Tum Bin 2
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Tum Bin 2: Let down by acting, uplifted by Rekha Bhardwaj's voice

By Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times

When Tum Bin released in 2001, it was a surprise hit with four debutante actors -- Sandali Sinha, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Himanshu Malik and Raqesh Vashisht, who was then known as Rakesh Bapat.

They did not attract much of an opening collection, but the melancholic love saga found its way into the hearts of the audience. They soon flocked to theatres, making it a hit. (It earned around Rs 99 crore in an era when Rs 100 crore was not a club yet.)

A decade-and-half later, Anubhav Sinha -- he made his debut with Tum Bin -- is back with Tum Bin 2 . Once again, there are new faces and another sobbing, tear-jerking love story. Does he bring back the same magic again? The magic is not lost with time, but it certainly has faded several shades.

There are way too many twists in the narrative to even talk about the storyline, which is perhaps the reason why the makers haven’t said much on it. So, instead of indulging in the ‘spoilers’, we take a look at certain aspects of the narrative and see how or whether they work for the film.

The perfect romantic movie will invest some time building the romance between the lead couple and give the audience a peek into their lives and chemistry. Anubhav, however, prefers to tread the typically-cliched Bollywood romance, with the couple breaking into a song on a snow-clad mountain where the heroine dances in a flowing red gown. The hero (Amar played by Aashim Gulati) does that Shah Rukh Khan arm-spread and one signature move from Tumhare Siva (a song from Tum Bin).

It is only when the tragedy occurs that you start getting involved with the characters and feel their pain.

Through the twists and turns in the story, the best parts are where the characters are silent and a soulful Rekha Bhardwaj’s voice takes you to the emotions on display. There is additional treat of Jagjit Singh’s voice that joins Rekha in the song Teri Fariyad, making the experience surreal. Because when the characters speak, they say things like ‘Life summer vacation ki tarah hai, you never know kab chuttiyan khatam ho jayein’ and ‘wo meri aatma ka hissa tha’. Thankfully, the silent and musical sequences are in plenty and they churn your heart with the pathos of the characters.

The filmmaker subverts patriarchy in a sequence where a woman’s family visit the man’s house for her marriage (unlike the prevalent ‘ladki dekhne ka riwaaz’). The guy “dresses up to impress” the family, serves good food and even sings a song. Anubhav must be lauded for bringing that novelty into a typical Bollywood romance saga.

One of the things that does not work in the film written and directed by Anubhav is the lead female character. While Pia (Sandali) was a rather strong character in the first film and preferred carrying herself on her own despite her early loss (of her fiancee), Taran (Neha Sharma) -- our lead character in Tum Bin 2 -- is a fragile, emotional wreck who needs a shoulder to cry upon and a guy to drive her around on business.

Shot in the beautiful locales of Glasgow and Scotland, the film has opportunity to explore the scenic beauty of snow-clad terrains. Cinematographer Ewan Mulligan does a good job of capturing it in its complete glory. There is however, some school-level graphics used in certain scenes that make it look like a video game.

The lead actors are not convincing -- neither in dialogue delivery nor in emoting. Kanwaljeet Singh (who plays a sweet and loving dad) and Meher Vij are the only ones who really get their characters right and warm up your heart with their performances.