Star Cast: Kajol, Vishal Jethwa, Riddhi Kumar, Rajeev Khandelwal, Priyamani, Aahana Kumra & ensemble.
What’s Good: It is an earnest attempt in telling a story about a dying man determined to make his existence worthwhile and a mother’s anguish and zest to give her son the best passing.
What’s Bad: The void it ignores while focusing on the broad strokes powered by high-toned emotions and overtly manipulating background music.
Loo Break: There is nothing so bad that you chose something over this if you have bought that ticket.
Watch or Not?: For an honest attempt and a story that is moving and brave, you must give it a chance. Maybe wait for the OTT release.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Available On: In Theatres Near You!
Runtime: 136 Minutes.
Based on Srikanth Murthy’s celebrated work inspired by the true story of K. Venkatesh, The Last Hurrah, Salaam Venky is a movie about a boy fighting a rare genetic disorder named Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. Living the last days of his life he conveys his dying wish to his mother, who now has the task to fulfil it.
Salaam Venky Movie Review: Script Analysis
Euthanasia, the will to die, is a topic that is the trickiest mine for filmmakers who dare to tell a balanced story about grief. The subject that someone is already counting their last days and in them demands the death of dignity and peace, there is already immense grief and pain enough to move one even with a summary. So the task at hand here for a filmmaker is not to make the audience weep, but also to console them to understand the things lying between the lines. Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish, a kind of escapist movie that did deal with the subject but chose the love story to highlight and did falter a bit.
Salaam Venky equipped by director Revathy, with screenplay writer Sameer Arora and additional screenplay and dialogues by Kausar Munir, is based on an achingly moving true story of a boy who tried to fulfill his dying wish of donating his organs to people in need because he was about to die any day. While the movie is shaped and structured to make one cry, it kind of enters the escapist zone even when it is a real-life story. Written in very broad strokes, this world leaves very less room for greys and writes everything in either black or white. People are either very good and sympathetic towards Venky, or outright bad like his father who at one point calls him a ‘dead investment’.
There is merit on paper in Salaam Venky. One can see clearly how earnest and thought-provoking this story is that of a boy who is full of life even when he doesn’t have much of it left. A mother and her anguish about not being able to save the son she fought the world for. A blind girl who is in love with Venky, together they dream of climbing a light tower and seeing the world. They are two halves making one human and it all seems so moving when you read it. The visual translation is also good but not to the mark where it all stays in the real world and moves you humanely and does not seem like an imaginative tale.
Like there is a cameo by Aamir Khan, much of it cannot be really written about considering it would be a spoiler, but nothing about it lands too well to hit hard when you see his purpose in the larger scheme of things. Credit where it’s due, one scene that stays with you and I hope many more were shaped likewise is when Venky after a fight with his mother realises this could be their last conversation and regrets it by breaking down inconsolably. It’s really, vulnerable and so human, the rest tries to show a fairy tale and tones down the suffering of a man fighting a very rare disease with no ailment for it.
Salaam Venky Movie Review: Star Performance
Kajol has a love relationship with lens and there is no way she can look bad in any frame. A toned down for good performance, she plays Sujata with all the honesty and motherly instincts. Her breakdowns and tears are not manufactured but organic and one can see it. But the film doesn’t give her the alone time she deserves. She has seen her son in pain, a strained relationship, and a life away from a daughter (completely sidelined with a very inconsequential plot), she needs to be with herself so we see her at the most vulnerable point.
Vishal Jethwa is a gifted actor. Taking a 180-degree turn from his villainous role in Rani Mukerji’s Mardaani, makes Venky look believable even when the script tries to not translate his pain well. The actor is on the right path and wishes to see more of him.
Also, more of Aamir Khan being himself on the big screen please! The cameos in Salaam Venky are worth the while. See them yourself.
Salaam Venky Movie Review: Direction, Music
Revathy is a prolific actor who tries and includes intricate details in her performances. But her direction lacks the same details and one can clearly see that. She focuses on the bigger aspects of the story and doesn’t go deeper often. Even when it is a woman telling women’s story, it doesn’t look like one for the most part of it.
The biggest flaw about Salaam Venky is Mithoon’s music or the overuse of it. The background music tries to manipulate the viewer to an extent that it tries to force-feed feelings. The story already has enough to move people and adding more devices makes no difference. Also, can we stop using sitar strings everytime a ‘Guruji’ appears on the screen?
Ravi Varman blows life into the movie with his frames. He tells the story in wide frames and shadows and just enough light so you figure out what is what. There is art in every top shot, pans and tilts. Keep looking at it and figure out.
Salaam Venky Movie Review: The Last Word
Salaam Venky is earnest film but also flawed and one cannot ignore that. A more realistic approach would have done wonders.
Salaam Venky Trailer
Salaam Venky releases on 09th December, 2022.
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For more recommendations, read our Bhediya Movie Review here.