A story of aging and despair dappled by dashes of warmth and humour Club 60 is embellished with endearing imperfections -jaunty editing, for one-which only add to its humane appeal. The film has so much love and warmth to give it breaks your heart to think that mortality could be so hurtful. But that's life. There is always death and despair around the corner.
Bereavement, in this case the loss of a child, has been done to ever-lasting brilliancy by Mahesh Bhatt in Saaraansh. What Club 60 does is to position the pain of the bereaved parents in a far less dramatic , far more natural habitat than the one occupied by Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi in Bhatt's film.
Mumbai with its cruelly dispassionate rhythms is the location for Sarika and Farooq Sheikh's unshed grief. Cinematographer Shymanand Jha shoots the city with reverent noiselessness. This is a world where Ritesh Batra's dabbawallahs from The Lunchbox are not visible. It's a world of high rise apartments, tennis courts and insulated tragedy where the upper-middleclass characters don't confront their sorrow until pushed to a corner.
Like shards of broken glass debutant director Sanjay Tripathi looks at broken lives of these autumnal characters with tender care and minute ministration.
Emotions rule over the plot. But the director never allows them to overwhelm the characters. There is a remarkable restrain in the depths of the anguish of the aged characters, epitomized by Sarika in a role that allows her true metier to emerge in beads of brilliance.
Playing a wife who must submerge her own grief at her only son's loss in face of her husband's monstrous depression Sarika brings much needed gravitas and dignity to her part. Her sequence in the balcony where she confronts her husband's demoniacal grief, or earlier when she asks the friendly shrink (Harsh Chhaya, finding meat in a skeletal role) if she is guilty of less grief than her husband, are illustrative of a talent that knows how to confront its character's emotions without losing perspective. After her ridiculous role as a doctor in Yash Chopra's Jab Tak Hai Jaan this is quite a homecoming for this underused actress.
Not that Farooq Sheikh lags behind. As a grieving father who won't allow his loss to be forgotten, Farooq hits all the right notes, treading that thin line between the melancholy and maudlin with majestic grace.
Shall I reveal the line? Yes, I think I should. Satish seething and hurting by the betrayal of a son who has married money and moved away Satish tells Farooq, "We've both lost our sons. The difference is, yours is dead and mine is alive."
Sanjay Tripathi's dialogues glimmer with a gorgeous depth of emotions. But the film never wallows in schmaltzy sentimentality. Towards the end the quest for a formal climax in the plot does turn the narrative into a mass of dramatic postures. That apart, there is so much to cling to in this story of hope for the hopeless; you can't thank the director enough for bringing that forgotten lump back into the throat.
Club 60 brings feelings back into our cinema. Love, loss, life….a lingering sense of playful yet pensive nostalgia runs through this sincere and moving film on autumnal lives. And yes, after a long there is melodious music. There are just 3-4 songs in the film. But they don't break the serene spell of the storytelling. The melody adds.
Likewise the cosmos covered by the film. So gentle and so much heart. You can't miss it.