Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar started a trend in the 1990s. After the super success of D.D.L.J. and KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI, film-makers in Bollywood suddenly woke up to new-age cinema, the new mantra for success.
Cinema that is up-to-the-minute in its attitude, yet very traditional at heart. The packaging may be contemporary, but the content is pure, unadulterated Indian emotions.
Kunal Kohli seems inspired by the works of Chopra and Johar and his second outing, HUM TUM, borrows heavily from their works. Of course, the basic plot is inspired by WHEN HARRY MET SALLY [1989; Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan] and the film also brings back memories of Woody Allen?s ANNIE HALL , but Kohli has remodeled HUM TUM on the lines of Chopra and Johar movies primarily.
HUM TUM has laughter in abundance, but an undercurrent of emotions continues to move alongside. Now to the crucial question, does HUM TUM work? For those who appreciate romantic comedies for both aspects of the genre [the ?romance? and the ?comedy?], HUM TUM works to an extent!
Karan Kapoor [Saif Ali Khan] works with one of India?s leading newspapers as a cartoonist. ?Hum? and ?Tum? are his cartoon characters.
Karan meets Rhea [Rani Mukerji] in an aircraft, en route to U.S.A. They disagree on practically everything; they are complete opposites. So, to put things right, Karan innocently kisses her, which offends Rhea no end. The budding friendship ends on a disastrous note.
Six months later, the duo meet once again in a park in New York. Rhea hasn?t forgotten the kiss, so she decides to let the cat out of the bag. Karan loses his steady girlfriend [Shenaz Treasurywala] in the process.
Rhea and Karan continue to bump into each other at various phases of life and gradually become friends.
Rhea goes through some personal tragedies in her life, but Karan stands by her. Karan even tries fixing her up with a friend of his, Mihir [Jimmy Shergill] ? with her mother?s [Kiron Kher] permission of course ? but as with everything else, even this doesn?t work out. Instead, Mihir gets engaged to Karan?s friend Diana [Isha Koppikar].
But destiny has other plans for Karan and Rhea...
A film that travels three continents [Asia, Europe, U.S.A.] and 8/10 years, HUM TUM is a love story that relies heavily on romance and light moments. Though the storyline is waferthin, the twists and turns in the film keep the interest alive to an extent.
The first half has light moments aplenty. The interaction between Saif and Rani in Amsterdam is truly enjoyable and takes the graph of the film upwards. Even the twist in the tale, when Rani gets married, makes for interesting viewing. Again, the interval point -- when Saif learns of Rani's predicament -- is amongst the high points of the film.
Writers Kunal Kohli and Siddharth Raj Anand have packaged several humorous incidents in the first half. A majority of light moments are sure to be appreciated, although the tongue-in-cheek humour is the kind that would appeal more to the city audiences than the hardcore masses.
The post-interval portions begin on a promising note, but things begin to deteriorate in this half. The story actually comes to an end when the two foes turned friends develop a deep bond, but aren't able to express their feelings for each other.
The journey of the film from this point to the finale is full of hiccups, courtesy the faulty writing. The heated argument between Saif and Rani [at Jimmy Shergill and Isha Koppikar's engagement ceremony] is on a flimsy reason. Strangely, Rani packs her bags soon after this incident and leaves for an unknown destination. Why? Surely, Saif hadn't done anything drastic to deserve this!
Even the climax is not as moving as one would expect it to be ? it?s clich?stuff. The culmination to the love story is not as convincing as it should've been. Perhaps, the writers ran out of ideas by the time they reached the finale, or may be they must've suddenly realized that the running time of this love story has already crossed 2.15 hours and it's time to head towards the climax zone. Besides, the pace in the second half of the film is extremely slow, which tries the patience of the viewer.
Director Kunal Kohli succeeds on two fronts; he has shot the film exceedingly well and has also extracted fantastic performances from not just Saif and Rani, but also from every character in the film. Knitting animation with the storyline was a novel concept, but it hardly contributes in moving the story ahead. Besides, the locales of Amsterdam, Paris and New York provide a rich visual feast for the cinegoer.
But Kohli isn't completely in form as a writer. The story stagnates in the second half and how one wishes Kohli and co-writer Siddharth Raj Anand would've come to the point fast, instead of beating around the bush and stretching it for another 20 minutes. Besides, the screenplay has two major twists in the first half, but no twists in the post-interval portions. Resultantly, the drama lacks a solid foundation. Even otherwise, there?s nothing much to look forward to in the second half.
Jatin-Lalit's music is amongst the high points of the enterprise. The rule of the game is that a love story ought to be embellished with a melodious score and the narrative in HUM TUM does get a definite push thanks to a lovely score from this talented music director duo. While the title track, 'Ladki Kyon', 'Chak De' and ?Gore Gore? sound easy to the ears, the best part is that they're well placed in the story.
Cinematography [Sunil Patel] is strikingly beautiful. Dialoges [Kunal Kohli] are natural to the core.
Casting is one of the film's strengths. It would be hard to imagine anyone other than Saif as the wisecracking Karan. Saif's style is perfect for this role; he makes Karan insufferable and likable at the same time. And, beneath it all, there beats the heart of a caring man. His arresting performance is sure to sky-rocket his fan-following amongst the youngsters.
Likewise, Rani's effervescent personality infuses Rhea with buoyancy, and, later in the film, she too shows a vulnerable side. Rani takes a giant leap as an actor, making you realize that she is amongst the finest actresses of her generation. Not only has Rani looked gorgeous, even her performance is flawless. Even though Saif and Rani's characters are polar opposites, their interaction has a charm and warmth that most film pairings lack.
Kiron Kher is marvellous. Her Punjabi dialect, coupled with her lines in English, is sure to bring the house down. Another lovable performance this! Rishi Kapoor is a delight. The actor gives his role that rare sheen that only veterans are capable of. Rati Agnihotri is first-rate in a small, but significant role.
HUM TUM has a host of guest appearances. Abhishek Bachchan's entry is sure to be greeted well. And his scene with Saif at the airport confirms yet again that he's carved a niche for himself. Jimmy Shergill is another actor to watch. He is perfect in that one scene with Rani, after she has had a heated argument with Saif. Isha Koppikar is adequate. Shehnaz Treasurywala is alright.
On the whole, HUM TUM is a decent fare, topped with captivating performances and mesmerising music. But a slow and not-too-exciting second half dilutes the impact to an extent. At the box-office, the film should fare exceedingly well at multiplexes [it's an ideal multiplex fare] of Mumbai and Delhi mainly, but its prospects at single screen theatres and also at several key centres will be below the mark. Besides, the flow of biggies from next week onwards will make a dent in its business. Its business prospects in Overseas look bright!