Review - Hello: Trying to tell a story when there isn't one.
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Books being converted to movies are always a risky thing to do. Not always does it work out. Even in the case of something as epic as ‘The Godfather’, there is a split on which is better – the book or the movie. I belong to the side that votes for the book. And in the case of ‘Hello’, I feel the makers should not have attempted to bring it to the big screen at all.
It is not so much about the fact that the plot is wafer thin or that the makers have chosen to ignore basic characterization in favor of dramatization. In any case, the backdrop of a call centre is incidental to the story and how it unfolds. Therefore the focus on this aspect seems unnecessary. Since this was always an adaptation of the book, the filmmakers could well have rewritten the backdrop to make it more believable on screen.
The story is a simple one of six call-centre employees working on the same shift and how their lives seem to be intertwined. And then there’s the night when things go awry. The physical setting of the call center (from the outside) looks genuine enough, but inside, it looks nothing short of a resort. Having seen a few call centres, I find it hard to believe that there are only six people working in a ‘bay’ at a time when headquarters (i.e. the US) is looking to cut costs. The very basic one would have expected from an IIM graduate writer when doing the screenplay is to pay more attention to such detail and make better use of the space.
The story begins by appealing to the frontbenchers and Salman Khan doing an item number (rather tackily picturised with plastic water bottles, graphics that don’t belong anywhere and a song that has no meaning). Hereafter he retires to the lounge of his helicopter charter service since he is stuck for over two hours on account of his chopper being repaired. And this is where Katrina Kaif finds him and the story begins.
Shyam/Agent Sam (Sharman Joshi), Varun/Vroom (Sohail Khan), Radhika (Amrita Arora), Eesha (Eesha Koppikar), Priyanka (Gul Panag) and Military Uncle/VP Chauhan (Sharat Saxena) are colleagues and have been it would seem for almost four years. That none of them have a good enough accent when answering calls is a matter for their employer to worry about, not us! But this group is stuck at work on a stormy night when most systems are down and their lives are unraveling. Their evil (and conniving, yet stupid) boss Mr Bakshi (Dalip Tahil) is the common object of hate in the group.
All the actors try their very best to look and be the part of call centre employees. One could argue that director Atul Agnihotri did not want to have a typical teenybopper look to the movie since they all do get identified as a bunch in the age-group of 20-25. Why I think Agnihotri didn’t want to typecast is because none of them look like they fit this age group. Especially Gul Panag and Sohail Khan.
As the night progresses, so does the childish nature of the entire narrative. While most of the sequences in the book itself were hard to digest, the movie makes it even worse. (There are typical references to gays and how Mr Bakshi is ok with it since this is an American company).
Of the cast, Sharman Joshi shines through the cast as the confused team leader who has recently broken up with Priyanka. Eesha Koppikar hams her way through what could have been a better written role while Amrita Arora spends most of the time looking like a dolled up bahu dissatisfied with life. Sharat Saxena is honest to his role, but he doesn’t have much to do and once again, the characterization leaves much to be desired.
Gul Panag in her role as Priyanka is bound to catch everyone’s eye. For she has spent a lot of time showing off her newfound cleavage. It is shocking to see how badly suited she is to the role. She tries to dress up like a 25-year-old, but just can’t pull it off. In the bargain, all she manages is to look like a tramp (and she seriously needs help with make-up to align two mismatched eyebrows!).
When the author of the book himself is doing the screenplay and dialogues, it is expected that he won’t stray too far from the original work. Unfortunately, when the book itself has been written like a screenplay, it is tough to adapt it further to the big screen.
One of the biggest negatives of the movie is the intentional name calling towards ‘goras’. As a one-off, this could have fit into the movie. But repeated insistences like “the mental ability of a 35-year-old American is as much as a 10-year-old Indian” and “Gore to fattu hote hai” aren’t exactly in the best taste.
The entire movie is based on a ‘call from God’ that takes up about 5 minutes at best. Whatever they hear on the call is promptly put into action by the group with ridiculous ease.
Nonetheless, the movie does have its moments when Sohail Khan and Sharman Joshi are on screen and but for their comic timing, the movie would have been nothing short of torturous. With them, it’s up a notch at just unbearable!
This review is by guest reviewer Aditya Kuber. Aditya is a movie fan who lives in Pune. When not watching movies, he loves photography, sports and books. He can often be spotted in a bookstore if not a movie theatre. Whenever he has the time, he also writes for a living. Aditya Kuber also blogs at http://scribbler.in/.
- Violence: Not much; just some chair smashing and shoving.
- Nudity and Sexual content: Lots of cleavage and a pretty detailed sex scene.
- Concept: Six co-workers trapped at work on a stormy night get a call from God to set their life straight.
Hello - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Percept Picture Company
- Producer: Paul Parmar, Funky Buddha Media
- Director: Atul Agnihotri
- Lead Cast: Salman Khan, Gul Panag, Eesha Koppikhar, Sohail Khan, Sharman Joshi, Sharat Saxena
- Supporting Cast: Suresh Menon, Dalip Tahil
- Story: Chetan Bhagat
- Screenplay: Chetan Bhagat
- Dialogues: Chetan Bhagat, Alok Upadhyay, Devashish Makhija
- Cinematography: Sanjay F Gupta, Sanjay F Gupta
- Editor: Umesh Gupta
- Background Score: Sajid, Wajid
- Choreography: Bosco, Caesar Gonsalves
- Music Director: Sajid, Wajid
- Lyrics: Jalees Sherwani
- Art Direction: Muneesh Sappel
- Running time: 115 minutes
- Reviewer: Aditya Kuber
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Comedy