The theme of a person having only a few months to live and suddenly turning life upside down is not new, but it is the execution and the perspective that counts, isn’t it? That is certainly the case in Dasvidaniya, the 2008 Bollywood movie, starring Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor and Neha Dhupia. As Amar Kaul (Vinay Pathak) suddenly finds out that he has only 3 months to live due to stomach cancer, he is forced to reevaluate his life. Having spent his entire life making banal lists of banal things to do, he makes a final list of things to do, the things that he actually wants. The list of 10 things includes “love” (which should make it a memorable list for anyone with any number of years), having a photograph on the front page, and travel, which presumably can resonate with a lot of people, even seasoned travelers.
The entire cast fits right in. The editing is spot on – there is not a moment in the movie that looks made up or awkward. The movie has only a couple of songs, and they are very appropriate for their location. “Mumma”, sung by Kailash Kher, especially fits along nicely. Movies such as these make Bollywood richer, and the very normal/casual dialog delivery style of these so called “independent” movies is a pleasant change from the so called “blockbusters”.
There is a special message in the gifts that Amar Kaul leaves for everyone – he leaves things not in terms of monitory value and closeness of the relation, but only in terms of the need of the person. He does not leave the car (perhaps monetarily his biggest item) for his mother or brother, rather he leaves it for Savio, his music teacher since he needs it. He leaves the apartment for rent to the car saleswoman since she needs it. The mother and brother are left with each other as a family. He leaves a collection of his childhood memories for Neha, and a DVD set for Tatiana. He doesn’t leave anything per se for Rajiv Jhulka, but the list of things to do (the list of life), serves as his gift. He leaves the guitar for his ex boss – the connection there is that his boss took all the time that he had. So, he passes on the guitar to his boss, so his boss can now learn music, and Kaul can finally become the boss of the boss.
Finally, a note of thanks to the director for not spoiling the ending. It might have been very tempting to have the cancer go suddenly in remission (or even worse later found out that the results were mixed up or something) to finish the movie on a happy note. Instead however, the protagonist does indeed die, and still it is a very uplifting movie with an especially uplifting ending. Perhaps that is true for all of us – we can’t really choose the time of going, but if we can finish with a dasvidaniya, that wouldn’t be too bad.