Director: Atul Agnihotri
Cast: Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Aarbaz Khan, Katrina Kaif, Amrit Arora, Shaarmana Joshi, Gul Panag, Eesha Koppikaar, Sharat Saxena, Dilip Tahil and Suresh Mennon
There are books and there are films. Often it has been seen that either of these are created and told through the other. Hello is adapted from Chetan Bhagat’s ‘One Night @ A Call Centre’. Now, while the book makes for a light read, the film is far from being a pleasant watch. The written word takes the form of a futile film.
Just as the book, the film is about call centre agents and the events that transpire one night. Just when they thought everything was over, they end up receiving a phone call from God. These call centre executives have so much going on in their lives that things just don’t seem to get any easier.
Esha (Eesha Kpooikar) aspires to be a model, works non stop and at some point compromises. Loving her is what comes naturally to Varun (Sohail Khan), who personally is equally troubled watching his parents quarrel endlessly. On the other front of the lovers lie Priyanka (Gul Panag) and Shyam (Sharman Joshi) who having separated still breathe the same office air and deep down harbor strong feelings for the other. Unlike any other Radhika (Amrita Arora), the married one is tired of playing the ‘wonder woman’, working both at office and at home. Longing to see her husband (Arbaaz Khan), she silently sighs day after day. Longing is something even Military Uncle understands (Sharat Saxena), who thirsts to lay eyes upon his grandson. Emotions, love, deceit and a phone call is all that it takes to change their lives for good.
Understanding that movies and books are two completely different media that offer dissimilar experiences is something that is clearly lacking in this film. What the book makes up for in description and has you imagine, is clearly interpreted and shown in the film; thus making the whole fare not the least bit imaginative. It is wrong to say that the filmmaker did not know this, as clearly some scenes have been improvised and done differently. But in all honesty these improvisations are commonplace and lack the zing. The other folly is the fact that strong characters have been given to performers who do no justice whatsoever to the character. Undoubtedly the film is extremely well provided for with witty and conversational dialogues that do wonders for your facial muscles, however short lived and incoherent.
The entertainment in the film comes from small moments that you are expected to hold on to throughout the entire sober ride. Like watch Joshi battle it out with the devil in him. Or watch Joshi and his one liners. That brings us to the other aspect; the film basically rides on Joshi. Not that the book was different. However on film, it is just all the more difficult for one actor to take it entirely on his shoulders. It also makes the other characters seem less important, hence questioning the reason for their presence. It boils down to the fact of questions who in fact is the protagonist and if Joshi is, why not cut to the chase and tell us more about him than having to dabble here and there with things that read nicely in a book but look out of place on screen?
Additionally, there is a lack of explanation that the film provides. Though it takes us into the life of each character and tries to make the audience understand where it is that they stem from, it looks unconvincing. The editing in most parts is careless and could have certainly been slicker. On the other hand, the camera work and some of the shots framed are certainly good. The use of a crucial element like music is overlooked in this film.
What makes the film so humdrum is the cast. Very simply barring Sohail Khan and Joshi, no body even bothers to look interested. Joshi’s performance is first rate and so is Khan’s in most parts. Koppikar emotes well but the moment the sound comes on, it’s a complete mismatch and falls flat. Arora is dire. Saxena and Panag look and act jaded.
Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, in their minute roles, do the job but make no impact. Mennon, on the other hand, manages to infuriate very well.
There are some films that will increase book sales by a great margin, Hello is so not going to be one of them. Certainly the film is different, but not the different that is likable or watchable. Spend half the money and buy the book instead.