There are 5 stages to grief - denial, anger, bargain, depression and acceptance - Shiv Nataraj (Naseeruddin Shah) explains to a young Tara (Kalki) when she asks how he manages to be so Zen-like. Both share a common pain. Shiv's wife (Suhasini) has been in coma for 8 months - his 40-year married life now turning into a torture rack for him. Tara's husband is in a coma too, after meeting with a severe accident and she is in a dilemma, whether to let the doctors operate on him or let him breathe his last. Her argument is simple - he wouldn't want to be a vegetable. That is in stark contrast to Shiv who leaves no stone unturned to ensure his wife continues to live. 8 months is a long time but he shows his maturity settling into a rhythm, visiting the hospital, reading books to her (in the hope that she is listening), bringing coffee for the janitors in the hospital and making small talk with the nurse. He is almost bankrupt and that dissuades the doctors from giving her the treatment he thinks his wife deserves after gleaning over piles of medical journals and talking with authority about neurosurgery and the processes involved.
Shiv Nataraj (who jokingly says a long stay in South India has turned him into Shiva Nataraja) is an inexorable character. He is fighting with a brave front, with a happy face. But that brief moment at 6 am when his alarm rings, his visage exposes the horror he faces, he feels. That moment, shown several times in the movie is Anu Menon, the director's, victory. Tara on the other hand, is still trying to cope, still trying to make her decisions.
The movie is full of endearing moments - Shiv and Tara dancing to loud music playing on a gramophone, Shiv expressing his opinion about the present generation, Tara lamenting about how even the most stupid of her selfies gets 250 likes on FB and yet, even her best friends are not with her in trouble, a lovely neighbour sending dinner over to Shiv everyday (portrayed charmingly with a book in her hand in the only scene where she actually makes an appearance) - many such incidents that make you smile, laugh and maybe hold a tear trying to escape from the corner. With soft background music and lovely, bright frames, the movie entices you without doing anything over-the-top. The unlikely relationship between two people from different walks of life and the similarity of their pain and the wait they have to endure, ooze with sentimentality that isn't fully bereft of pragmatism. Rajat Kapoor plays a lovely cameo as the near-numb doctor, worried only about hospital profits, faking concern all the time and even training his juniors how to play god at times. Amidst a galore of hospital-related jokes, the movie also features Rajeev Ravindranath (the senior who gets an electric shock in the 3-Idiots ragging scene) who plays his role brilliantly as the gentle, helpful and un-acknowledged (until the end when eventually Tara thanks him) colleague who does more for Tara while she is in hospital than any of her own friends, who only dump advice on her.
With several undercurrents like whether she should call her hospitalized husband's parents who have been hostile because of the couple's love marriage, the movie casts light on characters beautifully and with it offers a slightly, cynical outlook on the world. Yet, its eventual message is to override that cynicism for one's own sake. It is just as charming as, if not more, than Lunchbox, with two characters playing their roles beautifully. Naseeruddin shows why he is one of the best actors we have ever had, whether it is in his dance, in his grief, in his fortitude or in his dignity. The linen shirts add agree with him elegantly. Kalki, introduced smartly as someone who does a sanitary-napkin ad to use her social-media reach for something good, continues to pick brilliant scripts emerging as one of the most unconventional actresses in Bollywood. A movie worth watching!