Cast: Kajol, Vishal Jethwa, Aamir Khan, Rahul Bose, Priyamani, Ahana Kumra, Rajeev Khandelwal, Prakash Raj
‘Salaam Venky’ depicts the story of Sujata (Kajol) and her son Venkatesh, or Venky (Vishal Jethwa) – a bright and witty 24-year-old who has a rare degenerative condition known as muscle dystrophy. The film, which is now streaming on Zee5, shows Venky’s legal battle for euthanasia as his condition worsens.
‘Salaam Venky’ is a moving film with a strong storyline. Euthanasia, also known as assistive suicide, is a unique topic for Bollywood, and Revathi - the director who makes a brief appearance on screen herself - does a good job of shining light on the issue by exploring the ways in which degenerative conditions can impede an individual’s quality of life.
While euthanasia remains illegal in India and most countries around the world – with countries like Switzerland being rare exceptions – the topic continues to be a hotly debated one in scientific as well as academic circles. Although ‘Salaam Venky’ sometimes seems to forcibly merge the already serious topic of euthanasia with organ donations and the immense shortage of organ donors, the merger is not too confusing and does not get in the way of the overall plot.
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Kajol’s portrayal of Sujata - a mother who is dealing with her own demons while helplessly witnessing her son’s slow and painful final days - is an applause-worthy performance. Vishal Jethwa also paints a convincing portrayal of the titular character. Other noteworthy performances include those of Ridhi Kumar (who play Sharada) and Rahul Bose (who plays Lawyer Parvez), whose comparatively smaller parts are supported with great acting. Viewers will also see a few glimpses of Aamir Khan, whose performance, albeit a cameo, is as impactful as ever.
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Although some background scores feel superfluous, Kajol’s final lullaby as Venky approaches his inevitable end is a real tear-jerker.