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Movie Review: Smile Please

Banners: Hashtag Film Studio, Krtyavat Production, Everest Entertainment, Sunshine Studios

Producers: Nisha Sujan, Sanika Gandhi

Director: Vikram Phadnis

Cast: Mukta Barve, Lalit Prabhakar, Prasad Oak, Aditi Govitrikar, Trupti Khamkar, Satish Alekar, Vedashree Mahajan

Writers: Vikram Phadnis (Story and screenplay), Irawati Karnik (Screenplay & dialogue)

Music: Rohan-Rohan

Making a film on a not often discussed subject is a challenge. And when you are doing it in mainstream cinema, this makes it even more challenging.

Smile Please is the story of Nandini Joshi, a well-established photographer. She loves her work and it is what keeps her going. Her personal life revolves around her father, daughter Nupur and ex-husband Shishir. While her father and Shishir are a constant source of support for her, Nupur holds a grudge against her, so much so that she does not even acknowledge her presence. While Nandini is trying to balance her personal and professional life, she is diagnosed with dementia. This sends her entire life into a spin. It is at such a time that Viraj enters her life. He becomes her support and gives her a reason to smile again. How he does that, is what Smile Please is all about.

Vikram Phadnis’s story is sensitively written. Along with Irawati Karnik, he gives us a taut narrative. Special mention has to be made of Karnik’s dialogue work, which is never melodramatic. There are some elements in the story that bother. For example Nupur’s anger towards her mother does not have a valid explanation. Though Viraj plays an important role in Nandini’s life, it would have added to the story if there were a few more interactions between them, instead of just montages.

The camera work by Milind Jog is beautiful. He has aesthetically captured not just the actors but their surroundings as well. Rohan-Rohan’s music is just right for this emotional story.

What elevates Smile Please are the performances. Mukta Barve as Nandini is phenomenal. Her body language, her subtle portrayal of a dementia patient, her struggle as a mother, everything is top-notch. Lalit Prabhkar as Viraj is a treat to watch. He comes into the story just before the interval, but leaves an everlasting impact. Prasad Oak as Shishir proves that experience is so important. He plays the caring and sometimes jealous ex-husband with the right amount of emotion. Satish Alekar as Nandini’s father is endearing. Aditi Govitrikar as Nandini’s friend and doctor is decent. Vedashree Mahajan as Nupur does a good job. Trupti Khemkar as the house help stands out.

Verdict: Worth a dekho!

Rating: ***

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