Ahaan Review: A sweet, heartwarming & funny collision of two starkly different worlds of OCD & Down Syndrome
Ahaan brings together these two complex worlds and shines equal light on both while keeping you completely invested in its journey.
Ahaan Director: Nikhil Pherwani
Ahaan Cast: Arif Zakaria, Abuli Mamaji, Niharika Singh, Plabita Borthakur
Ahaan Rating: 3/5
Almost over a month after its limited theatrical release in India, Nikhil Pherwani's Ahaan has now come to Netflix. This isn't like your every second Bollywood masala film, but it definitely carries elements of surprise, drama and fun in the most heartwarming way. Bollywood has often put Alzheimer's, dyslexia and progeria under the spotlight, rarely the attention has been on down syndrome which affects at least 30,000 newborns every year in India. Director Nikhil Pherwani turns the light on this rarely talked about condition and couples it with another condition named obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Sounds heavy right? Well, it's not! Starring Arif Zakaria as Ozzy and Abuli Mamaji as Ahaan, Pherwani creates a collision of these two worlds and keeps you invested in this feel-good story. While Bollywood has only picked actors to play characters with certain conditions, Pherwani made the brave choice to cast Abuli Mamaji, a young man with down syndrome in the titular role.
Set in South Mumbai, the film revolves around Ahaan, a man with down syndrome and his neighbour Ozzy who suffers from severe OCD. When Ozzy's wife tells him that you won't have children because you cannot see the house in a mess, we know the severity of the situation.
Ahaan, on the other hand, is a starkly different person whose happy-go-lucky way of life simply brings joy to those around him. However, the director does not always paint a rosy picture as he highlights that even though Ahaan may be loved by many, he may still never be accepted by society, in the workplace or even his own father.
The film brings together these two complex worlds and shines equal light on both. When Ozzy's wife leaves him due to his OCD illness, he befriends Ahaan only to eat the lip-smacking chicken biryani cooked by her. The man, who once openly proved his displeasure over Ahaan visiting his home, now begins to build a relationship. And it is in these turn of events that Ozzy begins to look at the brighter side of life with Ahaan in the passenger seat.
Ozzy's hilarious encounters with the overcrowded city of Mumbai when he seeks help for OCD is another highlight. From travelling in public transport to walking barefoot on the polluted parts of the city's beaches, the director and camera team skillfully use Mumbai as a storytelling element.
Pherwani's direction oscillates from down syndrome to OCD and back to Ahaan, and while it may not be entirely seamless, it does not lose you. It is Ahaan's charming smile, Ozzy's exposure therapy and the gusto for life that will leave you smiling. The actors make us believe in their world and make us root for Ahaan's wish for a better and normal life.
Should you watch Ahaan?
If you are exhausted with the intense drama, thriller and horror content currently on streaming platforms, Ahaan provides the perfect warm and fuzzy break for a weekend watch. If not, we still recommend you to watch it to see Ahaan and Ozzy's hilarious drive and endearing moments.