Director: Shashant Shah
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey, Saurabh Shukla
Storyline: On discovering he has stomach cancer, an ordinary man makes
a list of things to do before he dies.
Bottomline: Half a classic
The tragedy about Dasvidaniya is that though it is a collection of great touching moments with a fantastic Vinay Pathak in a career best role, as a whole it falls short of being a classic. Hoping to cater to a larger audience, Dasvidaniya is shamelessly manipulative, milking the theme dry for sentiment.
Here’s the List of Things to Do writer Arshad Syed and director Shashant Shah came up with to make this movie as savvy as it could get for the lowest common denominator, deriving from Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
1. The It’s-All-In-The-Name Hypothesis. Call him Amar. It’s a cult
Hindi film name. Poetic for a man who’s dying. Cast the lovable Vinay Pathak in a role that’s been tried, tested and known to be effective by even less talented actors like Jimmy Shergill. If Jimmy could move you to tears in Munnabhai, imagine what Vinay can.
2. The Bad Boss Factor. If he had an evil boss who gave unreasonable deadlines when Amar is on his death-bed, it gives a chance for a conformist to put his feet down and rebel. People like to see the common man screw over the system.
3. The Great Indian Middle Class Aspiration. To buy a car and become upwardly mobile and hope that this would entirely change your life.
But does it really? Pack that angst into the film.
4. The Unrequited Love Syndrome. Which is more effective if Amar has been in love since his school days. If a full-grown man like Vinay could extract sympathy, imagine what a chubby little boy can do. Borrow that heartbreaking scene from Castaway. Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) goes to meet the love of his life only to find her married with
a kid and walks out in the rain and the camera stays on him long enough inside the car to move us to tears. Add a little Hindi film melodrama there (Read Kuch Kuch Hota Hai). Like a dumb charades game to profess his love. Vinay Pathak could be quite a killer here. (And he is!)
5. The Escape Methodology: What do you do when you reach a dead end? In a Hindi film, you take a flight to a foreign location for a little song and dance. It’s there in every common man’s list of things to do. To go to a place he’s never gone before.
6. The Dost Dost Na Raha Paradigm: What if you flew miles to meet your childhood friend and you are misunderstood? This has to be an equation where you have always shared everything with him and insisted he had the bigger piece.
7. The Devdas Effect: What if Chandramukhi was a Russian hooker? What could be more bitter-sweet than to find love just when your life is about to end? Heart-choking huh?
8. The Deewar Polarisation. Have one successful brother who has everything but Maa, a contrast to Amar, the other dutiful son with nothing else but Maa, cancer and a list of things to do. To make sure people get the tribute, throw it in casually with Suresh Menon doing a spoof.
9. The Maa-melodrama Staple. It’s most exploited if Maa also has some sort of a disability. Have a montage that underlines the mother-son bond having Amar sing ‘Mumma’. We know how ‘Maa’ songs work, especially after Taare Zameen Par.
10. The Immortality Paradox. Everyone wants to be famous even if it’s just for a day. And the obituary space is as far they get. Not too many people get to plan their funeral. Make Amar the exception. Now, that’s poignant.