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My Brother...Nikhil Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Wednesday, March 23, 2005 • Hindi ]
My Brother...Nikhil Review
Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, Victor Bannerjee, Lillete Dubey, Purab Kohli, Shyan Munshi, Dipannita Sharma, Shweta Kawaatre

After Madhur Bhandarkar's "Page 3" and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black", there's something strange, stirring, exciting and path-breaking in Hindi cinema this year.

"My Brother...Nikhil" is an intimate, and yet, far-reaching study of family ties, social castigation and resilience in the face of AIDS.

Like many of the new avant-garde directors, Onirban uses the Brechtian distancing device - whereby the characters speak directly into the camera about the protagonist.

We get to 'know' Nikhil (Sanjay Suri) - the bright promising sportsperson whose career life and self-regard are shattered by AIDS - through the voices of his father Navin Kapoor (Victor Bannerjee), mother Anita (Lillete Dubey), friend Nigel (Purab Kohli) and sister Anu (Juhi Chawla).

The multiplicity of voices never crowd the narrative. In fact, the narration has great moments of drama especially towards the end, when the dying hero has to come to terms with his impending destiny.

Scenes between Nikhil and his loved ones will rip your heart open with their translucent candour. As in the masterful "Black", the emphasis in "My Brother...Nikhil" too, is on light rather than dark.

The absence of mawkishness in the drama is a constant reminder of the new levels of maturity being attained by our cinema.

Less always seems more in "My Brother...Nikhil", and as we peer into Nikhil's cosy world, we, the spectators, are never made to feel like intruders but rather, like welcome guests.

There are no sharp edges in the narrative, no labored attempts to get our attention, even in moments of heart-rending tragedy - for example, the pre-climactic sequence where Nikhil's dying father meets him after two years of ostracising him.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Nikhil reminds his father how he used to promise him before sleeping at nights about chasing away all his nightmares. "Papa, make this nightmare go away," he begs.

It's a moment every sensitive viewer would carry in his heart forever.

"My Brother...Nikhil" is suffused with enchanting moments done-up in bright, yet, subtle tones that hold your attention without screaming for it.

Besides that, the film's greatest triumph is the completely in-sync cast.

Victor Bannerjee and Lillete Dubey, both very fine actors, enact the anguish of parents who face the ignominy of snubs in a close-knit conservative community.

Juhi Chawla, the eternal sunshine girl, is perfectly cast as Nikhil's endearing supportive and defiant sister.

But the surprise package is Purab Kohli. As Nikhil's soul-mate Nigel, he brings tremendous tenderness into his difficult character. The sequence, where he quietly clutches his dying friend's legs after a bitter quarrel, is clear testimony to his spontaneity as an actor.

Finally, the film is a triumph for producer Sanjay Suri, who gets the chance to play a role no other Indian actor has ever done.

A hurrah for Vivek Philip's music. The theme song (stunningly well-sung by Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan and KK) reverberates across the moon-drenched mood of this mellow-drama, sweeping in a galaxy of heartbreaking feelings.

Neither inspired by a Hollywood source, nor didactic and sermonic "My Brother...Nikhil" manages to convey its social message on the stigma of an AIDS victim in firm but soft tones.

Rating: 0 / 5.0

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