Despite being based on an incredibly heartwarming real-life story, the Anirban Bose directorial has baffling logic and shallow characterisation

Despite being based on an incredibly heartwarming real-life story, the Anirban Bose directorial has baffling logic and shallow characterisation

For a film based on an incredibly heartwarming real-life story, Aye Zindagi leaves you bitterly cold. The idea is noble, and the message is laudable, but the treatment is unequivocally lopsided. The title reminds one of the evocative Suresh Wadkar number from Sadma, but the soulless narrative seldom primes you to embrace life.

Set in a period when liver transplant in India was extremely rare and the idea of organ donation had yet to find traction, the story is about survivor’s guilt. It reminds one of the saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for’. When a young Lucknow-based software engineer Vinay Chawla (Satyajeet Dubey) develops severe symptoms of cirrhosis, he rushes to a hospital in Hyderabad where he comes across Revathi Rajan (Revathy) a grief counsellor whose job is to persuade grieving families of the brain-dead patients to donate organs. How their lives intertwine forms the rest of the story.

Aye Zindagi

Director: Anirban Bose

Cast: Revathy, Satyajeet Dubey, Shrikant Verma

Runtime: 104 minutes

Storyline: Based on a true story, Aye Zindagi follows the journey of a 26-year-old liver cirrhosis patient who shares an unlikely bond with a hospital grief counsellor

The subject raises a lot of hope, but writer-director Anirban Bose fails to draw us into the narrative. The detailing and the emotional heft that the story demands are sorely missing. The incoherent script seems like a work in progress. Despite being based on a true story, the intrinsic logic of it all is baffling, and the characterisation feels laboured. For an educated professional, Vinay is remarkably unaware of the complications of the disease and believes that he could carry on with his job alongside expensive treatment.

Even his brother (a doctor!) doesn’t stop him and, in fact, puts his own career on pause so that his brother could go to office. The decisions of Vinay’s bosses lack clarity and his colleagues’ support seems like an afterthought. When romance blooms between Vinay and nurse Manju (Mrinmayee Godbole looks the part) in the hospital, the proceedings get some pulse, but it hardly breaks the ennui.

Part of the problem is Satyajeet’s flat performance. The make-up artists ensure that he looks the part but we hardly get to read the mind and heart of the complex character. No such issues with Revathy though. Returning to Hindi cinema after a while, the seasoned actor dives deep into the character right from the first frame. Anirban has not been kind to her as well, as the writing hardly creates opportunities to let us see the warts and bruises caused by her challenging work on her soul. But the actor makes up for the lack of detailing with her heartfelt act of a professional and mother of two children. When Revathy’s eyes betray the stoic presence of a counsellor, one feels a lump in the throat. However, her presence makes everything around her feel all the more plastic.

Aye Zindagi is currently running in theatres

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By Dipak

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