October 11, 2008


By Nikhat Kazmi

More stills from Hello http://photogallery.indiatimes.com/ articleshow/3556581.cms

Hello (drama)

Cast: Sharman Joshi, Sohail Khan, Gul Panag, Isha Koppikar, Amrita Arora

Direction: Atul Agnihotri

Critics rating:

Wonder what went wrong? For, boy wonder, Chetan Bhagat's pulp fiction page- turners literally read like a Bollywood masala flick. Reading his recent Three Mistakes... was almost like watching a Hindi film, complete with a fire and brimstone climax that belted out all the right messages about bhaichara (fraternity), ekta (unity), dosti (friendship) and humanism.

One Night at a Call Centre too has the mandatory ingredients, including a brush with divinity. And the devil too! Not forgetting the break-ups, link-ups and patriotic pulp that generally assures foolproof drama.

Not this time, however. The problem lies not so much in the performances as in the turgid screenplay and the tedious plot development which transform the film into an uninspired celluloid adaptation of a successful book.

Also, the filmy touches of adding a bare-chested Salman Khan doing a typical item boy number in the opening reels fails to add the requisite touch of glamour to a boy-next-door story.

Salman, the star, waiting for his helicopter to take-off, replaces the writer who takes a simple train journey from Kanpur to Delhi. Even as the mysterious woman who meets him in the bogey metamorphoses into cheesy Katrina Kaif, relating the story of the momentous night when God calls a bunch of call centre employees, embroiled in a near-death experience.

Only here, the night hasn't turned out to be really momentous, marred by niggling personal and professional problems plaguing the twenty-somethings.

Lovers, Sharman Joshi and Gul Panag are wrought with withdrawal symptoms, as the girl is all set to give up her loser boyfriend for a rich NRI husband. Sohail and Isha don't know whether they are friends or more than friends, since Isha is obsessed with dreams of becoming a super model. Military Uncle wants to bond with his grandson, but for his angry son who hates attachments.

And bhartiya naari, Amrita Arora is on anti-depressants, only to discover she has an adulterous husband. Add to this, an insensitive boss, recession and the threat of pink slips, and you have a bunch of graveyard shift people getting the heebie jeebies. Until God calls....

Sadly, God's pep talk ends up as boring sermonising, while the film slips from intermittent smartness to overriding sloppiness. The only thing that holds Hello together are the performances, specially by Sharman Joshi and Sohail Khan. The duos are eminently watchable.

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