Starring Abuli Mamaji, Arif Zakaria, Niharika Singh, Plabita Borthakur
Written & Directed by Nikhil Pherwani
The best thing about this short, sweet, benign drama is its upbeat mood. Even when the situation gets sticky for Ahaan, played by a real-life Down Syndrome-d chap, he is forever walking on sunshine. The film follows suit. It is frothy and ebullient,unwilling to bring in the clouds even rain is forecast.
Ahaan opens with the protagonist looking down from his room at boys playing cricket. We know how this sequence would go. There is very maturely portrayed relationship between Ahaan and his constant companion Hari (Haresh Raut) who is more than the domestic help. Hari is the brother, the sounding board and the cheerleader Ahaan never had.
When Ahaan’s surly OCD-stricken neighbour Ozzy’s wife leaves him, we know how it is going to go. If you crave for surprises in your cinematic experience, this is not your cup of chai. Ahaan moves in easy breezy predictable ways. It gives us not a great film. But a decent film with its heart in the right place.
Casting Abuli Mamaji as Ahaan is more than half the battle won. The rest of the cast plays along, some more than others. It must have been hard for Niharika Singh (once a part of that unusual film Miss Lovely, now barely seen) to play along as Arif Zakaria’s wife. They hardly look like a married couple.
But we play along, believing that they are actually married to one another. This is a film that suspends all disbelief, urges us to drop all cynicism and flow in Ahaan’s fragile world of half-truths. Gliding along that slippery hazy path, Ahaan is a gauzy woozy hopeful experience, like what we feel when the dentist applies novocaine. You know the pain is there under the surface. We all know it is not all balloons and beaches and icecreams and peaches for a specially abled man in India (or for that matter anywhere in the world).
As a cinema of wishful thinking Ahaan strikes the right dreamy notes. Midway the plot runs out of steam. An eccentric psychiatrist (Rajit Kapur) is brought into the scene. He cures Arif Zakaria’s OCD by forcing him to attend to nature’s call in a public toilet. It’s called, get this, Exposure Therapy. Then there is a picnic where Ahaan and the girl he likes (Bombay Begums’ Plabita Borthakur) are joined by Ozzy and Anu.
Life, as seen through director Nikhil Pherwani’s eyes, is a picnic. It all seems too good to be true. But then when life serves you chocolates you can always make brownies a business proposition. Since chocolate brownies play an important part in this sweet-toothed talcum-sprinkled film, it gets brownie points for making life look so rosy for a person who walks with chains on his feet but dreams of flying.