Star cast: John Abraham, Sonal Sehgal, Anahita Nair, master Ashwin Chitale.

Plot: John is diagnosed with lung cancer and has only three months to live. How a compulsive gambler rediscovers life in the face of death is what the film is all about.

What’s Good: Two songs composed by Salim-Sulaiman.

What’s Bad: The depressing feeling the film leaves the viewer with.

Verdict: AASHAYEIN is depressing stuff. Besides the audience, it will also leave the makers and distributors gloomy.

Loo break: Several.

Percept Picture Company and SIC Productions’ Aashayein (UA) is the story of a young man, Rahul (John Abraham), who is a compulsive gambler. He is diagnosed with lung cancer and has only three months to live. Rahul, who was planning to get married to Nafisa (Sonal Sehgal), leaves her to spend his last few days in a home for people whose end is nearing. There, he meets Padma (Anahita Nair) and Govinda (master Ashwin Chitale). While Padma is a fiery girl who falls in love with Rahul although she is very young, Govinda weaves stories about other patients, which stories are believed to be correct predictions of their future.

The film talks about how Rahul travels from darkness to light and understands the true meaning of life.

Nagesh Kukunoor’s story is depressing right from the word ‘go’. His screenplay moves on a single track, that too, at a leisurely pace. The philosophical part of the drama (the portions of Govinda speaking about Rahul’s past and future) would not be understood by the majority of the viewers as it is too abstract. In other words, there is little joy or happiness in the drama. Likewise, there is hardly any entertainment value in the film. Dialogues (Kukunoor) are okay.

John Abraham does a fair job. He goes through the various stages of his terminal illness in a mature way. Sonal Sehgal looks pretty and her acting is okay. She gets limited scope. Shreyas Talpade adds star value in a song which is racy and very well-tuned. Anahita Nair acts with effortless ease and is very natural. Girish Karnad is endearing. Prateeksha Lonkar is suitably restrained. Vikram Inamdar leaves a mark in every scene he comes. Master Ashwin Chitale is pretty effective. Farida Jalal, Sonali Sachdev, Sharad Wagh and the rest pass muster.

Nagesh Kukunoor’s direction, limited by and also like his script, holds appeal more for the festival circuit audience than the general masses. Salim-Sulaiman’s music goes very well with the mood of the film. ‘Ab mujhko jeena’ and ‘Shukriya zindagi’ are both beautifully tuned numbers. Mir Ali Husain’s lyrics of both the aforementioned songs are beautiful. Sudeep Chatterjee’s camerawork captures the moroseness of the drama very effectively. Apurva Asrani’s editing and Sunil Nigvekar’s sets are appropriate.

On the whole, Aashayein may be a well-made film but its commercial prospects are bleak because it lacks entertainment value and runs on a single track.

By Komal Nahta

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