Kajal and Vishal Jethwa’s Salaam Venky is a film that celebrates life and embraces passion. It talks about the sensitive topic of euthanasia and organ donation. Read our review.
Salaam Venky releases on December 9.
The film stars Kajol and Vishal Jethwa in lead roles.
It is directed by Revathy.
You may feel overwhelmed seeing the number of heartfelt emotional dramas at the moment, and we totally understand! But Kajol and Vishal Jethwa-starrer stands apart from the rest. Directed by Revathy, Salaam Venky is a wonderfully made dark movie despite not hitting the right notes on all fronts. Based on the novel The Last Hurrah by Shrikant Murthy, the film touches upon a grave subject of euthanasia, which in simple terms, means the act of deliberately ending a person’s life to end their suffering.
When Kajol’s character Sujata finds out that her son Venky, played by Vishal Jethwa, has a rare health condition, she is heartbroken. Based on a true story, the film is about Venky suffering from a terminally serious problem called Duchenne muscular dystrophy which makes him bedridden. His mother battles the challenges thrown at her with a brave face. Sujata has always granted her son’s wishes, but a mother can’t grant her child’s request to die now, can she? This is where the story starts. Venky wants to donate his organs by opting for euthanasia, but it’s illegal in India (FYI, passive euthanasia has been legal in India since 2018.)
In the first half of the film, we see Venky being rushed to the hospital where he is hooked to machines. The boy remains positive throughout and even calls it ‘decorations’ on him. Kajol says that he’s back to the hospital in just a week, indicating that Venky’s death is near. Several flashbacks are thrown in where we get a glimpse of Venky’s childhood, his troubled relationship with estranged father, his list of wishes, and his bond with her peers. Though the film moves at a slow pace, it is worth the time.
The second half focusses on Kajol’s Sujata finally accepting her son’s will to die. She runs pillar-to-post to allow her son to get euthanised so that he could donate his organs. Rahul Bose and Priyamani play opposing lawyers while Aahana Kumra impresses as the television reporter who is giving the mother-son duo some positive media coverage.
Venky is filmy guy who loves Bollywood. He swears by Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand’s line, “Babumoshai, Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin!” And when his love interest is leaving the hospital room, Venky whispers Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘palat, palat, palat’ with his earnest eyes. For a boy who knows he’s going to die, Venky teaches you to make the most of life.
Vishal Jethwa has given an incredible performance in Salaam Venky, probably one of his best. He brings in multi-layered emotions and wit with so much life. This is ironical for a person who so desperately wishes to end it. Vishal should be given a standing ovation for making everyone cry and smile at the same time, and he barely had to lift a finger to do it. While lying on the hospital bed, he won our hearts with his raw emotions. Watch out for the scene where he is crying out for his mom helplessly because she won’t speak to him.
Kajol has once again proved that it is her world when it comes to movies, and we are just living in it! For a mother who knows her child is going to die, she has the toughest job. Her expressions will leave you in tears. Her banters with her dying son is immensely cute.
Revathy’s affection for her film’s characters is evident, and balanced equally by her respect for them and her filmmaking process. Three cheers for the screenplay though. From the four corners of the hospital room to the beach shots, Salaam Venky’s scenes are visually hypnotic and will keep you hooked.
However, the film isn’t one without faults. The first half of the film could have been written tighter. It drags on that you momentarily lose interest. Aamir Khan’s cameo looks forced because the makers wanted another star appearance. Another thing where the makers went wrong were the songs. Salaam Venky almost looked liked a musical. In one of the scenes, Venky’s team decides to make a video montage of him to show the court that he is mentally stable to express his wish to die. The film failed to overlook that the judge might see it as a sign that Venky is not in pain. The tragedy in this film is that it is based on a true story, so it didn’t really need all this ‘masala mirchi’. The intention might have been right, but it failed evoke positive emotions in some parts.
One side character which was beautifully written was of Aneet Padda’s Nandini, who is Venky’s love interest. She is visually impaired, and she sees the world through Venky’s eyes, whereas she is his legs. When Venky is on the verge of dying, and he can’t speak, he communicates with Nandini by writing on her hand. It’s so beautiful how even the most strained of love stories can be revitalised by a human touch. Prakash Raj, Kamal Sadanah, Anant Mahadevan and Parvathi T’s also give commendable performances.
Salaam Venky is a film that celebrates life and embraces passion. It fully encapsulates human spirit and in an unique way, shows how it’s the birthright of everyone to choose their own journey in life. It stands out with its beauty, intellect and spirit. The film will teach you that life is short, so if you are upset, sad or feeling dejected, get up, rise and shine! Let’s see that smile on your face like Venky.