What if we had the power to prophesize? What if we could predict the future? What if we could foresee everything that will happen to us and our loved ones.
If we knew that we will eventually live happily-ever-after, we could sigh in optimistic relief. If we’re destined towards ill fate, we could mentally prepare ourselves and accept the tragedy with peace of mind.
Unfortunately we don’t have that luxury. So we wait. Trapped in a seemingly never-ending state of emotional limbo, we anxiously await our predestined fate.
Waiting is about the emotional roller-coaster ridden by a Tara Kapoor, a young model, and Shiv Natraj, a retired professor, as they cope with the pain of their respective spouses being in a coma. Despite their radically different personalities and contrasting worldviews, the two find solace in each other, as they are the only ones who can understand what the other is feeling.
The relationship dynamic between Tara, portrayed by Kalki Koechlin, and Shiv, portrayed by Naseeruddin Shah, aligns with your typical cross-generational tropes. Tara is a social media fanatic while Shiv hasnt even heard of Twitter. Tara is an avowed atheist while Shiv seeks spirituality for comfort. Tara is blunt, while Shiv is more prudent with his words.
In fact, Shiv voices his criticism of the youth to his unresponsive wife, proclaiming “Of course, the young generation are more evolved than us. They’re more well-informed. But they lack grace and common sense…. After all, you can’t vomit out everything you’re thinking!”
However, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, cliches are not undesirable in themselves. They appeal to our yearning for familiarity. In Waiting, the cliched setup works well in touching on the grey texture of relationships and the deeper truths of life.
Our two protagonists candidly berate the preponderance of platitudes they’re forced to hear from friends and concerned acquaintances. From the surgeon’s standard ‘the next forty-eight hours will be crucial’ dialogue to Tara’s sister pontificating on ‘positive energy’, we’re practically programmed to assure distressed loved ones that ‘everything will be okay’ and ‘our thoughts and prayers are with you’. We don’t realize that this rehearsed string of rhetoric causes unintentioned resentment, exemplified by Tara’s single-sentence line, “I fucking hate people”.
Most married couples never anticipate a situation when one of them succumbs to a coma. We always assume it happens to other people, never ourselves. If your spouse was trapped in an unresponsive state for a long duration of time, would you consent to pulling the plug or not? And regardless of your decision, do you think your spouse would agree?
I suppose the ‘Would you pull the plug on me?’ discussion is not the effective way of setting the mood!
Naseeruddin Shah, as a veteran of Arthouse cinema, was perfect for his role. Kalki Koechlin also did remarkably well. She successfully managed to convey the distress of a woman who practically lost her husband without being excessively melodramatic. The supporting cast, including Rajat Kapoor as the physician, also did exceptional.
The cinematography was superb in capturing the charm of Cochin. I was pleasantly surprised to see the story unfold in one of my favorite cities in India. Those amusing snippets of our North Indian protagonists enunciating rudimentary Malayalam phrases were also a real treat!
Although the plot is slightly formulaic, this film offers some food for thought. The tone throughout the film was gentle and softhearted. This movie will make you count your blessings, allowing you to be more appreciative of your loved ones.