By Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Good things come in small packages. HOPE & A LITTLE SUGAR [English] is a fine example of this adage. On face-value, you would be least interested in jumping the queue and grabbing its ticket. But once the reels unfold, you realize that sometimes small-budget films have more to convey than those multi-crore extravaganzas.
HOPE & A LITTLE SUGAR doesn't look at the tragedy [9/11]. Nor does it look for reasons that resulted in the tragedy. It looks at the trauma a family undergoes through and one has to move on in life. One of the prime reasons why it works is because the film has recall value. It affects you even after the show has concluded.
A film for mature audiences, HOPE & A LITTLE SUGAR packs a solid punch in those 90 minutes.
Set in New York in the weeks before and after 9/11, HOPE & A LITTLE SUGAR centers around the romance between a Muslim photographer and a young Sikh woman. Bike messenger Ali [Amit Sial] meets the beautiful but married Saloni [Mahima Chaudhry], a charismatic mithaai shop owner who encourages Ali's photography and becomes his muse. Despite Ali's secret and largely unrequited crush on Saloni, he develops a close friendship with her and her husband Harry [Vikram Chatwal].
When tragedy strikes with the terrorist attacks on September 11, her father-in-law, a retired army Colonel [Anupam Kher], devastated by grief and anger, directs his longstanding animosity towards Muslims at Ali, as the young man's affection for Saloni grows increasingly evident. Although the Colonel's wife [Suhasini Mulay] tries to pacify her husband, the Colonel, unable to accept life's pain, threatens to bring everything to a violent end.
Director Tanuja Chandra narrates an interesting tale and more importantly, it's topical even today, years after 9/11 occurred. Her storytelling technique is simple, yet powerful. A number of sequences, especially post 9/11, have been handled with dexterity. But the culmination could've been more impactful. Why does Kher have a change of heart all of a sudden? A solid reason is lacking. Also, the romance [from Mahima's side] should've been better established. A sequence or two should've been devoted to make things appear believable.
HOPE & A LITTLE SUGAR belongs to Tanuja Chandra; this is her most accomplished work so far. Also, every actor is in top form: Mahima [excellent], Kher [incredible], Suhasini Mulay [exceptional] and new-find Amit Sial [fine talent; confident]. Vikram Chatwal gets minimal scope.
On the whole, HOPE & A LITTLE SUGAR is a well-made, engrossing fare that caters to a niche audience. A film for select multiplexes in India.