HAMARI ADHURI KAHANI (U)
Director: Mohit Suri
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan, Rajkummar Rao, Amala Akkineni
Running time: 132 minutes
Mohit Suri’s new film Hamari Adhuri Kahani is drowned so deep in sorrow from the first frame to the last that the love story never gets a chance to breathe. The faux sense of intensity completely chokes the romance before it can fully blossom and create the paths and the pathos of the impending tragedy.
The film starts in a very Bridges of Madison County format where the dead mother’s story is read out by her son from a notebook. That dead mother is Vasudha (Vidya Balan) whose husband Hari (Rajkummar Rao) leaves her with a son within a year of their marriage. She waits for him for five years before Mr Ruparel (Emraan Hashmi) happens to her.
It might interest you that Mr Ruparel is a hotel tycoon, Vasudha is a florist and Hari is an alleged terrorist. But what they do is just for the setting and the sideshow and has nothing to do with the core story which has been told a zillion times before. The story of the husband coming back into the picture when the wife is in love with another man.
Since it’s a Mahesh Bhatt script, the leads have their back stories, rather their devastating back stories. Mr Ruparel’s past is that of his cabaret singer mother (Amala Akkikeni) who used to steal alcohol miniatures from the hotel for the piano player who was fond of her. Vasudha’s tragic past is much more recent, when Hari got his name inked on her arm demanding seven lives of togetherness. Yes, the “mera baap chor hai” backstory split into two.
And there’s unending gyan on love, light, darkness, storms, flowers, death, life, and every subject that comes up in every conversation. The characters hardly ever reply to each other — they give their own dose of gyan on the topic. Plus the Bhatt special: milking mythology. How Indian women have been Sita for far too long in their dedication to their husbands and now it’s time to become Radha.
This air of self-seriousness makes Hamari Adhuri Kahani a preachy, boring discourse on love and not the epic romance it wants to be. There’s way too much seeking and too little finding, way too much telling and too little showing. And no one is having a good time, certainly not the audience.
Also, the film is very poorly directed — the acting, the dialogues, the treatment... they do not seem to belong to the same movie. Mohit seems completely out of his depth to handle the maturity of the matter. Snow rains and orchid gardens may punctuate young love stories like the ones in Aashiqui 2 and Ek Villain but here they look fake and forced.
The leads are all right. Emraan’s quite charming actually as the hotelier discovering love in the most unexpected of places. His usual nonchalant body language and dialogue delivery are carefully replaced by a measured speech and bearing. He is also very effective in the two scenes where he breaks down.
Vidya is worst hit by the film’s dripping depression. Her character is perpetually in a world of pain, making it very difficult to warm up to either Vasudha or Vidya. The eyes still express like no other pair does in B-town but the monotony really hinders the Balan effect.
The scene-stealer, one more time, is Rajkummar Rao. He has one scene at the start but that’s so impactful that you feel him lurking in the shadows almost throughout the film till he actually appears in the most dramatic scene of HAK. That the man with such a small frame can create such a physically intimidating character can only be seen to be believed.
The supporting cast, despite being selected by the man-who-can-pick-no-wrong Mukesh Chhabra, is abysmal. Whether it’s the friend or the cop or the foreigner or the roommate, all they manage to do is dilute many an intense moment. Even Amala looks and sounds very out of place. The soundtrack too is not up to the Mohit Suri mark. Barring the title track, the other songs only manage to extend the endurance test.
Call it superstition or just being cheeky, they have even put a Durga Puja-in-Calcutta sequence at the end of the film. A film which has Vidya Balan in the lead and Kahani in the title. And yet the experience remains so tragically unfulfilled. Maybe they took the adhuri bit a tad too seriously.
Pratim D. Gupta
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