Making a black comedy without slipping into
insensitivity is not the easiest way to entertain an audience. But director Rajesh
Mapuskar has you chuckling in the theatre and then going home to give your
father an extra hug.
Gaju Kaka is on the ventilator in a Mumbai hospital. Keep
it a secret, announces one relative to a houseful of chatty men and women in
the village. An assortment of relatives trickles into the hospital from various
places, each with a personal agenda. Someone wants property, another wants a
personal toilet built or a share of the mango crop. But there’s order in the
chaos. Though all the known human weaknesses, including greed, politics and
matchmaking, are at play in the waiting room, Mapuskar’s training under
Rajkumar Hirani is evident as he gives a refreshingly light touch to the
characters trooping into the hospital. Even a familiar scene in such situations
like the dying man’s wife relating how normal he was in the morning, turns
hilarious as she parrots it with monotonous repetition.
Against a backdrop of Ganpati idols getting ready and
poojas being held for the man on the ventilator for reasons not entirely noble,
Mapuskar shows how tough it is to take a call on pulling the plug. The
formalities are clinical for the hospital staff but heartrending for the
It is a bit prolonged and predictable when an uncle narrates
an emotional tale to Prasanna, the dying man’s son, about what his dad did for
him as a baby. Rather late in the day to patch up the patient on the ventilator
and his son but it helps Prasanna take a call on switching off the life support.
And it works for the uncle himself in his estranged equations with his son
played by Ashutosh Gowariker.
Gowariker puts in a substantial performance as a
famous filmmaker. As the celebrity in the family, his presence in the hospital
makes it lively. The reactions to him are amusing as they vary from wanting a
selfie with him to asking him if he’s going through a divorce and advising him
on his balding head.
Boman Irani also makes a special appearance and speaks
Marathi like the Dadar boy he is. Every actor contributes with a fitting
performance especially Jitendra Joshi as son Prasanna who has his own demons to
Produced by Priyanka Chopra who puts in a sprightly surprise
appearance, she tells Ashutosh Gowariker in one scene, “Dads are special”. You
can immediately see how much the actress misses her own late father Dr Ashok
For a film that’s equally heavy on humour and human
emotions, Ventilator gets a 3.5*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author