Taking the Akele Hum Akele Tum and Aandhi theme one step further, Prakash Jha commendably tackles the topic from the perspective of a child of divorce. Rahul is a warning on how adults will sometimes traumatize the lives of their offspring by using the kids as pawns against their ex-spouses.
Rahul (Yash Pathak) is one such pawn. The five year-old lives in relative middle-income harmony with his doting dad, Aakash (Jatin Grewal). Daddy dearest however is a possessive control freak (one of the most despicable, yet realistc, male protagonists I have seen in eons) who plants daily seeds of hatred in his childīs mind against his ex-wife. She did not love them enough and was īgandiī he reiterates each time the child brings up the topic of his mom. In spite of dadīs lectures however, Rahul yearns unrelentlessly for maternal affection and is eventually able to meet up with mom through the unwilling aid of Uncle John (Gulshan Grover), the travelling shop-keeper.
Meera (Neha), we discover, has also been craving contact with her child for years. Unfortunately, she is a very weak personality and spirit, living life as a marionette, with her rich family tightly holding the strings.
As Rahul struggles with his growing love for both parents, Aakash and Meera unknowingly begin using him as a weapon to hurt one anotherīs sentiments. And obviously the child has no means of coping on his own.
As long as Prakash Jha concentrates on telling his story from the childīs perspective, Rahul remains an excellent piece of film-making. This little boy is most loveable and is given true-to-life childrenīs attributes. As often witnessed in Bollywood cinema, luckily this time there are no profound dialogues coming out of the kidīs mouth. (Even moreso, each scene showing Rahulīs relationship with his best friend cum bully Isha Jadoogarni is a blast transporting us back to our own childhoods. You do remember those days, donīt you stupid?)
One empathizes with the horrible situation the poor central character is thrown into and newcomer Yash Pathak is so adorable and innocent, we cannot help but enjoy every second he is on screen.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his parents. Sure, we are meant not to like these characters much, but the performances are not much to write home about either. Ex-model Jatin Grewal as Aakash is very wooden and has difficulty registering expressions other than "angry" on his face. Few audience members are going to want to see him on screen again too, especially after he has played such an unlikeable guy.
Neha is competent in her role too, but I repeatedly wanted someone to hit her Meera over the head for being such a push-over and loser.
The audience has to be given some reason to like the leads in a movie, and I kept wishing the parents would get run over by a bus or train during the flick. Quite the contrary, Jha gives into movie-making convention and dishes out an unbelievably filmi ending to the tale. (Methinks the idea was probably that of Subhash Ghai, who backed part of the movie through Mukta Arts. Shashilal Nair just confirmed in an interview that Ghai butchered his original vision of Grahan also.)
Still, there is enough entertaining and endearing about many moments of Rahul which make it most watchable. Anu Malikīs sweet melodies, some great song picturizations, a strong lesson on life, and above all, my favourite depiction of a child in a very long time.