'Salaam Venky' review: Kajol, Vishal Jethwa's film leaves you teary-eyed
Revathy's latest directorial Salaam Venky sets its tone from the opening sequence—a concerned mother rushes her son to the hospital. Within a couple of more scenes, it is clear that Sujata's (Kajol) son, Venky (Vishal Jethwa) has only a few days to live. This is no spoiler since it's based on the life of Kolavennu Venketesh, a 24-year-old chess player. Read our review.
Starting a conversation about euthanasia and organ donation
The story revolves around terminally ill Venky who's been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare genetic disorder. His last wish is to be allowed euthanasia so that he can donate his organs. While his mother rejects his wish at first, she eventually fights the law for it. The film does get the ball rolling for two important topics—organ donation and euthanasia.
'Salaam Venky' will leave you emotionally charged
The emotional drama of a mother-son duo will teach you many things, but most importantly, how to live (and lead) your life even in your last moments. An emotionally charged film, Salaam Venky will numb your eyes on multiple occasions as you walk through Venky's life, who is terminally ill but never skips a chance to smile and make others smile too.
The first half may feel like a drag
Revathy has narrated Venky's entire life in the film's first half. Kajol's dialogue: "This is the second time he's getting admitted in a week," itself means that Venky barely has a few days to live. From flashbacks of his childhood to the estranged relationship with his father, makers have shown his entire life before the interval. Yet, it moves at a turtle's pace.
Film's second half is the backbone of 'Salaam Venky'
The first half might be a drag but the film's actual life lies post-interval. It picks up the pace with Kajol's battle, the courtroom drama, and the efforts of a lawyer, doctor, and journalist to fulfill Venky's wish, holding the film strongly. One of the highlights is the closing argument presented by Venky's lawyer with a video that will surely leave you crying.
Without lifting a finger, Jethwa adds life to his character
It is quite ironic how Jethwa adds life to Venky's character who is terminally ill. Jethwa has mostly been shown on the bed with his expressions, particularly the eyes and smile doing all the talking. A movie buff, his character lives by Rajesh Khanna's iconic dialogue from the 1971's film Anand, "Zingagi lambi nahi, badi honii chahiye (Life must be big, not long)."
Kajol's performance will move you to bits
While the first half is about the mother-son's conflict, the second half of the 136-minute film is ruled by Kajol's performance. Her convincing acting proves that none could perform it better than she. On multiple occasions, you'll tend to cry with her as she fights the law to fulfill her son's last wish of euthanasia, becoming his voice, quite literally.
A strong supporting cast
While Kajol and Jethwa are the stars of the film, their glitter could not have been possible without a strong cast put together by Revathy. With Rajeev Khandelwal as the doctor, Rahul Bose, and Priyamani as opposing lawyers, Prakash Raj as the judge, and Aahana Kumra as the journalist, every character including Riddhi Kumar and Aneet Padda have added life to this film.
Presenting Aamir Khan as a puzzled character
Aamir Khan's character doesn't have a name but it'll leave you puzzled, wondering who he actually is. However, toward the end, you do get an idea about him, making you wonder if the cameo was actually needed or not. While he keeps returning to the story, the film would have worked fine without Khan's presence. We rate Revathy's film 3/5 stars.