Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hum Tum aur Ghost (aur Filmi Girl!)

For reasons unknown to me Hum Tum aur Ghost was not only given lukewarm treatment by critics but was also pretty much ignored by audiences. It’s too bad because Hum Tum aur Ghost is actually a good film, combining some of the best parts of Bollywood storytelling with the linear drive of Western film and shot in an artsy style. Clearly, a lot of effort went into every inch of the project and it’s a shame more people haven’t (yet) had the chance to see it.

Don’t worry, folks, I won’t give away too much—minor spoilers only.

The main theme of
Hum Tum aur Ghost is spelled out in the title – you, me, and a ghost. Armaan (Arshad Warsi) is a fashion photographer for Cosmopolitan (Newcastle edition) magazine. He’s in a fairly long-term relationship with the editor of Cosmo: Newcastle, a lovely young lady named Gehna (Dia Mirza). Armaan floats through the world like a bit of a ghost himself. Oh, sure, he has his lady friend and his best friend Mini (Sandhya Mridul) but mostly he seems to drift along in a vaguely buzzed stupor—trying not to let too much in. ‘Too much’ including the voices he keeps hearing whenever he’s alone.

All of this changes when a particularly forward ghost named Kapoor (Boman Irani) bursts Armaan’s careful bubble and offers him some peace in exchange for Armaan’s help and Armaan is forced to engage with the voices that have been troubling him.

Savvy movie watchers can probably recognize elements of numerous Hollywood ghost movies from
Ghost Town to Heart and Souls to Defending Your Life and certainly Hum Tum aur Ghost was influenced by them but it had a really fresh feeling to it that some of the recent Hollywood-influenced films like Karthik Calling Karthik and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na are missing. And while trying to put my finger on what I really liked about Hum Tum aur Ghost, I thought about what I didn’t like about Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na - the relationships.

Using the silly setup of ‘seeing ghosts’ as a boondoggle,
Hum Tum aur Ghost skillfully depicts some very nuanced and mature relationships – the kind that one doesn’t see often in Holly or Bollywood. And maybe it was that subtly that failed to connect with critics, who prefer to have The Theme beaten over their heads with a 2 x 4. Take the relationship between Gehna and Armaan – unlike 99% of Bollywood films, they begin the film in a relationship and the journey for them is not the stereotypical meet-cute and fall in instantaneous love, instead it’s a deepening of affection from that surface gloss to an actual connection. Gehna and Armaan begin the film liking each other and end it loving each other. And, even better for the audience, they take us with them and make that committed relationship, in which the fireworks are over, seem desirable. (Yes, even for committed bachelorette me.)

(No 40 year old virgins, here, folks! Armaan is all man...)

While the Gehna-Armaan story is at the heart of the film, my favorite bits were between Armaan and his best friend Mini. One of the things that most bugged me about
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na was that the Hero’s friends were treated little better than props. (Kind of like how fashion magazines treat people like props.) Mini and Armaan are friends - there is no residual sexual tension, no jealousy, or anything like that. Friends just being friends isn’t seen often enough in movies for my liking. What is even more amazing about Mini as a character is that… (spoiler but not really) she’s a lesbian. And no big deal is made of it. That’s just who she is! She’s not a comedy gay (Dostana) or a lecherous gay (Page 3) or a tragic self-sacrificing gay (Fashion) – she’s just a regular person who likes to go out girl watching with her BFF Armaan. And she’s awesome.

(We'll do our shots and then scope out chicks on the dance floor! Woo!)

And check out this little move during the song...

Yup, perfectly normal -
she likes blondes!

And we can't forget the Kapoor-Armaan relationship, which is really the Boman Irani-Arshad Warsi comedy hour.

