Hope Aur Hum Review: Bland and unimpressive
A story that goes nowhere lets down the decent portrayal of a middle-class family’s daily triumphs and tragedies in this film about hope and destiny
Hope Aur Hum is the sort of film that tries hard with its sincere portrait of urban, middle-class family life, but in its quest to vivify the real it loses its way thanks to a storyline that goes nowhere. The film is presented from an omniscient perspective that delves into the daily rubs, grievances, and triumphs of the Srivastava family. The acting, beginning from the veteran Naseeruddin Shah all the way to youngest cast member, Kabir Sajid, is realistic and sometimes even endearing. That being said, there isn’t anything so spectacular about it to write home about. This sticky predicament can be attributed to the overall plot that can only be qualified as bland. Nothing of note really takes place in its 95 minutes, and while we get how engrossing many character-driven films can be, this fails to live up to that standard. Even the film’s underlying message of hope and destiny is far too simplistic to be taken in by.
Director: Sudip Bandyopadhyay
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Sonali Kulkarni, Aamir Bashir, Naveen Kasturia
Hope Aur Hum brings to screen three parallel stories of the Srivastava family. The first involves Daadu (or Nagesh Srivastava), who lives out his final years through his once-famous photocopying machine. His attachment to the old piece of equipment is so high that it is christened with the title of ‘Mr Sonecken’. His nostalgia with the German-made photocopier mirrors that of his own life, perhaps, but the makers of the film refrain from going into any of that. Mr Sonecken still functions, but much like his master, has slowed down over time, producing poor copies of documents courtesy a faulty lens. Efforts to procure a new one aren’t easy as the latest technology rules the roost. Despite constant complaints and calls to replace the old machine, Nagesh Srivastava struggles to let go of Mr Sonecken, ‘the artist’. His grandson, Anurag (Anu, to the family), is a cricket-obsessed boy who makes it a point to provide running commentary whenever he gets the chance. On a visit to his Naani’s haveli, he encounters a young girl hiding in a trunk, playing hide-and-seek, and is told to leave before she gets caught by her friends. The unexpected meeting unnerves the boy, and he begins acting strangely on his return home.
The third storyline of Hope Aur Hum involves Chachu (or Nitin Srivastava), Nagesh’s younger son, who is back from Dubai on a surprise trip. He brings with him goodies for the family, including a sleek Japanese photocopying machine for his father. Nitin soon realises that his phone is missing, and begins calling the device to locate its whereabouts. When the person at the other end of the line picks up, after several days, they begin a regular correspondence. In the meantime, Nitin reconnects with his next-door neighbour, and possible former crush, who is now engaged.
Hope Aur Hum is by no means a bad film, but the words middling and average come to mind while searching for adjectives to describe it. Even the story arc about Anu and his fear of accidentally locking the girl in the crate follows a curious trajectory of suspense that comes to no avail. Conversations about destiny abound in the story, but the message of hope, timing, and fate, is too basic and too simplistic for a film, that for all intents and purposes, is targeted at adults. Hope Aur Hum relies on the presentation of its feel-good factor (towards the end) for its success. Unfortunately for Sudip Bandyopadhyay’s project, the result misses the mark by quite a distance. Even the great Naseeruddin Shah’s portrayal of an old man in the midst of living out his better years through a vintage photocopying machine is not enough to salvage the ordinariness of the plot. One can always argue that travelling back in time to Nagesh Srivastava’s youth while exploring Mr Sonecken’s glory days may have had enough in it to liven up the narrative just that extra bit. But if ‘ifs and buts’ were to work out, we would not be saddled with the reality of most outcomes. The cast members of Hope Aur Hum are sincere and realistic as can be, but end up in a film of average proportions due to a limiting script.