Verdict: Smile Please handles an intense topic beautifully.
Choreographer-turned-fashion-designer-turned-director Vikram Phadnis’ first film Hrudayantar received much love for handling themes of illness in a family and its effect on the relationships of those involved. Smile Please is his second venture with similar themes and yet a drastically different outcome.
What’s Smile Please About:
A 30-odd-year old successful photographer Nandini Joshi (Mukta Barve) lives with her Appa (Satish Alekar) after her separation from her filmmaker husband Shishir Sarang (Prasad Oak). The estranged couple is on cordial terms, with their teenage daughter Nupur (Vedashree Mahajan) living with her father. Nupur is not exactly fond of her mother and harbors resentment towards her. However, things are not dramatic or ugly and life is going on for everyone. When Nandini is diagnosed with an early onset of dementia, her life as she knows it is disrupted. While grappling with her condition and dealing with the apprehension of what’s coming next, Nandini finds an unlikely friend and strong emotional support in Viraj (Lalit Prabhakar).
Just like his previous film Hrudayanatar, Smile Please is about relationships in times of medical crisis. However, Smile Please is much breezier and more contemporary in terms of treatment as well as dialogue. Lalit Prabhakar’s full-of-life Viraj is a 180 from Prabhakar’s vikshipta Gopal Rao in Anandi Gopal and he does a great job. Prasad Oak and Satish Alekar are perfect in their roles. Even little Vedashree Mahajan is impressive as the smart teenager who has to deal with life’s complications earlier than many adults. However, as always, Mukta Barve’s controlled performance is what breathes life into the film. Be it in heartbreaking scenes where she shows signs of dementia or the light-hearted scenes, Barve is brilliantly captivating. She refuses to add any melodrama in the film, keeping it real and graceful. Smile Please handles the issue of mental illness maturely and has its heart in the right place.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Smile Please does not delve deep into its characters and their lives before the film begins, scratching only the surface. Barring a few loopholes in the script, the film does not disappoint.
Why You Should Watch:
Smile Please is a wholesome film that speaks of mental illnesses in the right away. It has superb performances by Mukta Barve as well as the supporting cast members. Overall, Smile Please makes for a good one-time watch over the weekend.
Check out this fun interview with the Smile Please cast and crew: