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Ventilator  : Humour & Human Relationships
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Friday, November 4, 2016
Rajesh Mapuskar
Ashutosh Gowariker, Jitendra Joshi, Sulbha Arya, Sukanya Kulkarni-Mone, Viju Khote, Boman Irani

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 family.


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 fight.   


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 Chopra.


For a film that’s equally heavy on humour and human emotions, Ventilator gets a 3.5* rating.  


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

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