Saturday, April 30, 2005

Waqt - The Race Against Time

There is an old adage that by providing our children with all that we never had, we may be denying them the things that we did gain. This basically sums up Waqt – The Race Against Time.

Ishwar (Amitabh Bachchan) owns a toy manufacturing company, but hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings. His son, Aditya aka Adi (Akshay Kumar) is the apple of his eye, and Ishwar fulfils his every whim, including in one instance, hiring a plane for a picnic. Ishwar’s wife, Sumi (Shefali Shah) is the conscience keeper of the family. She disapproves of such excesses on the part of Adi, and her constant struggle is to make Ishwar see his error in indulging Adi. At the heart of all this, is a secret that Ishwar and Sumi share.

Pooja (Priyanka Chopra) and Adi are in love with each other and elope to marry. Ishwar forgives this. He then finds out and is delighted to know that the bride is Pooja, the daughter of an annoying Nattu (Boman Irani) who is always taunting him with his petty one-upmanship. Add to this equation, a deadpan Lakshman (Rajpal Yadav), who is a little low on the uptake.

Sumi frowns upon the fact that Adi is yet to become a responsible adult. To add to this, Pooja is pregnant. Sumi wonders how Adi will handle his responsibilities if he can’t stand on his own feet. With a hard heart, Ishwar throws his son out of the house so that he may learn to fend for himself and his growing family. Adi is initially amused, then shocked by this. He begins to work as a stuntman while preparing to participate in a talent search for a film hero. The rift between the father and son widens. The rest of the movie is about how Adi finally makes it big in life, only to realise, that his battle wasn’t with his father all along, but with time.

On the whole, the basic premise of the movie, on the roles of parents and children, is thought provoking. One interesting aspect of the movie is the evolution of Amitabh Bachhan’s character from being a friend to his son, to being a parent who must teach him responsibility. Despite this, there’s a light vein maintained through most of the movie.

Performance-wise, Shefali Shah catches one’s attention with her restraint and dignity. No melodramatic scenes or emotional blackmail for this screen mom! There’s a camaraderie that she manages to capture in her relationship with Ishwar. Amitabh Bachchan gets to essay a range of emotions, and he’s does it with ease. This is one of Akshay Kumar’s better performances, especially in the second half. Priyanka Chopra is adequate. Boman Irani is brilliant as usual, especially in the scenes when he’s trying to run Ishwar down. Rajpal Yadav launches into questions in scene one, and doesn’t let up on them right till the end.

The director, Vipul Amrutlal Shah, excels in plays turned to film. His earlier venture, Aankhen (about three blind men robbing a bank), was a Gujarati play, and so is this one. His partnership with Aatish Kapadia (Story, Screenplay & Dialogues) seems to be taking this team from strength to strength. Anu Malik’s music is, well, Anu Malik’s music. Miraksam may well become the baraat song of the year.

Those who enjoyed Baghban – you’ll like this family drama, although it does get a little morose towards the end. Thankfully, there are no ‘regret-flashbacks’ for any of the characters. Verdict – a three-hanky movie, but only in the second half.

(edited version published on April 30, 2005 in Madras Plus, the city features supplement of The Economic Times, Chennai) Photo courtesy :

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