Salaam Venky: Venky’s Spirit Deserves A Salute, But Not The Film

Too much melodrama!

Salaam Venky (Hindi)

  • Cast: Kajol, Vishal Jethwa, Ahana Kumra, Rahul Bose, Rajeev Khandelwal, Prakash Raj, Anant Mahadevan, Priya Mani, Kamal Sadanah, Maala Parvathi, Ridhi Kumar, Aneet Padda, and Aamir Khan (special appearance)
  • Director: Revathy
  • Producers: Suraj Singh, Shraddha Agrawal, and Varsha Kukreja
  • Music: Mithoon
  • Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes

Salaam Venky, directed by Revathy, reminds the audiences of several films, including Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guazaarish.

In fact, the debate surrounding euthanasia (mercy killing) in this Kajol-starrer is inspired by Bhansali’s directorial.

However, to Revathy’s credit, she also brings the angle of organ donation through the protagonist.

The other significant influence is the 1971 classic Anand.

The protagonist, Venky, is heavily influenced by the late Rajesh Khanna’s philosophy in Anand. He firmly believes that “life must be big irrespective of the longevity”.

In Salaam Venky, Revathy tries to merge these two aspects, but it is not entirely successful.

There are some truly heartfelt moments, including an extended cameo of a big actor. However, the film never achieves its full potential.

The storyline

For those who are not aware, the story of Salaam Venky is inspired by the novel Last Hurrah. The novel itself was inspired by the true story of the 24-year-old chess player Kolavennu Venkatesh.

The movie follows the journey of a patient with the life-threatening condition DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), which weakens the muscles from an early age.

Vishal Jethwa is Venkatesh Krishnan aka Venky. His mother is Sujatha Prasad (Kajol).

Venky was expected to live only 16 years. But his zest for life coupled with Sujata’s efforts made him reach 24; however, his death is now imminent. It is only a matter of time.

Venky wants to donate his organs before he dies and urges his mother to appeal for euthanasia. Naturally, Sujata is unwilling as she has not given up on her son yet.

But soon, she reconciles with this bitter truth and accepts her son’s wishes. She finds a lawyer named Parvez Alam (Rahul Bose) with the help of Dr Shekhar (Rajeev Khandelwal).

The court agrees to hear the case but there is still a long way to go. Of course, Venky loses the case but he sparks a much-needed debate.

Apart from the aforementioned characters, there is also Aamir Khan in an extended cameo. But only Kajol can see him!

What really worked?

Before getting into the negatives, it is necessary to say a few things about what works for the film.

Revathy extracts solid performances from most of her cast.

Kajol is resilient and vulnerable in equal parts. She balances both these aspects wonderfully. She is particularly good in the scenes where she is battling her inner demons.

However, the scene-stealer is easily Vishal Jethwa. He does a successful U-turn from his roles in Mardaani 2 and the web series Human, showing good range.

The filminess of Venky’s character would have been grating in the hands of a less capable actor, but Vishal more than rises to the occasion.

His cheerful attitude in the face of adversity does bring a smile to your face.

A particular mention must be made of Venky’s scenes with his love Nandini (Aneet Padda). They are heartwarming and provide some much-needed respite.

One of the other subplots worth mentioning here is the one between Kajol and Aamir. Aamir has a mysterious presence and whenever he appears, there is curiosity in the minds of the audience.

The scenes between the two are few, but they leave a solid impact. Aamir, in an extended cameo here, is more watchable than in his last two ventures.

What didn’t work?

The second half is definitely more gripping than the first. The courtroom scenes between Rahul Bose and Priya Mani, the opposing lawyer, have some meat.

The arguments for and against euthanasia along with organ donation give the film some of its best moments.

However, the biggest issue with Salaam Venky is the tone that Revathy adopts, particularly in the first half. There is too much melodrama, which is not really needed, given the explosive content.

Additionally, the dialogues with filmy references feel overdone after a particular point. On more than one occasion, these dialogues come across as cringe rather than fun.

Some of the other subplots could have also been avoided. The case in point is Venky’s father, who makes an unnecessary comeback, only to disappear after showing how insensitive he was as a father and husband in the flashback.

Aahana Kumara as the TV reporter also doesn’t add much to the plot. The TV debates shown are artificial.

Music by Mithoon is pleasant, but the songs could have been more heartfelt.

Overall, Salaam Venky has all the right ingredients, but the garnishing is the problem!

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