Director: Rajesh Mapuskar
Cast: Ashutosh Gowariker, Jitendra Joshi, Sukanya Kulkarni Mone, Sulabha Arya
Gaju kaka is on a ventilator, being treated for an illness no one in his Kamerkar clan has any clue about. More than the patriarch’s illness, however, the family is besieged with bigger concerns. The mad scramble among family members to pay the customary hospital visit threatens to throw preparations for Ganeshotsava, which is only a week away, completely out of gear.
As expected, there is chaos all around.
The Kamerkar family comes together to see their beloved ailing uncle, and meets Raja Kamerkar (Ashutosh Gowariker). While it’s a family reunion for everyone else, for Raja it’s time to meet his folks, some of whom have helped him grow but whom he hasn’t met in a long time.
The timing of the hospitalisation is critical: Ganpati Bappa is due to come in seven days and any mishap will mean family mourning and cancellation of the entire 10-day festival. Kaka’s son Prasanna (Jitendra Joshi) is disturbed: He is in-charge of the festivities in his chawl, and if they were to be called off, it could affect his political ambitions.
In short, a lot depends on keeping the ailing uncle alive…
Every character in this household is relatable: The ailing uncle’s wailing wife (Sulabha Arya), an ‘overlearned’ IIM son who stays aloof, a family matchmaker (Viju Khote), an obese kid (who’d once gulped a coin during a magic trick), a Tupperware-selling aunty, a north Indian neighbour, a ‘Marathi maanoos’ politician, and many more.
Beneath the pleasantries, however, the family bickers over many issues: Apart from property, they fight over sharing the royalty coming from mangoes and construction of a toilet. Visiting the ailing uncle is but just an excuse for the Kamerkars to come together, talk out issues and possibly salvage some broken bonds in the bargain.
As an American character in the film points out, “They stick together despite their differences. That’s the beauty of an Indian family.”
Ventilator is a delightful, well-written family drama by director Rajesh Mapuskar, who previously directed Ferrari Ki Sawaari. In this over two-hour long film, Mapuskar takes you inside the hospital and makes you sit with each character. But in the midst of all the chaos, he successfully conveys his message about a father-son bond without going over the top. As the film draws to a close you don’t take sides, don’t dislike any character and that’s where Mapuskar wins.
Produced by Priyanka Chopra, who also has a cameo, Ventilator has some remarkable performances. Sukanya Kulkarni Mone and Jitendra Joshi play their characters of Gaju kaka’s children to perfection.
The theme song goes with the fervour of Ganesh festival but makes one wonder why the makers didn’t think of releasing it in September. The film is cast firmly in the family mould. It’s a wonderful journey that makes you peep inside your own home.