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 My Brother... Nikhil
Director :
Music :
Starring :
 Vivek Philip
 Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, Victor Bannerjee, Lilette Dubey, Purab Kohli, Shyan Munshi, Dipannita Sharma, Shweta Kawaatre.

By Subhash K Jha, IANS Send to Friend

There's something happening to Hindi cinema this year. Something strange stirring exciting and path breaking. After Madhur Bhandarkar's PAGE 3 and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's BLACK, you'd think our cinema has given enough of the unconventional palate for the audience to chew on.

Download My Brother...Nikhil WallpapersNot so! Here comes MY BROTHER...NIKHIL, an intimate and yet far-reaching study of family ties, social castigation and the resilience that makes the human spirit ride over daunting adversities-much like the swimmer-hero of debutant director Onirban's heartwarming film who rides the oceans until oceanic events overtake his well-ordered life.

First things first, MY BROTHER...NIKHIL is a film about a very critical social cause, AIDS to be precise. The imprecise parameters of the complex issue are framed in a quaint but never over-emphasized or excessively well-ordered pyramid of montages.

In fact, the narrative moves to a contrary beat whereby sections of the heart-rending story open up to us almost like the petals of a reluctant flower that must blossom before it's too late.

Download My Brother...Nikhil WallpapersLike many of the new avant-garde directors, Onirban uses the Brechtian distancing device whereby the characters speak directly into the camera about the protagonist. We get to 'know' Nikhil, the bright promising sportsperson whose career life and self regard are shattered by tragedy, through the voices of his father Navin Kapoor (Victor Bannerjee), mom Anita (Lillete Dubey), friend and companion Nigel (Purab Kohli) and sister Anu (Juhi Chawla).

The multiplicities of voices never crowd the narrative. Could it be because the narrative favours stillness over shrillness? There are great moments of drama in the narrative, especially towards the end when the dying hero has to come to terms with his impending end.

Scenes between Nikhil and his loved ones will rip your heart open with their translucent candour. (I get tearful even as I write about those moments).

Onirban never milks the inherent tragedy of the theme for melodrama. As in the masterful BLACK, the emphasis in MY BROTHER...NIKHIL is on light rather than dark. The ocean-blue landscape quietly captured by Arvind Kannabiran's non-judgmental camera, weaves through these flawed lives like a stream winding its way through a craggy valley.

Not since Shyam Benegal's TRIKAL have characters looked so much at-home in Goa. As we peer into Nikhil's cozy world we, the spectators, are never made to feel like intruders but rather, like welcome guests.

The absence of mawkishness in the drama is a constant reminder of the new levels of maturity being attained by our cinema.

Less always seems more in MY BROTHER...NIKHIL. And that's part of its innate charm as a story and a slice of life that cuts a deep dent into our hearts without using a sharp knife.

There are no sharp edges in the narrative, no laboured attempts to get our attention, even in moments of heart-rending tragedy.

Download My Brother...Nikhil WallpapersI must single out the pre-climactic sequence where the dying Nikhil's father meets up with his son after two years of ostracization. Overwhelmed with emotion, Nikhil says, "Remember as a child you'd come to me in the night and promise to make my nightmares go away. Papa, make this nightmare go away."

It's a moment every sensitive viewer would carry in his heart forever. MY BROTHER...NIKHIL is suffused with enchanting moments, done-up in bright yet subtle tones that hold your attention without screaming for it.

Download My Brother...Nikhil WallpapersBesides its power to hold and heal without a shrill squeal the film's greatest triumph is the completely in-sync cast. Victor Bannerjee and Lillete Dubey, both very fine actors, live the anguish of parents who face the ignominy of ostracization in a close-knit conservative community. But the surprise is Purab Kohli. As Nikhil's soul mate Nigel, Kohli brings tremendous tenderness and moisture into the arteries of his difficult character. The sequence where he quietly clutches his dying friend's legs after a bitter quarrel shows how much spontaneity the actor brings to the material if he believes in it.

Download My Brother...Nikhil WallpapersJuhi Chawla, the eternal sunshine girl , is perfectly cast as Nikhil's endearing supportive and defiant sister. I couldn't help think back to Aishwarya Rai's sibling posturing with Shah Rukh Khan in that other Goan saga JOSH. Whereas Rai and Khan were blustering and dramatic, Chawla and Suri play their characters at an even tranquil keel.

Download My Brother...Nikhil WallpapersThe film is finally a triumph for producer Sanjay Suri. Playing the title character he gets the chance to play a role no other Indian actor has ever done. Nikhil's sexuality and his struggle to die with dignity are mapped on Suri's gentle face. He's so equipped to convey Nikhil's vulnerability that you wonder what has kept the film fraternity from proving him better opportunities.

A hurrah for Vivek Philip's music. The theme song (stunningly well sung by Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan and KK) reverberates across the moon-drenched mood of this mellow-drama. The tune and its words just sweep us away into a galaxy of heartbreaking feelings.

Download My Brother...Nikhil WallpapersUnlike the other recent film PHIR MILENGE about a protagonist's fight against the prejudices associated with AIDS, MY BROTHER...NIKHIL is neither inspired by a Hollywood source, nor does it get didactic and sermonistic. The social message on the stigma of the survivor is dealt with firm but soft hands.

The delicacy of the narrative reminds you of a dewdrop trembling on a large windswept leaf. Just how an emotion is perched in a plot is entirely up to the artiste who paints the scenario. And Nikhil's creators have their hearts at the right place.

Go celebrate a life that withers away in front of our eyes. But not before asserting its right to die with grace. And such grace, even under such daunting pressure!

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