Ahaan Review : A heartwarming, sensitive watch

STORY: Whenever Ahaan, a carefree young man with Down syndrome, crosses paths with Ozzy, who has severe OCD, sparks fly out. But soon Ahaan’s laid-back and endearing nature ignites a transformation in Ozzy.

REVISION: At first glance, the life of twenty-five-year-old Ahaan (Abuli Mamaji) seems to focus on delivering biscuits and cakes for his mother’s (Shilpa Mehta) baking company. But a closer look reveals that Ahaan longs for a life that he can call his own. He often tells his caretaker, Hari (Haresh Raut), that he wants a real job, a wife, children, maybe a normal life that any twenty-something would aspire to. But the reality of Ahaan is different. Being Down syndrome, he is under the protective shield of his parents, especially his father (Kaizaad Kotwal), who is wary of him interacting with the other young people in the building. And so for Ahaan, his daily brownie delivery walks become the highlight of his life, as it is his only chance to freely interact with the people around him. And one such person is Anu (Niharika Singh), who is a regular buyer of her mother’s brownies and shares a warm friendship with Ahaan. Every time he visits her to drop off a box, they chat and sometimes even end up being invited to a homemade biryani. But Anu’s husband, Ozzy (Arif Zakaria), cannot handle these visits due to his OCD. As Ozzy’s behavior soon turns nasty and rude, Anu decides to quit. Realizing that Ahaan is now his only way to connect with and get Anu back, Ozzy decides to befriend him, albeit briefly.

Nikhil Pherwani, who has written and directed ‘Ahaan’, infuses the film’s narrative with a warm energy, even as he brings to light the life, limitations and aspirations of a person with Down syndrome. And to the filmmaker’s credit, he does it without lecturing and with a lot of empathy. What really sets ‘Ahaan’ apart is the cast, as it features an actor with Down syndrome, Abuli Mamaji, to represent his, a novelty in a Hindi film. And one can’t help but connect with Ahaan instantly as Abuli Mamaji’s carefree and innocent vibe is contagious and lends itself to her character’s personality. The actor certainly makes a charming and confident debut.

And the credible performances of the cast ensure that the energy of the film never wanes. Arif Zakaria completely blends in with the temperamental Ozzy and is the perfect complement to Ahaan’s lovable yet sensitive nature. Niharika Singh and Plabita Borthakur are effectively adding up with their lighthearted and pleasant acts. Rajit Kapur makes a short but shocking appearance.

‘Ahaan’ is an important film as well as a moving and joyous watch. Certainly take the time for this one.

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