Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hum Tum, or, When Karan Met Rhea

Okay, so that title is a bit of acknowledgement that this 2004 movie supposedly owes a debt to the 1989 Hollywood film When Harry Met Sally. I've only seen the latter in bits and pieces, the most notable of which includes Meg Ryan's famous fake orgasm, and since an equivalent is definitely missing from Hum Tum (Me, You) I'd say it has to be quite loosely based, if at all, on When Harry Met Sally. It stars Rani Mukherji, Saif Ali Khan, and Kirron Kher, with special appearances by Rishi Kapoor (yay!), Abhishek Bachchan (Abhiiiiiiii! My inner fangirl just screamed that she forgives him for Drona), Jimmy Shergill (no idea who he is, but will look up more of his stuff soon), Rati Agnihotri (same goes), Shenaz Treasurywala (what a name!) and Ishaa Koppikar in special and/or guest appearances.

Karan (Saif) is a cartoonist about to go to America to attend university. At the airport, he passes Rhea (Rani) being reluctantly released to do the same by her doting mother "Bobby" (Kirron-ji). Before he departs, he manages to take a few cheap shots at women (in front of his mom--Rati's character--no less) and prove his general forgetfulness. Good thing he has a friend like Mihir (Jimmy) to remember all the things he forgets.

On the airplane, guess what? He and Rhea are assigned to seats right next to each other. (I know you didn't see that coming.) After she demonstrates 1) her anal-retentive nature (I mean, really, who actually cleans off their plasticware before eating those awful airplane meals?) and 2) her complete lack of interest in him, Karan, unable to believe the evidence of his eyes, tries to strike up an acquaintance anyway. They end up spending a few hours together in Amsterdam, which leads to the best song in the film ("Ladki Kyun"), some mutual griping about the stereotypical pitfalls of the respective sexes, and then Karan completely offending Rhea in an almost irredeemable fashion.

They brush up against each other a few months later, with some well-deserved consequences for Karan, and then don't see each other again till years later, back in India. Rhea is getting married, and Karan's mother is her wedding planner. He doesn't make a very good impression on her, again, and she fails to make a very good impression on me, again. They have a dumb song ("Gore Gore Se") at her mehndi ceremony in which she elaborates on the idiocies of guys who are all looks and no commitment. Rani really overacts during this entire sequence, and I hated the song, so that didn't help my opinion. At this point, I started wondering why so many people love this movie.

But then... the second half happened. And I decided I love this movie. I don't want to give away more of the plot, although it's easily available elsewhere should you care to look it up. Suffice it to say that, as Karan grows up, the movie does too. And it's really worth the wait on both counts.

I think the characterization and the character arcs in Hum Tum are its main strengths. The friendship between Mihir and Karan really rang true to me, for instance--I know lots of people whose best friends are exactly like the romantic object of their affections. The strained marriage between Karan's parents--and how it inevitably affects Karan's relationships--also was very well done, despite a cop-out of a resolution.

Saif's portrayal of Karan is another strong positive. He could've been a total jerk, but Saif is good at making him sympathetic despite his flaws. Karan really is a good guy; he just needs some maturity to bring his strengths to the surface. Despite Rhea's repeated dismissal of him, he's always genuinely glad to see her, and that made me believe in the evolution of their relationship.

Rani really acts quite broadly in the first half, but her restrained, muted performance in the second half as a woman who's experienced the tougher side of life and been crushed by it redeemed my perception of Rhea.
The soundtrack, unfortunately, is weak. Like I said, the first song is the best, and it goes steadily downhill from there, except for "Hum Tum," which has an overly mellow adult-contemporary vibe but is sweet nonetheless.

Overall, though, Hum Tum offers some good messages about treating women with respect and being sure to communicate clearly with the object of your affections. Not to mention some supah-fine Saif moments like the one above. I'd say it's worth every penny, and then some.

13 comments:

  1. Guess you didnt fall in love with the movie and Saif!

    I loved the first half just as much as the second. Saif's character in the first half reminded me of so many of my guy friends who sadly never turned into anything close to Karan in the second half! And the best part is that Rani's character gives him everything he deserves - real life alas, never goes that way.

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  2. Hum Tum is definitely a slow paced movie. However, I enjoyed it like you too.

