Ahaan captures everything you'd expect from a film that tackles disorders like OCD and Down's Syndrome.
In a country full of stereotypical cinema, you rarely come across thought-provoking films that leave you feeling too many things. Nikhil Pherwani's directorial debut film, Ahaan does just that! I'm not sure what I love more about this film, the cast, the storyline, or what it stands for.
Cast - For the role of Ahaan, Nikhil Pherwani chose Abuli Mamaji, a 45-year-old with Down's Syndrome who loves to act in real life, which gave this film so much more meaning. Mamaji added a natural flow to Ahaan by giving us a character we laughed and wept with. A supremely talented Arif Zakaria for Ozzy, who delivers his dialogues in a no nonsensical manner while portraying his various emotions so well. In spite of using such a strong star cast in supporting roles, I am floored at how the entire film comes together. No one role overpowers the other and it’s like these roles were written only for them.
Storyline - The story revolves around Ahaan (Abuli Mamaji), a 25-year old man with Down's Syndrome, and Ozzy (Arif Zakaria), a middle-aged man with OCD and takes us through their respective journeys of living in a non-inclusive society that doesn't understand multi-system disorders. Circumstances make the two protagonists spend time together, which leads to Ahaan opening up to Ozzy about his aspirations and dreams who then helps him put them into action. Nikhil has weaved OCD and Down's Syndrome in a beautiful storyline where neither takes limelight over the other and they sync in so effortlessly.
What I love - This movie normalizes seeking help from a professional therapist for OCD and recognizes this as a genuine disorder instead of using it as comic relief. It also portrays Down's Syndrome just as it is, without any extra drama, pretense, or downplay. Ahaan’s father refusing to take him along for an award function because deep down he felt ashamed or Ozzy asking Ahaan to grow up and stop acting like a child because he doesn’t understand Down's Syndrome. Ahaan wanting things that you and I would also want and pursuing them with determination and courage, Ozzy putting in the effort to fix his marriage by meeting with a therapist for OCD and going through with his suggestions, this film leaves you with one thought that people with disorders don’t need your sympathy. Instead, they need your understanding.
While this movie had a theatrical release on March 19 this year, it was available to the audience only on May 15, 2021, on Netflix.
Check the trailer out here!
I love that the film is open-ended but not dull in the least. It left me wondering whether I understand anything at all because there’s so much to learn to be a good ally. Ahaan is raw, endearing, kind and so simple that it makes you smile. It leaves you teary-eyed and full of hope!