It must not be easy to make a drab film when you have stalwarts such as Ratna Pathak Shah and Paresh Rawal in the cast but in Hum Do Hamare Do, director Abhishek Jain finely demonstrates it. The film, conceived as a comedy of errors set around a young man, an orphan who assembles a fake family for himself, is a challenge posed to the audience and the film critic; it drains one of all the will to laugh or write about it.
Consider this pivotal moment in the film, where the protagonist Dhruv (Rajkummar Rao), an entrepreneur, meets Anya (Kriti Sanon), a vlogger, and falls in love with her. There isn’t much to see or listen to. Two well-dressed people seated next to each other at the lobby of a five-star hotel. He assumes she is talking to him, but she is not. She is making a call using Bluetooth earphones. Out of the blue, she turns towards him and asks him to teach her some magic tricks. She has mistaken him for a magician because a man in a tux at a high-end hotel in Chandigarh has to be a magician. A few minutes of similar paltry exchanges later, the scene ends, waving a red flag at the viewers. Hum Do Hamare Do is a parade of banalities.
The most perplexing element in this early scene is the unflinching impoliteness of Anya. She is too impertinent to be real, but in the film’s universe, her sassiness and stupidity are adorable qualities that immediately make her fit to be a romantic-comedy heroine. The film doesn’t make any effort to convince the audience that this character could be, regardless of the poor first impression she makes, worthy of their attention, that she isn’t as shallow as the vlogs she makes for a living. Instead, the film dashes into a more feeble part, where Dhruv arranges a fake family for himself to marry Anya, a traditionalist.
The central idea, in all fairness, isn’t pointless. Hum Do Hamare Do is a giant leap from the Hum Saath Saath Hain era, when a person in Hindi cinema was nothing if he or she didn’t have a wealthy upper-caste Hindu joint family to fall back on. Although the 2021 film places a similar conventional family at the heart of an individual’s existence, it states that a perfect family is not always made of people who share blood ties or a surname. Hirozaku Kore-eda, in his glorious film Shoplifters (2018), had revised the definition of family, expanded it to a humane and liberal institution. Hum Do Hamare Do’s Dhruv wishes for that nourishing space called home and he finds it in Anya, his foster father Purushotham (Paresh Rawal) and the latter’s old flame Deepti (Ratna Pathak Shah).
The issue here is that Jain and his team cannot develop this idea into a watchable drama, where the stakes seem believable and the jokes, amusing. The narrative is a pile of exhaustingly contrived situations. The central conflict, for one, is unreasonable. There isn’t a valid reason for Dhruv to lie to Anya, who fell in love with him for his kindness and naiveté. To begin with, their romance hardly goes beyond the genericness. When they are together, they don’t elicit that spark or emotional intensity one expects to see in two youngsters head over heels in love. Rao rehashes his signature stutter-and-panic act that made him the gallery’s favourite ordinary man. The fabric of his talent looks dangerously thin now.
The saving grace is the other couple in the film, played by Pathak and Rawal. Once almost married and later, for most of their life, pretending to be strangers, their predicament in playing fake parents to Dhruv makes sense. Purushutham’s lack of refinement collides with Deepti’s reticence, making for some hilarious and warm moments.
The romance between an old-generation couple is now Bollywood’s favourite genre – yet another leap from the family dramas of the last millennium when parents were portrayed only as asexual individuals. Here, Rawal and Shah share sparkling chemistry, much more impressive than what the younger couple bring to the film, although one can’t help thinking what a better screenplay could have offered these actors.
Hum Do Hamare Do is one of those films that ends miles before its final scene. Somewhere right after its halfway point, the film runs out of resources and starts to pant; every scene that follows is a ghost of a hundred movies and soap operas that the viewer has seen before. Emotions are played in a loop, passively, as though the makers were fed up with making the film. When the credit starts to roll, the viewer might feel relieved, not just for themselves but also for the actors, for they made an earnest effort to breathe life into a dead movie.
This Hum Do Hamare Do review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.