Salaam Venky

wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

Does a film about a mother and son grappling with the idea of euthanasia really need added drama and songs to say what it has to say? No. These water down the merit of the topic and the performances ☹

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Director: Revathy
Running time: 130 minutes
More Movie Info

“Dying with dignity” I have mulled over this a lot, and my thoughts align with the film’s agenda. So, the film’s arguments were like preaching to the choir for me. However, I was keen on knowing how the film stages the arguments on both sides. And I was left disappointed.

It is a shame that such capable actors, a powerful story, and an intense debate are tempered by the supposed need to make it more palatable.

Salaam to the effort of paying tribute to the person and family that made the advance directive a reality in India. Kudos for taking on a challenging, complicated, and controversial topic. Salute to creating awareness about organ donation as a concept.

But then, why the confusion? Simple questions like “Why couldn’t organs be donated after a natural death?” and “What was the legal status of euthanasia before the ‘Advance Directive’ was made legal?” are not given straightforward answers in the film. Of course, the writers must have known the answers. It feels like they assumed the audience would know too.

Then you have the melodramatisation of an already pretty dramatic situation. I am not talking about the emotional blackmail in the dialogue or the rubbing-it-in in every scene. After all, what do I know about how people, who know they will die soon, talk? Maybe, and arguably right in doing so, they cannot help milking their situation to get what they want. Maybe some of them cannot let people forget their looming end, even for a moment. As a viewer of the story, I found that annoying. Especially, for a person who is supposedly being practical about his death.

But that irritation was nothing compared to the misuse of background music throughout the film. Do I really need a string instrument to tell me that a holy person is about to deliver a philosophical sermon? Are 237 songs that take away from the fluidity of the narrative necessary? You have so much content in the basic material—doctors, lawyers, media, a mother-son relationship, and parent-kid dynamics, to name a few. Using these devices to guide emotions is a disservice to the substance of the story.

Interestingly, though, the grounded performances across the board take the edge off the over-the-top music and writing. It is admirable that with so much potential to go overboard, each actor was kept from and was able to stay restrained. This made their predicament real and their behaviour believable.

I am quite enjoying this version of Kajol—her third film I have seen as a formidable mother. Vishal Jethwa had a challenge that any actor would look forward to and does well even though I found his character borderline toxic at times. Rajeev Khandelwal brings ease to any character he plays as if he were meant to be the character, and the same goes for the doctor he plays here. I loved the simplicity Aneet Padda and Riddhi Kumar bring to the film, like naturally growing flora in a manicured lawn. It is their combined effort that brought tears.

Kudos for taking on a challenging, complicated, and controversial topic. Salute to creating awareness about organ donation as a concept.

It, indeed, is a shame that such capable actors, a powerful story, and an intense debate are tempered by the supposed need to make it more palatable. It is not like the film’s scale is such that it will appeal to what is known as the ‘masses’. Then why not have a subtler, more sensitive, and more mature approach to telling it? A poignant telling it would have been.

- meeta, a part of the audience

22 reviewers(?) - 9 yays 7 so-so 6 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Aditya MNI JHA, FirstPost : ...Under Revathy’s expert steerage, Salaam Venky also tackles these ugly truths at the intersection of law, medicine and sociology (much like her earlier film, Phir Milenge did). That it does so without compromising on narrative momentum is doubly admirable. Watch this accomplished tear-jerker with friends and family, I’d say, and feel free to bawl your eyes out afterwards.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nitin Jain, : ...The music of Salaam Venky is composed by Mithoon. Lyrics are penned by Mithoon, Sandeep Shrivastava and Kausar Munir. There is nothing much about music except the ‘Dhan Te Nan Zindagi’ song sung by Mohit Chauhan & Mithoon that attracts one’s attention, rest are mostly used as backgrounders.... full review

Thumbs up, by Grace Cyril, india today : ...Salaam Venky is a film that celebrates life and embraces passion. It fully encapsulates human spirit and in an unique way, shows how it's the birthright of everyone to choose their own journey in life. It stands out with its beauty, intellect and spirit. The film will teach you that life is short, so if you are upset, sad or feeling dejected, get up, rise and shine! Let's see that smile on your face like Venky.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devasheesh Pandey, India TV : ...Salaam Venky presents a deeply humane subject. It should be enjoyed with your near and dear ones.... full review

Thumbs up, by Hiren Kotwani, MiD DAY : ...To sum up, apart from the top-notch performances by Kajol and Jethwa, credit also goes to director Revathy’s treatment, aided by good writing (credit to Sameer Arora and Munir), that Salaam Venky doesn’t become a sob-fest.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Outstanding as the performances are, Salaam Venky does not eventually hinge on the glamour of a star. It is the story that is the star. The director does full justice to it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonil Dedhia, : ...Through its hiccups, Salaam Venky is a respectable outing by Revathy. The film s decidedly somber; with many moments to laugh about. Be warned though, overwhelming sadness will take a piece out of you and will even tear you up.... full review

