This film may not have many takers (read audience) but whoever watches it will come out enlightened. It falls in the off-beat cinema mold, an area which many producers and directors do not venture into because of the economic factor. However, deep within, most passionate about cinema do want to dabble with topics that will not make the box-office 'jingle all the way', but will certainly satisfy their creative urge. This has been openly voiced by Subhash Ghai when he launched the music album of JOGGER'S PARK in 2003. He said then that he always wanted to do something like this but was afraid of the economics. And now that he had managed the economics, he was game for exploring. Not verbatim, but something to this effect.
STAYING ALIVE is one such film that brings you to the reality of what life really is. Director Anant Mahadevan does not hammer home his point, but very subtly, using mild humour as a backdrop, manages to impress with what he wants to express. You don't always have to shout to make your point; the same impact can be had by speaking out calmly, what you would have otherwise said harshly and rashly. Mahadevan manages exactly that.
This film is based on a true story, that of celebrated Bollywood writer Sujit Sen's experience in a hospital. Sen had suffered a third heart attack and was admitted to a hospital. Next to him was a gangster who had suffered his first. The movie is about how both look at life, from next to death; the bonding of both the wives in the hospital corridor, and the sacrifices they make to keep their marriage alive.
Anant Mahadevan is a journalist who has suffered his third heart attack. As he is being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, he explains to his wife (Ranjana Sasa) where he has kept all the important financial documents. In the corridor, she meets with another distraught lady (Navni Parihar) whose gangster husband (Saurabh Shukla) has been wheeled into the ICU after his first major heart attack.
From here, the movie moves from the corridor to the ICU to important flashbacks to round off a complete soul-searching journey. While the corridor scenes portray the anxiety the two women go through and their gradual bonding, the scenes in the ICU oscillate from serious to subtle fun, to bonding of another kind.
What works for the movie, considering its theme, is the lighting and the low camera angles that capture the mood of the patients. This I feel is what aids the total product for its absolute appeal. Both Mahadevan and Shukla are first rate in their performances, ably supported by both the ladies, Ranjana and Navni.
Anant Mahadevan has gone slow on histrionics. He just unravels the mystery of a criminal's mind and how it undergoes a sea change wanting to turn a new leaf in his life. But then being a gangster is a 'one way street', the famous dialogue mouthed by Paresh Rawal to Sanjay Dutt in Naam.
Does Saurabh Shukla who plays Shaukat Ali really have a choice? Go watch it.