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Salaam Venky review: Kajol and Vishal Jethwa's overly dramatic film will make you cry, but that's the escape route

Although the notion is heartbreaking, the key actors' performances lack depth as a result of the dialogue that is handed to them.

Salaam Venky review: Kajol and Vishal Jethwa's overly dramatic film will make you cry, but that's the escape route
Kajol and Vishal Jethwa in Salaam Venky

Last Updated: 11.43 AM, Dec 09, 2022


Based on a real-life incident, Venkatesh (Vishal Jethwa) and Sujata (Kajol) question medical theory. Venkatesh is only expected to live for 16 years because he has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative condition. Venkatesh overcame all obstacles thanks to his tenacity, inspiring human spirit, and shocking medical science. He becomes a hero among his contemporaries toward the conclusion of his life, when he is 24 years old. In just 15 days, the ever-smiling Venkatesh defies the government and the law to donate his organs before he passes away, winning everyone's hearts in the process. Venkatesh leaves behind a legacy and a culture of prevailing discourse.


In 2004, Revathi released Phir Milenge, a film dealing with the subject of AIDS. The film, which starred Salman Khan and Shilpa Shetty Kundra in the lead roles, came as a surprise to many. Reason? The film showed two actors giving up their vanity to talk about something very important, and it was commendable of Revathi to even have the thought of casting them in it.


Salaam Venky is her third major directorial effort, and it also saw her lead actor Kajol do something we haven't seen her do in the last three decades. Yes, I am talking about subtlety! For an experienced actor like her, any expression to be bestowed on the screen should come in handy. However, the film breaks a bubble about subtle acting, which is a slightly difficult nerve to break. Kajol's ability to calm down looked believably tough as we watched her unravel it on screen.

The film shows her as a single mother living her life only to keep her son Venky (Vishal Jethwa), who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, alive. The film is based on the life and times of Konnavelu Venkatesh (who lived till the age of 25) and his mother Sujatha; a take on his life has been adapted in the book The Last Hurrah by Shrikant Murthy.

Tear-jerking moments in films can make you bawl like a baby, but when you think about them, they may turn out to be empty vessels. Salaam Venky borderline suffers from this, as does Goodbye, which was released about two months ago. Just because a film makes you laugh or cry doesn't mean it can turn out to be a good one, which has been the case in the movies being released recently.

The humane part of Salaam Venky is something that seemed like a cakewalk for Revathy, as she has touched the human chords with her previous films and also as an actor, which she has been excelling at for four decades.

Talking about the movie, it looks at the case of euthanasia, which Bollywood fans first saw in depth in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Guzaarish with Hrithik Roshan. In one of the court sequences in Salaam Venky, Priyamani Raj, as a lawyer, talks about the cons of mercy killing with the intention of organ donation. As a result, the case becomes more complicated while also showing how justice can be served to the suffering patient.

The towering performance of Vishal, who made his Bollywood debut with Mardaani 2, was seen playing the role of a serial killer and rapist in his 20s. His menacing act set a benchmark for antagonists in movies. He slips into the character of Venky, showing how he is keen to bring out his range as an actor, and passes with flying colours too. With limited bodily movements, Vishal relies entirely on his facial expressions and lets his eyes do the talking. One of the most heartbreaking scenes showing his incredible acting prowess is when he screams "Amma," with a lot of pain and sadness that will leave your gut wrenched instantly. Not just that, he also excels in the sequences where he has to express himself via sign language and when he has to show that his life is colourful irrespective of his physical deformities.

Another memorable performance is by Riddhi Kumar, who plays Venky's sister Shraddha. Earlier this year, she debuted her hallucinated and disturbing performance in Disney+'s Hotstar's Human. However, with her presence and performance in Salaam Venky, the scenes become more deep and emotional.

When it comes to Kajol, she is well-known for her outstanding performances in films as well as her over-the-top emotions. Like mentioned earlier, the actor had to bring down the emotional quotient, which fails to work in some places. However, you are gripped when she lights up on the screen. But perhaps this was not the coffee-loving actor's cup of tea.

Salaam Venky tells the whole story of Sujatha's life, from when she was a single mother taking care of her son, who had been sick since he was a child, to when she finally gave in to her son Venky's noble idea of donating his organs and seeking mercy-killing.

Sammeer Arora has penned the screenplay for Salaam Venky, with additional work done by Kausar Munir. The idea of family drama translates only with a higher emotional quotient on screen, and you may even leave with moist eyes. But the performances aren't as good as they could be because the dialogue is too dramatic. This takes away some of the practicality that the movie should have.

The film is credited as a Mithoon musical, but none of the songs stays after you leave the film. However, the song Jo Tum Saath Ho, crooned by Shreya Ghoshal and Arijit Singh, gives a little impact as a soothing track but not as a part of the narrative.

Salaam Venky suffers for being overly dramatic but also will stay in people's minds for having a beautiful special appearance by Aamir Khan. The actor bounces back and forth in the film, just like Shah Rukh Khan did in Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. This makes Aamir leave a lasting impression.


Salaam Venky takes the route of Guzaarish in terms of not only the premise but also the execution. The thought is gut-wrenching, but the performances of the lead actors lack depth due to the dialogue given to them.

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