There’s a drought of writers. Good writers. Screenwriters who bring substance and value to writing. The absence of a talented name like Sujit Sen, who wrote a number of films for Mahesh Bhatt and who penned the script of STAYING ALIVE, makes you recognize this fact all the more. STAYING ALIVE, a black comedy that borrows from real life, may not be riveting in entirety, but it makes an effort to say something novel, something inventive.
Aditya [Ananth Mahadevan], a newspaper sub-editor, suffers his third heart attack and finds himself in the ICCU of a hospital. On the bed next to him is Shaukat Ali [Saurabh Shukla], a gangster, who has suffered his first heart attack. While Shaukat is petrified of dying, Aditya scoffs at death. Gradually, Aditya ends up changing Shaukat’s outlook towards life. As Shaukat raves and rants through his stay in the ward, it gradually dawns upon him that Aditya is right and the greatest feeling was, simply, to be alive.
Shaukat decides to turn a new leaf and even becomes a police informer after his discharge from the hospital. But, ironically, gets shot by his underworld rivals for having had a change of heart.
Till a few years ago, who’d ever imagined an entire film [almost] in the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit? Besides an interesting plot, the film also boasts of some attention-grabbing moments, but the glitch is that it goes back and forth a couple of times and also the track involving a rival gangster [Khan Jahangir Khan] is underdeveloped. Besides, it unravels at a snail’s pace and a few sequences in the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit tend to get cyclic and monotonous.
There’s no denying that Ananth Mahadevan has handled some sequences very well, especially the portions between the two women. I’d also like to make a special mention of the effective channel of communication between Ananth and Saurabh at places.
STAYLING ALIVE is embellished with natural performances. Saurabh Shukla is remarkable, injecting the movie with some funny moments in an otherwise serious film. Ananth Mahadevan delivers a truly wonderful performance. Navni Parihar is top notch, essaying a difficult role with dexterity. Sunita Chhaya is first-rate as well, handling the emotional moments with élan. Chandan Roy Sanyal doesn’t get much scope. Khan Jahangir Khan [the rival gangster] is okay, while Sanjay Swaraj [the doctor] is decent.
On the whole, STAYING ALIVE is more of an experiment that holds appeal for a tiny segment of cineastes — those with an appetite for meaningful, festival films.