LAFF2016 Film Review: Waiting

A poignant, yet heartwarming story that will resonate in your heart and mind

Posted: 16.03.16

London Asian Film Festival (LAFF) 2016 is an initiative highly anticipated every year, celebrating a diverse selection of independent filmmaking, always showcasing inspiring talent from South Asia – this year also fulfilled expectations and beyond. The closing gala night at BAFTA, hosted a special UK premiere screening of Waiting directed by Anu Menon, with stellar talent Naseeruddin Shah playing Professor Shiv Natraj, along with Kalki Koechlin as Tara Kapoor. The lives of these two very different characters come together, after tragedy strikes them both in the same way. Fiery, brash and bold, newly wed Tara is thrown into a dreaded situation after her husband falls into a coma, following an accident in Cochin. At the hospital, her path crosses with Shiv, whose wife has been in a coma for months.

Older, wiser and being in the same situation as Tara, the two soon become friends as they share their various phases of grief, due to the unknown and pending fate of their loved ones. Both actors delivered a believable and powerful performance – Kalki embodies Tara so naturally, as she manages to retain a likeability, despite Tara’s at times, rather brazen attitude and rude lingo, which actually contributes to the subtle humour, in what could have been a depressing tale, owing to the morbid nature of the story. But it is anything but sorrowful, thanks to Shiv and Tara, the way their personalities have been created. Anu’s beautiful depiction of the real and endearing love for their partners is so moving, in particular the flashbacks Tara and Shiv envisage, as a glimpse of their lovers’ memories, will make you well up and appreciate your own loved one - you will want to run home and embrace them.

The generational gap between Tara and Shiv is also lovingly portrayed, with Tara teaching Shiv the concept of Twitter and Tara’s habitual swear words rubbing off on Shiv. Another interesting aspect explored by Anu, is the lack of support the two characters have in their time of need, which is what strengthens their bond. Waiting also delves into the woeful politics of the medical world and the monetary dominance held over lesser fortunate souls, and how that can hinder a patient’s treatment.

What makes Waiting a must-watch, is that whether you have personally encountered a distressing situation like Shiv and Tara - which is what inspired Anu to make this film, which helped her come to terms with her own similar experience – it is a relatable scenario. It serves as a gentle reminder that life is short and to savour your loved ones. Waiting is simultaneously heartbreaking, with some strong emotion-invoking moments, yet also heartwarming, making it a celebration of life, love and friendship. We salute Anu,for choosing the unconventional path of ‘indie’ film-making, a totally different genre to her last film London, Paris, New York and for creating such an invigorating and memorable story, which sadly may not surmount to the criteria of ‘commercial’ Indian cinema today, but certainly surpasses the threshold of admirable story-telling and meaningful cinema.

Waiting releases on 29th April 2016 in India
Find out more about LAFF here

Fariha Sabir

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