Movie Review: Ventilator’s Ensemble Cast Is Its Greatest Strength

‘Ventilator’ is an important film and its experienced ensemble cast is undoubtedly its biggest strength. 

3 min read
The cast and crew of <i>Ventilator.</i> (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Statutory warning- DO NOT watch the trailer of Ventilator before you see the film. 80% of the film’s punches are in the trailer, not leaving much room for intrigue. In case you have already watched the trailer and are still curious enough to watch the film, here's what’s in store for you.

Ventilator is a multi starrer in the true sense and boasts not just of stars, but experienced and gifted performers. With 116 artistes, director Rajesh Mapuskar of Ferrari Ki Sawaari fame at its helm, director-actor Ashutosh Gowarikar in the lead role and Priyanka Chopra as the film’s producer, the stage is all set for this family drama.

The very idea of stealing Sachin Tendulkar's Ferrari in Ferrari Ki Sawaari was genius. Ventilator too has its roots in situational humour. In the film, seven days before the Ganesh festival, the patriarch of a large family suffers a stroke and is hooked onto a ventilator. The film unfolds in the hospital, where a bunch of his relatives have gathered hoping for his recovery. The film comes alive in the waiting room of the hospital. The family comes together for one man, but what unravels during the wait are age old disputes and complexities of their relationships. While the situation is rather grave, but the characters and their situations are quirky and lead to humorous moments.

It's a wonderful concept but the film is all over the place before the interval. The introduction of each character and their back stories make the first half lengthy. Most of the characters have been thrown in for the sake of humour, and seem to have little to do with the actual events in the film. The real story begins post the interval.

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The second half has drama, discord and a modern take on relationships. The father-son relationship depicted int he film will leave you teary eyed. The director and his ensemble cast deserve full credit for keeping the plot interesting. The film’s casting is undoubtedly its biggest strength. Gowariker plays a filmmaker in Ventilator too and this instantly makes his performance credible and effective.

Father-son duos played by Achyut Potdar & Sanjeev Shah, and also Abhijeet Chavan & Manmeet Pem, are perfect on-screen choices too. As for Swati Chitnis, Sukanya Kulkarni, Nana Joshi, Usha Nadkarni, Nilesh Divekar, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi... the list is long but each one of them shine in their characters.

It's a poetic coincidence that Dr Satish Alekar, the writer of Mahanirvan, a remarkable Indian play, is also one of the actors in Ventilator. Those who are familiar with Mahanirvan would comprehend this significance. Alekar is brilliant in the role of the father and he carries the film’s brilliant climax solely on his own shoulders.

Jitendra Joshi's character could have been better etched. He plays an uninitiated political worker who is constantly at loggerheads with his father, yet confused and devastated at the same time. While all the other actors have given very natural performances, Joshi stands out like a sore thumb. Despite these minor drawbacks, Ventilator is undoubtedly an important film.

Though the subject begs for better handling, the challenge of directing such a diverse ensemble cast is definitely noteworthy. The simplicity of the film’s songs like Baba and Ya Re Ya Saare Ya compliment the situations in the film very well.

Ventilator is definitely worth a watch this weekend.

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