An irresponsible father, a loving mother, an accusing society, a pitiful uncle, a struggle against all odds, a love story between mother and coach, a school bully, father comes back, preachy messages and a last minute nail-biting finale.
Irresponsible father and loving mother yes, but Yellow stops at that. This is no run-of-the mill sob fest, nor is it a preach-a-thon at the end of which you are left with an overdose of thought. It is a simple story of how a mother’s only wish is to ensure that her daughter gets the respect she deserves from society. Yellow is Gauri’s story.
Gauri has Down’s Syndrome and lives life on her own terms. Her mother Mugdha (wonderfully portrayed by Mrinal Kulkarni) leaves her husband (Manoj Joshi in a small but impactful role) after he attempts to let Gauri drown in hopes to take a chance to restart the family and beget a child who can live his dreams and not one he is ashamed to talk about in public. Mugdha’s brother Shri (Hrishikesh Joshi) supports the mother and child. He is the voice of reason whenever Mugdha doesn’t know the way ahead.
Gauri grows up is stubborn, fun-loving and extremely fond of playing pranks – being ‘Denise the Menace’ to fellow residents in the building. What starts off as swimming lessons to improve eye-hand co-ordination, turns out to be the turning point in Gauri’s life – she finds her true calling and goes on to win a silver in swimming at the Olympics. She is trained by a strict swimming coach (Upendra Limaye in yet another power-packed performance) who leaves no stone unturned to make her a competitive fighter. He refuses to see her as a ‘special’ child and treats her as he would any of his protégés. One of the most memorable scenes is when the coach digresses from his usual teaching style to teach Gauri the butterfly stroke by incorporating the lesson in a story – and Gauri’s immediate responsiveness to the story as she masters the stroke effortlessly.
There are no distracting sub plots and the entire focus is on the central character. If she isn’t in a scene, she is being talked about in it.. Debutante director Mahesh Limaye has delivered a fine movie and has managed to extract a brilliant performance from the entire cast. What is most heart warming is to see Gauri Gadgil playing herself in the movie. Any other actor in her shoes wouldn’t have been able to have that impact. With Gauri, you know that every emotion is as real as it can be. You smile when she smiles, you feel satisfied as she sleeps after a hard day at the pool, you get annoyed at the coach for his grueling practice sessions, you feel warmth when you look at her mother smile. And you gotta see this girl in water! Strong powerful strokes, lithe body and the grace of a fish under water – makes you wanna jump off your seat and be a part of her water world!
The movie teaches us to be humane. Its central message is summed up in a line that one of Gauri’s teachers says, “It is important to accept these kids than to expect from them”. Don’t treat these children as a liability. With a little more patience and the right training, they can turn in to assets that you will be proud off – as in case of Gauri’s father when he sees his daughter’s photograph in the newspaper. The movie is not content at just leaving it as a creative narration. It moves beyond and gives a positive insight to its viewers.
At the end of it all, you know there’s much more to Gauri that makes her a ‘special’ child.