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  3. I love this film. Can watch it over and over and over again.

    Jimmy Shergill had parts in both Munnabhai films, BTW, and I think he's one of the most underrated actors in B'wood...

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  4. I so agree w/ love for Jimmy Shergill- if you really wanna see him at his best though, see "Maachis"- his 1st movie.

    I somehow wanted Rishi and Kirron to get together in this movie - I think they'd b fun together- but [sigh]

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  5. I really kinda liked this movie, but i hate to say it,coz it was so slow in the second half, though the charisma and bubblyness of Rani and Saif made me pyar it! And the bobby references were so silly and cute! Ajnabi can i call u dimple! haw haw haw!

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  6. Bollyviewer: I'm already in love with Saif, can't be done twice. ;-) I would classify this, if I were to use the Filmi Geek rating system, as a member of the "good Hindi films (but not favorites)" category. Re: your point about Rhea giving as good as she got, I thought she overdid it. He was never physically agressive with her, only an ignorant jerk. Yet she bumps, thumps, shoves, and strangles him, then rips off his clothes! I wanted to yell, "Use your words, woman!" I mean, "You're sick!" isn't exactly a cogent point in favor of respectful treatment of one's fellow human beings. I think she had some growing up to do herself. And she did it in the second half, which is why I liked it so much!

    Nicki--thanks again for sending it to me! I was really glad to finally be able to watch it--It's been in my "saved" queue for ages now.

    Memsaab--how could I not have recognized him from Munnabhai? I need to go watch again--yay!

    Shweta: thanks for the rec. I'll definitely see if I can find "Maachis." I kinda wanted Rishi and Kirron to get together too--they both were so sparkly and fun. But then we couldn't have had the rushed contrived reunion scene. LOL

    Rum: I love how in the subtitles they say, "I think I'll call you Dimple the actress who played Bobby!" They should've added, "You gori idiot how can you not know that!" The second half has the best moments, I thought, especially that one where they're pretending to arrange their own marriage. Sooo sweet and lots of cool tension!

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  7. She was manic! lol In her defence though, the guy did kiss her against her wishes and violated her privacy by going through her things. For which he got a slap and lost his girl friend. The clothes-ripping and other things I believe happen in the mehndi song which I always fast-forward - so my view of Rhea stays good!

    Shweta, Kunal Kohli must have thought that too which is why Kiron and Rishi get together in Fanaa!

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  8. Oh, she was shoving and thumping him through the end of "Ladki Kyun" before he kissed her. But you're right, he *did* go through her bag, I'd forgotten, which for me would've meant a "good-bye, see you never" scenario. LOL Still, it's just a minor quibble with a fun fluffy movie. I've already watched it twice!

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  9. I think Hum Tum is a movie that improves on repeated viewings. At least it did for me. I walked away mildly liking it the first time, but with each rewatch I've loved it more and more. I named Rhea one of my fave Hindi film heroines, so I guess I ought to defend her; to me she represents the "realistic" reaction to the sort of idiotic harassment BW heroes sometimes subject their heroines to. Usually the heroine falls in love despite this stuff (or sometimes irrationally because of it!) but Rhea most definitely doesn't. Karan has to truly grow up to deserve her, and he truly earns her love later in the movie.

    I love "Gore gore", it's a silly song and I think Rani looks great in it, so it works for me. "Chak de" is something I skip on each view, except for the part at the end of it when she starts to smile, that's pretty sweet. The title song is just fabulous, I love every moment of it. As music it's merely okay, but as picturizations, I quite enjoy the songs.

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  10. I'm afraid I watched this movie just once and thought it was mildly nice..I did not like it to the extent you did..now though after reading your review I am tempted to have another look at this movie:)

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  11. veracious--I think you might be right, and I also think that maybe this is a case where I haven't seen enough of the Hindi film norm to appreciate the film's departure from it. :-) I agree that when Rhea starts to smile in "Chak de" is super-sweet: Rani really plays it perfectly.

    Reviewer: if veracious' theory is correct, I'd say your second look might be a better one. :-)

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  12. which is the song played in mihir's birthday scene..when he dances with isha kopikar?

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  13. dhwani: Due to the lovely Ani, I have your answer: "Naughty Girl," by Beyonce.

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