Long stuck in the cans, Nagesh Kukunoor’s John Abraham starrer Aashayein is not a bad film but at the same time it doesn’t deserve to be called a good film either. Nagesh Kukunoor who has been having a bad run of sorts with his films since last two and a half years somehow misses the bus yet again. He had a paper thin plot in his hand which has been handled earlier before in more effective way but unimaginative writing mars all the good prospects of Aashayein down.
Rahul (John) is a compulsive gambler who has always been on the losing side but finally lady luck smiles and he wins a jackpot of Rs. 3 crore, no less! He throws a party for his close friends and proposes marriage to his long standing girlfriend Nafisa (Sonal Sehgal). While she accepts it, he collapses on the ground. Doctors diagnose him with lung cancer. Knowing well he has just 3 months in hands to leave, he doesn’t want to make a mess of Nafisa’s life so leaves her leaving behind a huge bagful of money. He heads straight to a hospice in Pondicherry to spend rest of his remaining days. After donating big fat sum to the hospice head (Prateeksha Lonkar) Rahul gets to stay in the hospice but on the condition that he will follow their rules. Out there he encounters a retired banker, G. Parthasarthi (Girish Karnad) who has lost his ability to speak, a middle-aged, high class, ex-prostitute, Madhu (Farida Jalal) who has AIDS, a 17-year-old rude but high spirited cancer patient, Padma (Anaitha Nair) and a child, Govinda (Ashwin Chitale, the wonder boy from Marathi film Shwaas), who loves comics, and possess spiritual powers. How Rahul’s approach towards his journey towards his inevitable death changes and how he manages to make a vital difference in the lives of all those he encounters at the hospice forms the rest part of the film.
Kukunoor comes straight to the point and establishes the cancer part in the initial reels itself without wasting much time but once the setting shifts to the hospice the pace drops down drastically. The screenplay moves along at a snail’s pace from thereon. Problems crop up with the Indiana Jones fantasy element being dedicated a good lot amount of time which doesn’t add much. But to be fair, what holds your attention is John’s honest performance and Anaitha Nair’s spunky act. The tender love story that develops between the two diversely opposite personalities has been superbly captured. The Wish Fairy Club part is sweet too and Shreyas Talpade’s song number manages to enliven the proceedings. However, the film could have avoided the stereotype of a father (Girish Karnad) not wanting to meet his own family as being angry with them.
You can notice John giving it his all to portray his character. In fact in the last few reels you simply forget you are watching John Abraham the cool dude star. It is definitely an award worthy act. Anaitha Nair, best remembered for her Chak De India role is terrific and deserves to get more such challenging roles. In a relatively smaller role, Sonal Sehgal, playing John’s understanding girl friend manages to impress. Farida Jalal is sweet as usual. Girish Karnad is good and so is Prateeksha Lonkar.
Had Kukunoor not deviated from the main plot into the fantasy world, the film could have been recommended watch. However, it can be watched if you have nothing else to do or are a hardcore John Abraham fan.