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Shwaas Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Saturday, April 9, 2005 • Hindi ]
Shwaas Review
Arun Nalavade, Ashwin Chitale, Sandeep Kulkarni
Sandeep Sawant

It would be no exaggeration to call Sandeep Sawant's Marathi masterpiece "Shwaas" a breath of fresh air.

And yet clever words can only conceal the film's merits while revealing the movie-watcher's helplessness and inadequacy in articulating his true feelings. Like the rural patriarch Vichare (Arun Nalavade) who stands at Dr. Sane's chamber-door -- anxiety, tension, worry and panic written all over his tired eyes.

It's one of the clinching moments in the narrative. Prior to it, director Sawant hadn't shown us the old man's face. We only heard him pleading with the harried receptionist at the doctor's office for an out-of-turn appointment.

Now here he is, Vichare and his little grandson Parashuram (Ashwin Chitale) sitting anxiously in a strange room with strange scary smells in a strange city with an over-worked cancer specialist who's trying hard not to lose his patience.

Just think. A well-meaning workaholic doctor confronted by an old man with a little boy who suffers from a rare cancer that can be cured only if the boy's eyes are surgically removed.

What bigger drama and tragedy could descend on the screen?

Admittedly the director has hit on a fool proof plot to squeeze every ounce of sympathy out of the audience.

But that isn't what "Shwaas" is about. The director's vision transcends the immediate sentimentality of the situation and the inherent melodrama of the plot to undertake a debate on the quality of life.

What makes every breath that we take worth the while? Is it how much time we spend doing the things we want? Or is it what we do with the time that's allotted to us? And on a more immediate level, how do we prepare a seven-year old boy for impending blindness?

The film's characters, big or small, all seem to exist on screen from long before the camera caught them grieving over a matter that tears cannot rationalize. Full marks to the director for keeping the film completely out of studio floors. By taking the characters into a real hospital and other authentic locations Sandeep Sawant right away resolves an age-old dilemma in cinema.

Can studio sets take away from the authenticity level of a story? "Shwaas" positively and irrevocably champions the cause of authentic locations. Once in place, the characters automatically appear to be an integral part of the heart breaking narrative.

The actors do the rest. Whether it's the earnest medical volunteer Aiswaraya grappling endlessly with the situation of co-ordinating the grandfather's grief with the doctor's choc-a-block schedules, or the little boy's mother in the village anxiously asking on phone if surgery is necessary... The people in this intimate epic remind us of how real reality-dramas could be, provided they set their hearts to it.

Not that "Shwaas" lacks a mind. A great deal of thought has gone into making Sandeep Sawant's film what the moving experience that it is. The manner in which he inter cuts idyllic scenes from the grandfather and the boy's village life with the grim claustrophobic reality of the city hospital, echoes the enchanting lyricism of Satyajit Ray's Bengali "Pather Panchali" and Shaji Karun's Malayalam "Piravi".

The narrative, straight simple and sincere, is spiced with dollops of symbolism (for example, the sparks of fire falling to the ground as the ill boy, his grandfather and the poor kindly relative who accompanies them stride fearfully through the city) ignite what could have been a dry and dreadfully defeatist drama of death-like dimensions.

Far from it, "Shwaas" is finally and gloriously an assertion of life. It's one of the bravest and most s

Rating: 0 / 5.0

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