What could go wrong in a film that boasts of stars such as Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan, and has the backing of one of the most innovative producers of the Hindi film industry? Well, a lot, if the film in question is Hamari Adhuri Kahani.
Hotel magnate Aarav Ruparel (Emraan Hashmi) is constantly on flights as he has to manage a conglomerate of more than 100 luxury hotels around the world. An ardent Arum Lily lover, Aarav doesn’t have a permanent address as he keeps hopping from one presidential suite to another in search of more business, but he’s got a nose for workers who are excellent for the hospitality industry. His keen observation gets him interested in Vasudha (Vidya Balan), who seems to have concealed a volcano of emotions beneath her guarded exterior.
The mother of a 5-year-old, Vasudha is struggling to strike a balance between her haunted past and a future that promises sunshine even to the darkest caves. Just when breathing gets a bit easier, the ghost of her past returns. Vasudha’s legally wedded husband Hari (Rajkummar Rao) is in no mood to set her free because he feels that the women must abide by the existing social norms which keep the husbands at a higher pedestal in domestic power equations. But, can you really put a chain on the bird of desire?
In the rivetting opening of the film, a bus with a slogan ‘jiyo aur jeene do’ is transcending the roads of Bastar in Chattisgarh. A middle aged woman steps out and heads towards the forest and the expression on her face clearly indicates the rising agony inside her heart, but before we could begin to feel for her, we’re transported to Mumbai, where a high-octane drama awaits the audience.
Director Mohit Suri likes to play with the idea of unachievable love. Be it Woh Lamhe or Aashiqui 2, he highlights the hesitation that lovers suffer before turning soulmates. Written by Mahesh Bhatt, Hamari Adhuri Kahani provides him the perfect canvas to construct a bridge between love that calls for a celebration and love that seeks approval from the society. This time, he has used Rajkummar Rao’s character to drive home his point, but talkative characters and some really clichéd plot points have ruined his noble wishes. Yes, the film’s biggest weakness is its writing.
Quite often, relationship dramas need a silent space which can give the actors a chance to flaunt their prowess with gestures, but the duo of Mahesh Bhatt and Shagufta Rafiq has opted for spoon-feeding and cheesy lines have become their chief tool in this pursuit. Consider this conversation:
Aarav: Vasudha, yeh hai hamare hotel ka garden jisko main apne ek aur hotel me copy karna chahta hoon. Lekin yahan kisi cheez ki kami hai. Kyat tum mujhe bata sakti ho wo cheez kya hai?
Vasudha: Murjhaye hue patte. Inke bina garden adhura lagta hai.
Yes, we understand that it could be Vasudha’s point of view, but you don’t need to be so in-your-face. So, it only evokes laughter when Aarav replies further: Waah, aapne toh experts ko bhi maat de di.
Similarly, a kind-hearted police officer decides to help Aarav by going out of his way. His reason: Kyonki kaaynaat bhi sachche pyaar karne waalon ko milaane ki koshish karti hai.
There is a conversation in the beginning of the film which goes like this:
Vasudha: Radha marne ke baad kahan jayegi?
Hari: Apne kishan me sama jaayegi.
You wince but as the film progresses you realise that it was one of the milder usage of the ‘80s-ishtyle dialogues. It stops surprising after a point because the film’s overall texture screams of its misogynistic tone. Even the lead character behaves in a strange manner: A fire alarm breaks and everybody runs out of the hotel, but Vasudha comes to save Aarav. Later, Aarav scolds his security staff saying, "Ye ek aurat hoke bhi mujhe bachane aayi lekin tum logo ne kuch nahi kiya." Basically the point is, even the most women-friendly male character in the film has the age-old complex hidden inside him.
It keeps getting funnier. In another scene, a heavily tattooed Suhasini Mulay says, "Thanda hone se pehle apne shareer ko thanda kar le." Trust me; it only dilutes the efforts put by a super-expressive Vidya Balan in making the voice of the disillusioned woman heard.
But, there are some patches of brilliance as well. Emraan Hashmi pours his heart out when he couldn’t confess his love for Vasudha as she doesn’t give him the chance. At that moment, his face is the perfect blend of anxiety, love, compassion and anger. And, he hasn’t uttered a word in this scene. It may remind you of Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead.
It shows on her face when Vidya Balan rebels against the male-dominated social structure. She is excellent in the film which makes her speak way too many lines than required.
Mohit Suri should also be congratulated for putting together a climax which is visually appealing and hits the right spot.
Now, come to the real star of the film: It’s Rajkummar Rao, without any doubt. His mannerism, persona, eyes, everything is just at the right place. From a jilted husband to a revengeful lover, he has displayed a wide range of emotions. Primarily meant for a negative impact, his character is the one to stay with you. His otherwise dark character looks ambiguous and that’s his win over the spectators.
Soulful music is Hamari Adhuri Kahani’s other valuable asset and it helps the audience in sustaining this 129-minute-long preachy film.
Hamari Adhuri Kahani is mostly dependent on its lead actors and they’ve done a satisfactory job. It’s one of those films which reveals its latent potential and then fails to capitalise on it. Hamari Adhuri Kahani is watchable, but it is not likely to ignite a passionate fire in your heart.