Koshish (meaning something like "The Attempt", "The Effort", "The Struggle"), is the story of a deaf and mute woman Aarti (Jaya Bhaduri, later Jaya Bachchan, wife of Amitabh Bachchan and mother of Abhishek Bachchan) who meets for a deaf and mute man Hari (Sanjeev Kumar).
Both working class people with few resources, they go to a school for disabled people together, walk along the beach, befriend a blind man, fall in love, place prank calls, get married, have a nondisabled child, lose the child under horrifically sad circumstances, have another nondisabled child, become more middle class with the help of Hari's kindly and broad-minded boss, and live to a ripe old age together, communicating all the while without spoken words. (They use sign language, and it helps that both the leads have highly expressive eyes and body language).
There are several decent songs (not performed by the romantic leads, obviously), but the real draw is the sweet and understated romance between the two leads, and the director's skill in making the story accessible even to people who don't know sign language well enough to follow the signed conversations.
This work provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: In-universe, Aarti and Hari start off their wedding night somewhat worried about the possibility of their children being disabled as well, but after comparing notes and determing that one of them was born deaf and the other was born mute, and they both acquired their other disabilities from illnesses or injuries, they decide the risk isn't too bad. They later have a brief scare when their first child fails to react to a defective noisemaker toy, but the family doctor clears things up for them.
- The audience gets a terrifying version of this when Aarti's slimy brother breaks into her and Hari's house while they're asleep. He's looking for their (pitifully small) life savings, and in the process of messing with their furniture and belongings ends up putting their infant child on the floor. The brother then panics and bolts, leaving the door unlatched and allowing the child to crawl out into a monsoon and drown, without the deaf parents realizing anything is wrong.
- And the Adventure Continues: The very last scene shows the main characters' son and his new (mute) wife on their wedding night, with the son addressing her in sign language and assuring her that he would do his best (again, Koshish=Attempt) to make this work.
- Blind Musician: Aarti and Hari's blind friend is this, singing a lullaby to their child. This leads to a very funny moment where Aarti gesticulates to Hari, asking what the friend's talking about, and Hari's nonverbal response is something like: "Shrug. It's this 'music' stuff, I don't know what the deal is."
- Distant Finale: After a scene showing Aarti and Hari growing old gracefully together, the story picks up with their son being shown as an adult, and some references to Aarti having passed away. This leads into the possibility of an Arranged Marriage between the son and his father's boss's daughter.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: played with to some extent. The non-disabled teachers at the school are forever saying how lucky their pupils are to be excluded from all the backbiting and nastiness people can do with words, but the film doesn't endorse this position very heavily, and is more interested in presenting the lives of two very nice and basically decent people who happen to be disabled.
- Laser-Guided Karma: most viewers are grimly pleased when Aarti's slimy brother (see above) gets hit by a car and loses the use of one leg, becoming disabled like the sister he's taunted and mistreated so badly.
- Shrine to the Fallen: one of the first references the audience gets to Aarti's off-screen death is a large, garlanded picture of her in a prominent place in the family apartment-a characteristic Indian way of honoring the dead.
- Slice of Life: most of the story, with a few melodramatic moments such as the fight between father and son.