Thumbs up, by Divya Bhonsale, NewsBytes : ...While Kajol and Jethwa are the stars of the film, their glitter could not have been possible without a strong cast put together by Revathy. With Rajeev Khandelwal as the doctor, Rahul Bose, and Priyamani as opposing lawyers, Prakash Raj as the judge, and Aahana Kumra as the journalist, every character including Riddhi Kumar and Aneet Padda have added life to this film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Dhaval Roy, Times of India : ...he last scene is so poignantly powerful that it will leave you misty-eyed. The heart-touching fare, replete with positivity as much as pain, is a must-watch.... full review

So-So, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Free Press Journal : ...Kajol has proved her acting ability time and again, she knows her zone, audience, camera angles, she is best when she cries. Revathy has made her look like Sujata, who is a mother of two kids and her stardom doesn’t take away one bit from the film. Vishal Jethwa is a firecracker. After Mardaani 2 (2019) and Human (2022), Salaam Venky is yet another testimony of his great craft. Rahul Bose, Rajeev Khandelwal, Aahana Kumra and Prakash Raj are good in their respective roles.... full review

So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Movie-mad Venky exchanging sweet nothings with a childhood sweetheart who happens to be visually impaired. Venky being chummy with his favourite nurse, teaching her to play chess.... full review

So-So, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...Revathy‘s conviction on the subject is something you want to believe, even if her storytelling transports you to a bygone era. Salaam Venky works because of emotions and human connection, and who can forget Anand‘s biggest on-screen lesson: “Zindagi lambi nahi badi honi chahiye…” Salaam Venky salutes this spirit, along with a mother’s brave choice in difficult situations. Watch it to learn that lesson again and to see Kajol’s heartfelt performance.... full review

So-So, by Karishma Shetty, Pinkvilla : ...Inspite of its many obvious flaws, Salaam Venky tends to work its charm thanks to Kajol, Vishal Jethwa and the carefully curated supporting cast's authenticity. Keep those tissues by your side, because it's a cry fest from start to finish.... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, : ...Kolavennu Venkatesh passed away in 2004, the same year Revathi’s Phir Milenge was released. Like its inspiration, the Hollywood film Philadelphia, Phir Milenge dealt with the subject of AIDS and unfair dismissal from work. Salaam Venky too tries to spotlight important issues and hopes to be a conversation starter. The intention is right, but this is too sorrowful a film that pries open a tiny crack of hope.... full review

So-So, by Shilpa Nair Anand, The Hindu : ...However, the advantage is that the movie could bring the focus back to organ donation, if not euthanasia for the terminally-ill. It is an uncomfortable, controversial topic, but the discussion has to start at some point.... full review

So-So, by Simran Khan, Times Now : ...Venky mouthing filmy lines may make you cringe a little and Sujata, on the other hand, will sometimes remind you of the mothers from typical 90s daily soaps. A few lines are so melodramatic that they even make you go 'WHAT?!' That said, Salaam Venky is perfect for those who need a good cry.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Salaam Venky remembers that it can not offord to be so human. WhT will people say ? So it reverts to being a difficulty escapist movie, where every scene lodges a formal request for our tears.... full review

Thumbs down, by Monika Rawal Kukreja, Hindustan Times : ...There's no way a film like Salaam Venky won't remind you of Shonali Bose's The Sky is Pink or R Balki's Paa and that's where you feel it could have been so much better and hard-hitting. The film may have had its heart at the right place, but the soul, I felt, was totally missing.... full review

Thumbs down, by Kartik Bhardwaj, indian express : ...In the film’s final act, Rahul Bose, who is the representing lawyer for Venky’s euthanasia appeal, presents a video in court to prove his client’s mental stability. The video is a bunch of interviews with those who were with Venky since his childhood. His teachers from the Ashram he grew up in, classmates talking about how optimistic he is, and staff members remembering his jovial nature. After the video, the presiding judge, played by Prakash Raj, takes a moment. He pauses, sighs and tells Rahul, “Can you please wrap up your closing argument without any more drama?”... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, Rediff : ...Kajol, shot in many flattering close-ups, does the best she can with the role though it is a bit limiting -- after all, how many expressions can an actor come up with to portray sorrow or misery? Vishal Jethwa (a big change for the actor, who played the villain in Mardaani 2) has the expressive face and eyes to do the role that has him immobile most of the time, and he does give the movie-crazy Venky a bright charm... full review

Thumbs down, by Pratikshya Mishra, The Quint : ...That’s perhaps what makes the film – lines on the script – because Salaam Venky is a powerful script on paper and an almost successful film on-screen but the former trumps the latter. And that…is unfortunate.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, The Telegraph : ...I began this review with Whose Life Is It, Anyway?. I end it with a reference to the same. That film, a work of fiction, felt authentic. This one, a true story, arguably more inspiring, comes across as packaged.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: A terminally ill person fights for his right to die with dignity.
  • General Look and Feel: A neat and clean presentation with a limited budget

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Salaam Venky - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
130 minutes

Comments (1)

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Dear Meetu, that's why I love your reviews because they are intensely honest, no one else sees the way you watch a movie. GREAT..!

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