Aye Zindagi review: Gale laga le! The Revathy film makes a sincere appeal for organ donation

Director Anirban Bose explores the tender equation between a donor’s kin and the recipient through a heartening film that is based on a true story.

Rating: 3 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

“Isn’t it strange that for one to live, one will have to die?” a severely sick Vinayak aka Vinay Chawla [Satyajeet Dubey] poses a pertinent question to his brother. Here’s a 27-year-old who never even sniffed alcohol, but he is diagnosed with Liver Cirrhosis. There is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease too. Anxieties galore as the human mind, heart experience various emotions during the waiting period, and then you’re often at loss for words to thank the donors, if you are lucky to get one and survive. We say this from personal experience.

Expressing gratitude at a time when the kin is in grief wouldn’t be ideal. Vinay though is at loss for words, and maybe even emotions. Director Anirban Bose’s Aye Zindagi explores the tender equation between a donor’s kin and the recipient. It’s a fine sensitive advert for encouraging organ donation in the country.

Often for such patients, it’s a test of resolve, patience and hope. That is where grief counsellors like Revathi Rajan [Revathy] come in handy, not just for the patients but also for the donor’s kin. She had spent the early part of her career in an eye bank. She’s now working for a top private [Global] hospital in Hyderabad that specialises in treating life-threatening ailments. Rajan often banks on that one line, “One donation can save the life of seven” to earn the respect and consent of the donor’s kin. Only a sensitive person is fit to handle such difficult tasks. Revathy’s Revathi Rajan has that sensitivity and maturity which isn’t lost during personal crisis.

Bose’s film is based on the life a Gwalior-born gentleman Luv who got a second chance at life in 2004, when he received a timely donation. He is not the first such recipient but what made this story incredible is the story behind the donation, and how this trip to Hyderabad was life changing in every sense.

Bose observes great sensitivity in bringing out Luv’s story to life.  Aye Zindagi largely stays true to its core idea i.e. encourage organ donation. The romantic aspect partly diverts the purpose, but it is all part of the story of Luv. The director scores an instant ace with the right cast. Satyajeet Dubey imbibes the pain, struggle, agony, patience of such patients convincingly. Mrinmayee Godbole imbibes the physique and soul of Manjula aka Manju Nair, the Keralite nurse finely. But it is Revathy who often steals the show in such tearjerker. The seasoned actor leaves you numb again. The tears do follow, but as always, Revathy emotes the internal turmoil of these characters very well. She showed great sensitivity as a director in Phir Milenge [2004] – a fiction tale of HIV patients.

Revathi conducts her duty whole heartedly, but also excels as a single mother to two teens – Nandan [Pranjal Trivedi] and Arundhati [Muskaan Agarwal]. This is a small but a happy family. In one scene, young Arundhati and Nandu express a desire to keep a cute little kitten as pet. The mother in Revathi turns down the proposal saying, “We can’t take the kitten home, as her cute mother would be looking for it.”  Seeing their joyous faces, Vinay wishes for a healthy and happy life like Nandan. Sometimes divine forces are all ears to our internal thoughts.

Most hospitals tend to conceal the identity of the donors. Medical science would have its good reason in doing so. Perhaps, it’s too much of an emotional ride for both the patient and the donor’s kin. It’s the identity of the donor that puts Vinay in an emotional shell. He is caught in his thoughts, afraid to confront the reality that he never wished.

From our personal experience, doctors are usually trained to not have any strong emotional connect with their patients.  Bose’s Dr. Kapoor [Hemant Kher] is a little too emotionally connected with Vinay. Kher’s average show doesn’t help either. The same can be said of Vinay’s bosses, colleagues in Lucknow. The film does question the attitude of some companies in dealing with critical medical issues of their employees. It also subtly questions the distribution of donated organs where there’s often a distinction between the haves and the have-nots.

Aye Zindagi makes it point in all earnest. It is backed by sensitive writing, engaging screenplay, sincere acts by the leads. Importantly, it strives to have the difficult but sensitive communication between patient and donor’s kin. It makes a sincere appeal for organ donation, but also gives hope to terminally ill patients.  Aye Zindagi, Gale Laga Le [Oh life, embrace me]. Gulzar’s thought-provoking lyrics and Suresh Wadkar’s soulful singing from the Sadma [1983] track plays in our mind. Embrace life, embrace Anirban Bose’s Aye Zindagi [2022].

The film is set to be released in theatres on 14 October.


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