“Salaam Venky” is a deeply stirring and inspirational cinematic journey, drawing its inspiration from the remarkable true story of Venkatesh, brilliantly portrayed by Vishal Jethwa. He’s not just a chess enthusiast; he’s a spirited young warrior in a relentless battle against a rare adversary.
The narrative unfolds as Venky grapples with his deteriorating physical condition, while simultaneously engaging in a legal crusade for euthanasia, with the noble intention of donating his organs before the relentless march of the disease renders them unusable. His unwavering spirit, a doting mother (portrayed by the Kajol), a dedicated lawyer, and a compassionate journalist join forces to champion his cause – the right to die with dignity.
The film skillfully navigates the intricate web of the euthanasia debate, deftly balancing the profound questions it poses. On one side lies the profound consideration for the sufferer’s dignity and the alleviation of their pain. On the other, the spectre of potential misuse, if euthanasia were to be legalized, looms large, challenging the very notions of right and wrong.
“Salaam Venky” invites audiences into this nuanced conversation, offering an additional layer of complexity through the undeniable purity of Venky’s intentions.
Despite his physical limitations, Venky exudes a remarkable positivity and humour that often manifests through his jests about his condition – moments that both warm the heart and unsettle his mother and sister. The film tenderly depicts the profound bond between Venky and his mother, evoking poignant scenes of communication through sign language and the unspoken connection between them, even as his voice fades. When the judge (played by Prakash Raj) visits Venky at the hospital, Sujatha, with immense pride, assures him that her son is smiling behind the loss of facial muscle movement.
In addition to the compelling euthanasia discourse, the film artfully weaves the emotional threads of Venky’s backstory, including his abandonment by his father and his mother’s Herculean efforts in raising him against all odds. It is a story enriched by the outpouring of love and care from his doctor (Rajeev Khandelwal), nurses, sister, and girlfriend, all contributing to the film’s profoundly heartrending narrative.
The performances in “Salaam Venky” are nothing short of extraordinary. Vishal and Kajol both deliver standout performances that tug at the heartstrings. Kajol’s portrayal of a mother wrestling with the complex emotions of grief, hope, and the agonizing decision to let her son go is particularly moving. Rahul Bose, as Venky’s lawyer, and Aamir Khan, in an enigmatic role symbolizing Sujatha’s conscience, further elevate the film with their stellar acting.
The film also shines a light on bureaucratic hurdles and deliberate delays by government committees, fully aware of Venky’s limited time. It wisely refrains from rendering judgment on the legal verdict, underscoring the difficulty of rapid legal change while emphasizing the importance of igniting a critical conversation.
The film’s powerful final scene leaves an indelible impression, evoking deep emotions. “Salaam Venky” is an absolute must-watch, offering a compelling narrative brimming with both optimism and profound emotional depth.
Revati ( director) had said that Aamir Khan’s character is not mentioned in that book. She has kept it as a surprise package. The film is based on the book “The Last Hurrah” by Shrikanth Murthy which is based on the real-life events of Kolavennu Venkatesh, chess champion and his mother K. Sujata.
My rating 4.5 / 5
It is an emotional film that touches the heart. If you are an emotional person ( as I am), keep a good supply of napkins or a big hankey to wipe a bucket full of tears.