Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Aashayein: Don’t hope for much
Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Aashayein” is one of those films that you will forget the minute you leave the theatre – there isn’t much in the film that will keep you gripped from start to end, but it isn’t so repelling that you want to get out of the theatre and leave.
For a film that is supposed to tug at your heartstrings, this one barely manages to touch them and except for a few moments, hardly any of the characters or their stories make an impact on you.
John Abraham plays Rahul, a compulsive gambler who wins a large sum of money and just as he is planning to spend it, discovers that he has lung cancer and only three months to live. Angry at the world, he leaves his city apartment, his fiancée and friends and heads to a hospice where people come to spend their last days.
Of course, he meets a whole host of characters who make him realise how precious life is. He makes friends with a rebellious teenager, Padma, who also has cancer. Together the two of them start a wish fairy club, and go about fulfilling the wishes of all the inmates in the centre.
Rahul also befriends Govinda, a young kid with supernatural powers (we are told) who gives him cryptic messages about some tasks that he has to follow. We are then shown dream sequences where John Abraham is stuck in a dungeon with badly made-up ghosts and searching for a elusive whip of all things. This, it is safe to say, is the most ridiculous part of the script. This dream is supposed to represent Rahul’s search in real life, but it ends up looking ridiculous.
John Abraham tries hard to make this one work, and Anahita Nair as Padma is very good. The supporting cast, which includes accomplished actors like Girish Karnad and Farida Jalal are under-used and stuck with limited roles.
Also, if you are making a film like this, please don’t show us clippings of “Anand” within the film. It will only remind the audience of how your film doesn’t even match up to a bit of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic.
This is one of those films best watched on television when you have nothing much to do.