Basically, even though
Hum Tum aur Ghost is an Arshad Warsi vehicle and Arshad appears in almost every scene, the film never feels overburdened or stuffed with Arshad the way those towering giants like Salman Khan can clog up a frame. (And make no mistake, Salman Khan choked the life out of Yuvvraaj - speaking of which, I’d love to see Katrina opposite Arshad.) Hum Tum aur Ghost is a small, cozy, personal film that still manages to capture the masala storytelling feel – rotating between comedy, romance, heart-felt emotion, spirituality, songs, and a bit of violence. Arshad is a very giving actor and while he certainly makes his presence felt, he lets his supporting cast shine, as well, giving an ensemble feel to the film.

So, let’s talk about Arshad Warsi, since this is his film. The man can do just about anything – as seen in my round up of his film roles – and here he shows how to successfully meld ‘realistic’ acting with Bollywood acting. Farhan, Saif, et. al. should pay close attention because
this is how you do it – just loud enough to make the occasional sound effect seem appropriate but not so quiet that the wallpaper has more personality than you. A happy medium (pun intended).

As for the other actors, Boman Irani was magnificent – as always – and Dia Mirza was luminous. While she’s not going to give Meena Kumari a run for her money anytime soon, Dia really exceeded my expectations. She has wonderfully expressive eyes and since ‘dead-eye’ syndrome is worst thing a starlet can have (*cough* Deepikalarapriyanka) I was really pleased to see that those big brown eyes had some life in them. I’m not forgiving her for that Ayn Rand remark anytime soon but she is going on my list of actresses that I wouldn’t mind seeing more from in the future (and believe you me, it’s not a big list – Hi, Jiah!). I already touched on Mini aka Sandhya Mridul but I’ll say again that she was very winning.

In conclusion, what are you waiting for?!
Hum Tum aur Ghost is the first really successful mix of Hollywood and Bollywood aesthetics that I’ve seen. For once, the montages seemed to flow effortlessly from the story instead of being shoehorned in to make sure the soundtrack would sell and if you can suspend your disbelief to include a few ghosts, you won’t be disappointed.

There is so much more I want to talk about but since I’m venturing up into 1000+ word territory, I’ll cut it off here.

(Go see it!)


Maya Magdalena said...

Lovely read! I agree, go see it. Thanks a million for arranging the watch-along ♥

cmleigh said...

Nice review. I know I said I would not read it until after I saw it but I could not stop myself. :-D Please let me know if and when you will do another watch-along. I will do my best to be there.

Filmi Girl said...

Thanks ladies!! And I should admit that I watched this again to cheer myself up on Saturday... hee hee!

@cmleigh Would some Friday night in June work for you? I'll try to organize another one since this movie was too much fun!

Soumik said...

Thank you. As screnplay and diaogue writer, all i can say is that the film was much better written..and really horibly directed. Wish Warsi did it himself.

Shell said...

It was so much fun to watch with you girls, however, I totally need to watch again to see all the stuff I missed while typing and reading!

I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this, though the expectations were very high. I was glad it delivered in pretty much every way. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Arshad can come up with when he's behind the camera as well.

bollywooddeewana said...

Good review, i like some of the things you've pointed out like their relationship growing on us but for me this film was nothing but a Tv movie, it just didn't have that IT factor that would make people go to the cinemas, they might as well wait for it to come on Tv.

As for the suspense element they tried adding i guessed it right from the beginning.

Arshad's acting in this, I found rather hammy (fun to watch none the less) Overall I found Hum Tum aur Ghost disappointing,I just wish the film had a more darker feel to it than the half baked comedy/suspense drama premise it went for, plus after hearing him go on so much about how he's not taken seriously as an actor (in a filmfare mag interview, i can send you scans if you want via e mail) and then going on do this, i'm not sure his complaint is valid.

Filmi Girl said...

@soumik I honestly did enjoy the story very much. :) I loved the repetition of "I see dead people." Very nice - Arshad gave it a different twist every time.

@shell I actually watched it again before writing this... :)

@bollywooddeewana I think maybe we wanted different things out of the film - or just have different tastes. To me, the small scope felt very cozy and I loved Arshad's acting, it didn't feel 'hammy' at all.

And please e-mail the interview!! I'm curious...

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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