Ahaan (Abuli Mamaji) is 25 years old and like many young men, dreams of a steady job, a nice house, a wife and two children. For now, Ahaan helps his home chef mother (Shilpa Mehta) with her deliveries. His father (Kaizaad Kotwal) is an stroppy man with little affection towards Ahaan, who has Down syndrome.

Among other places, Ahaan delivers his mother’s home-made brownies to Anu (Niharika Singh) and Ozzy (Arif Zakaria). This childless couple is having troubles of their own, stemming mainly from Ozzy’s obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anu sees Ahaan as a sweet boy, while Ozzy is rattled by him. Ahaan’s conduct and attitude often causes those around him – including a cute neighbour (Plabita Borthakur) – to misinterpret his inexperience and guilelessness.

Through the unlikely friendship between Ozzy and Ahaan, writer-director Nikhil Pherwani tells the story of a camaraderie that develops over a shared appreciation for Anu’s cooking. Although Ozzy manipulates Ahaan for his own ends, over time through Ahaan, who takes the world at face value and sees the good in all, Ozzy reconnects with his softer, more paternal side.

In Ozzy, Ahaan finds the father figure he has sorely lacked, someone who can guide him in matters of the heart and give him the confidence to get out into the real world. Ozzy and Ahaan also represent two ends of the spectrum – obsessive control on one hand and a desperate desire to exert more control on the other person. Ozzy enlists an unconventional therapist (Rajit Kapur), who uses exposure therapy to help his patient overcome his OCD.

Pherwani’s film, drawing inspiration from Pranay Burde’s story, is supported by an earnest cast. The sweet and uncomplicated tale gets its soul from Mamaji’s authentic performance as someone who has lived the experience and delighted in life’s little joys. A well-paced, if unsubtle, narrative, Ahaan is an optimistic, feelgood film that genially works towards normalising mental development disabilities and mental health issues.

Ahaan (2021).