposed to melt at that profound appeal from her community. Apparently.

This reasonably healthy woman, diagnosed with AIDS, is a social pariah even among the terminally ill. Fellows around switch chairs at her presence. A perfectly educated, "M.Com, MBA" (Girish Karnad) believes her touch could spread the deadly disease. Others with literally few days left to go themselves feel the same.

AashayeinThe hero of this film's checks himself into a super posh hospice, a home for intensive palliative care. The film takes us through an extended, guided tour of this house of death. Where waiting lists multiply, but the charity home restricts its patients to 50 only. Each day could offer a newly vacant spot but.

A warden here suggests, "The difference between us and the terminally ill is the latter can see death coming. We can't. Death is certain, either way." Live for the moment, I guess.

The camera pans then on to the pained eyes of a woman suffering for long on life-support. She pleads the nurse. The nurse pulls the plug. You're supposed to gasp. Well.

Scenes after another, whether long lessons on karma or carpe diem, make for a bunch of similarly banal misses between outcome and intent.

Given the picture's purpose itself leaves very little room for doubt. An audience's pre-knowledge that the characters before the screen will eventually degenerate into vegetables make for instant sympathy. Destiny is not even on the hero's side. Everyone smiles still. Your eyes must wet. Movie manipulation is complete. Alas.

While the filmmakers figured their supposedly perfect setting out, a story didn't follow. Or it did. A part of it is fair endorsement for the Make A Wish Foundation. The hero sets out fulfill one last wish on each inmate's bucket list. A rock show follows several vodka shots. You could do with some of the latter to figure if the rest of the movie is more macabre or moronic.

A millionaire hunk befriends a giggly 17-year-old who wants to bed him before she dies. That cinematic threat looms large right through the film. Both suffer from diseases with names "more complicated than lymphosucoma of the intestine."

John's the bachelor hunk. The film preaches 'no smoking'. He makes love to the cigarette while his lungs die. A miracle child next-door offers him outlet into his childhood dreams. He secretly auditions for Indiana Jones And Raiders Of The Lost Ark in his sleep! The minor girl waits around for the slurpy kiss still. No, please!

Most of us have little choice but to stoically make light of death. This death-wish turns instantly into a barrel of laughs; all of it unintended, of course. Eventually you may like to sing, 'Gimme hope John? Naah!'

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