Watching WAITING is like watching a scene from life pass you by.
The scenes are familiar, the repartee real, tragic and loaded with layers of cynical wit.
A young wife, recently married, finds her life turned upside down. At one moment she is planning a campaign for a sanitary napkin and the next she is dashing off to Kochi after receiving the worst news of her life.
Director Anu Menon does not spell out everything as the scenes unfold; she makes you impatient like the characters on screen. She keeps you 'Waiting', wondering 'what next' when a certain scene is enacted with just a sleight of emotion or expressions.
Menon involves you and makes the pain of the characters on screen 'yours'.
Along with the protagonists on screen you are left debating whether or not to pull the plug on the ventilator your loved one has been on for eight months. Have you done enough? Is it the time to let go? Is that what your partner of 40 years would want you to do?
On the other hand, will it be right to subject your spouse to a brain surgery when you are not certain whether he will be the same again? The fear of him being stuck to a wheelchair is a possibility.
Is that how he would like to live his life? Now that he is in a coma, is it right to decide on a high-risk surgery knowing that he was always on the go and an outdoors person?
And is not marriage for ''In good times and in bad; in sickness and in health?''
Dilemma! That's what Menon puts you in as you watch Shiv (Naseeruddin Shah) and Tara (Kalki Koechlin) strike a friendship of 'necessity' in a hospital waiting room. Separated by almost two generations, their seeing of life from the stage they are in is what WAITING is all about. Their age-gap is patched up with dialogues that leave a smile on your face. Each wants to know the other's perspective on the situation and when Shiv mouths the ''F'' word, which is so liberally used by Tara all throughout the film to portray her angst, you know that a chord has been struck and stitched through two generations.
Grief unites as much as it divides!
Shiv has reached a Zen like stage while Tara is still coming to terms with the recent tragedy! Zen master, however, unknown to the other is still battling his own demons. Has he done enough? Are the doctors making a business out of medicine? Is a patient just a bed number for them? And how far will the doctors go to squeeze you?
The doctors on their part are always in a ''Catch 22'' situation. ''The situation looks grim, but the next 48 hours will be crucial.'' That's their oft-repeated line.
Dr Nirupam (Rajat Kapoor) as the senior doctor embodies the doctor fraternity with his 'doctored' style of delivering information to his patients, however grim. You can either love him or loathe him. The choice is yours. This choice is 'humanely' depicted on screen by Menon without taking sides. ''You cannot share the grief with the patient for fear of losing perspective.'' That's Dr Nirupam's advice to his young team as he coaches them on how to deliver information to next of kin.
The dialogues that stitch the film together are the soul of the film apart from the very realistic portrayal of their respective characters played by Shah and Koelchin. Both are terrific, nay, they gob-smack you with their handling of emotions which oscillates from the sane to insane!
Their losing sanity for a brief moment, then getting clinical, to wondering where life has got them to and their dealing with the situation leaves you wide-eyed with amazement in the manner with which they sync to the plot.
Menon is in full flow, in complete control of the emotions of the two as they synchronize their moods to match with the situation of their respective partners who are in coma. There is no mistaking her genius as she guides every delicate scene with the hand of maturity.
And friends, where are they when you really need them?
Even with bit roles, Suhasini Mani Ratnam (making her debut in Bollywood) and Arjun Mathur come to haunt you. Never have flashbacks been used to tell a story so beautifully.
WAITING is all about waiting and Menon raises the bar of subtlety with her deft direction.
WAITING is a lesson in life...
WAITING is stark and makes you uncomfortable.
WAITING also has you making choices for the protagonists.
What are you 'WAITING' for?