Remaking a universally acclaimed and an already successful English film into Hindi could prove to be one arduous task.
A rehash of director Alejandro Amen?r's eerie flick THE OTHERS [2001; starring Nicole Kidman], Soni Juneja's HUM KAUN HAI? is intriguing and engaging in parts. A film on supernatural forces like HUM KAUN HAI? does defy the stereotype and for those who haven't watched THE OTHERS, it's indeed a novel experience.
But how one wishes the makers would've stuck to the original in entirety, instead of changing the story towards the pre-climax and climax [Dharmendra-Amitabh sequences]. That takes away the sheen from the enterprise, to an extent!
In an isolated brick mansion set amidst thick woods and mist, Sandra Williams [Dimple Kapadia] lives with her two photosensitive children Sarah [Hansika] and David [Amman]. David is a mama's boy, whereas Sarah is headstrong in character. Sandra's husband, Major Frank John Williams [Amitabh Bachchan], is at war. But there has been no news of him for a while.
Sandra employs three domestic helpers, Mrs. Pinto [the nanny; Moushumi Chatterjee], Edgar [the gardener; Abhijit Lahiri] and Maria [the cook; Seema Rahmani], who are briefed about the quaint rules of the house and told to obey the orders diligently. These include moving around the house silently and making sure that all curtains are drawn at all times.
It is at this point that some strange things happen in the house. Sandra's daughter Sarah starts hearing bizarre things. Sandra doesn't hear it, or at least she claims not to, which slowly but surely leads to the questions: Are these domestic helpers creating the disturbances for some sinister purpose? Is Sarah creating them herself? Or does something really lurk within the walls of the manor house, something long-dead, something evil?
Sandra decides to consult Father D'Souza, but on her way through the woods, she runs into her husband Frank.
Frank appears to be in a daze. The family is thrilled on Frank's return, but Frank seems uncomfortable in the scenario and decides to leave the house. With the help of his friend Viru [Dharmendra], Frank takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of the mystery?
Indian audiences normally associate eerie films with skeletons, skulls, graveyard, blood and gore. In that respect, HUM KAUN HAI? comes as a welcome change. Without doubt, it's an experiment of sorts!
HUM KAUN HAI? relies on mood, atmosphere and the cast to create the spookish mood. The plot is well thought-out and its secrets and mysteries are unveiled gradually. The film has its share of supernatural moments and a few sequences, although a direct lift from the original, make for interesting viewing.
HUM KAUN HAI? moves at an unhurried pace from start to end. Thankfully, there are no songs [one doesn't miss them either] or the mandatory romantic interludes. But the film loses its grip towards the post-interval portions. Although the story gets interesting, it's not involving.
The sequences between Amitabh and Dimple are just not exciting. It gets very talk-heavy at this point. Also, Dharmendra's character in the plot looks completely forced, while the Dharam-Amitabh-Vikram Gokhale scene, when the mystery unfolds, suddenly looks like some new story happening. Even Amitabh's reappearance towards the climax appears unwarranted [deviates completely from the original again!].
Director Ravi Shankar Sharma has handled the eerie sequences deftly. But writers Talat Rekhi and Soham Saha should have stuck to the original ending. That would've uplifted the film enormously. Cinematography [Ishwar Bidri] is inconsistent. The lighting in a few scenes should've been dim/dark, in keeping with the demand of the story.
HUM KAUN HAI? revolves mostly around Dimple Kapadia's beliefs and perceptions and the actress is up to the task of making it look one thousand per cent convincing. Undeniably talented, Dimple's performance can be rightly referred to as the soul of the enterprise. In short, she shines through like a champion.
Amitabh Bachchan enacts his part with conviction. Dharmendra fails to impress, partly because of the forced characterization. Moushumi Chatterjee is first-rate, flashing the evil smile and mysterious look fluently.
Baby Hansika shows both strength and vulnerability with a powerful range, rarely seen in child artistes today. Master Amman looks cute. Prem Chopra, Vikram Gokhale and Suhasini Mulay have a scene each. Abhijit Lahiri and Seema Rahmani are alright.
On the whole, HUM KAUN HAI? is more of an experiment that may find its share of believers and non-believers. At the box-office, the film caters to the multiplex-going audience completely. However, the sudden release and lack of promotional build-up will curtail its prospects largely.