Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele(Disney-Hotstar)
Starring Anshuman Jha, Zareen Khan, Directed by Harish Vyas
He is gay.She is lesbian. And they are on a road trip of self-discovery. This sounds like a sturdy recipe for a super-chic rom-com. Sadly, the early promise of something unusual and arresting fizzles out in what looks a like series of episodes written for a webseries strung together with no care for proper pacing.Many sequences overstay their welcome, some never take off and others just seem to be forced into the narrative for the sake of seeming fashionably avant-garde.
The ending which I don’t want to give away for all those curious to know what two homosexuals of different genders can do behind locked doors, is specially problematic and lachrymose: a touch of misplaced sublimity in a film that has long lost is relevance. It is the opposite of a cherry on the icing.
Icing reminds me of the songs which are played strictly in the background and a lot of it in Punjabi(why Punjabi in a Hindi language film, why not Haryanvi, Himachali or Mathili?) as the unlikely couple head towards McLeod Ganj. Remember reticent Shahid Kapoor driving through half of India to take chirpy Kareena Kapoor to her beloved ‘Anshuman’ only to be rejected by him?
Put Anshuman Jha in Shahid’s shoes, Zareen in place of Kareena and her lesbian partner Nikki(a fetching Jahnvi Rawat) who doesn’t have the guts to spill her sexual preference in front of her Dad(can you blame her, when the Dad is played by the formidable Denzil Smith?) in place of Tarun Arora (Anshuman)…and we have met Jab We Met re-loaded , but alas, not ensured against transportative mishaps.
The sequences showing the couple locked together in hotel rooms have predictable bra jokes and clean-versus-messy gags , and a dinner date where both the lead actors say the same line one after another: “Charo cheez tumhare favourite hain aur maine khud banaya hai.”
There are way too many stopovers in this gay-lesbian love story.Veer(Anshuman Jha) has just broken up with his closeted married lover(Gurfateh Pirzada who looks more morose than gay). When Veer tells his lover’s wife(Prabhleen Kaur braving through lonely-wife dialogues like, ‘Aaj bhi mujhe hi change karna padega’) about her husband’s secret she reacts with unnerving calmness.
Everyone in the film remains unusually tranquil all the time, as though they have been told to rein-in their emotions, to make it look as if they are to project the calm before the storm, which sadly never comes. Till the end this awkwardly sincere film remains a bundle of possibilities that never come to any shred of fruition.
What redeems the shroud of ennui that envelopes the proceedings from stifling the breath out of the plot, is the lead pair’s determined bid to keep the wobbly storytelling afloat. Anshuman Jha, almost always an actor any script can rely on, here tries to bring conviction into the role of a gay man who seeks happiness in a lesbian’s company. It seems like a self consciously queer combination.
The scriptural blueprint– let’s bring two homosexuals of two genders together into a road trip– only takes the drama so far, and no further.