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Monday, December 11, 2023

Ahaan Review: Sweet, Simple & Endearing Special Needs Friendship Film

Directed by Nikhil Pherwani, Ahaan, a heartwarming tale of the most unlikely of friendships stars Arif Zakaria, Niharika Singh, Plabita Borthakur, Rajit Kapur and Introduces Abuli Mamaji, a young man with Down Syndrome in the titular role.

A Will Finds Way Films production, this slice-of-life film which released in Mumbai on 19th March 2021.

The story chronicles the life of an endearing young man with Down Syndrome Ahaan (Abuli) who becomes friends with a self-indulgent man Ozzy (Arif) suffering from OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder).

As their friendship grows, they go on to develop new perspectives on life. Ozzy taking Ahaan’s help in his desperate attempt to win his wife back, and as he does so, he forms a great bond with him.

After spending time with Ahaan, Ozzy realizes that people complicate simple things and fail to enjoy the beauty of life.

Recently, Hollywood showed an amiable, unlikely friendship with the main character as Down Syndrome in Peanut Butter Falcon, which is a poignant and hopeful watch.

Given the fact there are very few stories on special needs and Down Syndrome in Hindi cinema, Ahaan is already a winner due to the concept and what it aspires to do.

What I find quite refreshing is that the movie is not drenched in pulling the heartstrings or emotional burden. The situations and the backdrop is real, raw and relatable.

When Ahaan is asked, “What do you want to be in the next 10 years?” He innocently responds: “Ahaan.”

That dialogue beautifully captures the movie’s soul, which is to humanise and raise awareness of people who suffer from Down Syndrome.

There is an insight into the impact the illness might have on individuals (and people around them) as well as their respective dreams and aspirations.

Even though Ozzy’s character, we understand how life can be for a person who suffers from Obsessive-compulsive disorder and the impact this can have on people around them.

It is fascinating to see how the unlikely friendship develops between both the protagonists, whereby both find completeness in an otherwise incomplete life.

Kudos go to terrific actors like Arif Zakaria, Niharika Singh, Plabita Borthakur, Shilpa Mehta and Rajit Kapoor unite to extend their support towards such a heartfelt narrative. 

Arif, in particular as Ozzy, is first-rate. The portrayal seems organic and real – where his character could be anyone we see on the street. He commands a solid presence, too.

Abuli Mamaji is a joy to watch on-screen. He breathes life into a beautiful character like Ahaan and presents all aspects of the character in such a delightful way. A job well done!

The concept and performances work quite well for me, though I feel depth is somewhat lacking in the film, this could perhaps be due to its simplistic approach.

How Ozzy overcomes his OCD and a resolution for Ahaan’s situation is quickly concluded.

In a short length of 1 hour and 20 minutes, I feel that an extra hour on how the two individuals – especially Ahaan – deals with life situations as he attempts to pursue his dreams and ambitions.

Also, I understand that the film is made on a modest budget. However, I feel sharper editing, cinematography and other technical aspects would’ve enhanced the movie’s appeal.

Having said that, there are some films that have their soul is in right place to educate, enlighten and endear through a visual medium. Ahaan is one such movie.

For film enthusiasts and consumers, It is all about supporting good cinema and films which have the right intention. 

⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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