Meet Vasudha, young mom of little boy, making a hard living in the hospitality business; Hari, her husband, burdened with a dark past; and Arav, handsome tycoon, thirsting for romance. You are promised a touching love story; you get zilch.
When the trio of Vidya Balan, Rajkummar Rao and Emraan Hashmi — competent actors all, Rao even better — comes together, you expect something. At the very least, a tug at the heartstrings. Because a ‘prem kahani’ is nothing if it doesn’t touch you deep inside, and make you yearn.
What ‘Hamari Adhuri Kahani’ does is the exact opposite. It purports to be an unusual triangle, and perhaps on paper, it may have come off as one. But this is a shockingly empty film, with the entire cast desperately ‘acting away’, and not one sentiment that feels real.
And that can be put down to the terrible writing. Jerky, stagey sequences are piled upon each other. Characters are arrayed against static backdrops, and made to spout the kind of dialogue which remind you of creaky yesteryear movies best forgotten.
This is the kind of part–a woman ricocheting between a brutish husband, a noble lover, and a son –that Vidya Balan could have aced. She tries hard, her eyes swimming frequently, but drowns in such lines as these: ‘main kisi aur ki miliqiyat hoon.’ ‘Miliqiyat’? Seriously? In 2015?
Rajkummar Rao could have made something of his unfortunate trying to grapple with a situation not of his making, but he is given the worst strand, which takes him to Maoist-insurgency laden jungles, and incarcerates him in cells. Maoist? Don’t ask. No wonder the poor man is left mumbling and stumbling, breaking off occasionally to threaten Vidya Balan with this priceless line: ‘pati hoon main tera’. Just in case she’s forgotten this crucial fact.
And Emraan Hashmi, whom I find underrated because he can do more, is saddled with sharp suits and first class flights and faithful assistants, and not much more. But he also gets many dialogues which he blurts out dutifully, for our delectation. He tears out of his about-to-leave flight, skidding to a halt in a flower shop, saying: ‘yeh phool mujshe kuch keh rahe hain’, or words to that effect. We are as bewildered as his friend-and-Man-Friday, who has the most revealing line of the film – I don’t get you, man, he says. We don’t either.
Given his early track-record of creating engaging drama, Mohit Suri should have made a full meal of the film, but his material defeats him: it is not only half done, it’s also not well begun. If this was ‘adhuri’, I shudder to think what would have happened if it was ‘poori’.