Director: Abhishek Dixit
Cast: Anshuman Malhotra, Prit Kamani, Tusshar Pandey
I have never agreed more with a mid-movie rustication. To think of these four — medical students Abeer, Namit, Surjo and Manjari — as future professional doctors, is scary. Where do they study? Where the world studies — Sharda University, given in this film the imposing name of NIMH and a rushed med school treatment, which basically means dragging sleepy hostelers out of bed and making them parade in oversized aprons, and several shots of dummy skeletons hanging from walls.
Nobody is studying. Which is great as far as internet-age college romances go, but here’s the thing — nobody romances either. Presented by Rajshri Productions and directed by Abhishek Dixit, Hum Chaar is a movie about the vain stupidities of young love, and how delusory simple gestures can be. Here, alarmingly, three boys fall in love with a girl because:
1) she offloads a heart-shaped balloon on Abeer,
2) tells Namit ‘I love you’ while reading her lines for a play, and, my favourite,
3) leads on Surjo — a simpleton who spells ‘Shakespeare’ as ‘Sexpeare’ — by mincing ‘biochemistry’ with ‘chemistry’. Cute.
The story is devotionally daft. After getting thrown out of college following an unfortunate social media scandal, our clique of close friends go their separate ways, swearing to stay out of touch and picking up cold, colourless careers. Some get married, some don’t. One day, the boys receive a message: Manjari needs help. Should they go? Is ego such a thing, after all these years? What is supreme — emotions or emoticons?
The kids are alright. Anshuman Malhotra, who made an impression as young Shahid Kapoor in Haider, moves with an easy assurance in this one, never snatching screen-time and having fun off the flanks. As Kanpur-born Abeer Khan, Anshuman doesn’t overdo the accent — a tough tussle in a film that would happily have him otherwise.
Debutant Prit Kamani looks like he grew up idolising the likes of Siddharth Malhotra or Imran Khan — with a typically urban fashion sense and a TV commercial smile — but shows fleeting maturity as an actor. In one sequence, he brings sudden emotional investment into a late monologue, when the film has already spiralled out of hand.
Tusshar Pandey (Pink, Phantom, Rang De Basanti) is the comical centre of this film; his character, Surjo, gets the stupidest lines, and later, a horny, unattended wife. She is invariably throwing herself at him, but Surjo is boringly disinterested. Instead, he hands her a tube of pain-relief and gets back to facebooking. Very Un-Sexpeare, must I say.
Female lead Simran Sharma delivers the most realistic performance in the film, but inadvertently so. She acts like only a medical student would (in films): mugging up her lines and slobbering them out in a flat, clinical way.
In a scene where she is supposed to act drunk, she looks more anaesthetised than inebriated — droning on about loving each of the boys equally, and pretty much meaning it. This film could have become a great endorsement for polyamorous relationships, were it not so bogged down by legacy and the need to justify the tagline ‘Friends Bhi Family Hain.’
Debutant Abhishek Dixit shows flashes of filmmaking flare: He knows how to light the insides of a rickety public bus, for instance, but has chosen a film that requires him to immediately cut to a dream sequence, where the same insides are washed over in white.
The second-half of this film becomes a twisted October, one where it’s not the girl on the coma bed but someone else, someone the lovers — technically, by Hindi film logic — ought to hate. I was impressed by the film’s small subversions of male pride (constant fun is made of masculine traits, like the slight fuzz on Abeer’s grown-up cheeks).
But this was still too cloy and conditioned a film to move me in any way. The fog lifts too soon. Characters wear shawls and sweaters, but you never feel the chill. This film’s a September — at best.