wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)
Hope & a little sugar is a love story with a backdrop of terrorism. Yet it has no speeches and has a very subtle narration style. Worth a cozy DVD watch.Read more
NOT A REVIEW - Looking at what I'm up for this Friday
Another week without any "high profile" releases. Seeing too many of thesesuch weeks this year. Wonder what's cooking at all the big production houses. Anyway, up this Friday is Hope & a little sugar, another one based around the 9/11 timeframe, this time set in New York.
Terrorist-event based movies have the first thing going right for them. The human element in the story is so well-known, that the audience already has emotions set for various characters - Sympathy for the victim, apathy towards the terrorist. Of course, they lose interest if the story is not captivating enough or if it is not told well. But, since it has won the best feature film award at the South Asian International Film Festival (2006) - New York City, it could mean that we have that in order. On the other hand, this film festival just seems to be an avenue for independent "Indian" filmmakers to showcase their movies. To be fair, there were a handful of movies from Pakistan and Sri Lanka too.
Interestingly, while the producers found the script interesting at first look, a lot of back and forth seems to have happened over the net between the two writers. Not to mention that location recce-ing, dress designing and editing happened over the web too!
the production mirrored the cross-cultural energy of the story itself in any number of ways. Bridging the geographic and cultural gap between Manhattan and Mumbai with hundreds of emails, Russow and Chandra worked night and day re-crafting and polishing the script... ...The cast was assembled in both India and New York, with screen tests streamed online to both locations for approvals. Similarly, costumes and set decorations were developed and created by teams working in both India and New York... (Director Chandra says)... the producers would get pieces of the film edited and I'd see the edited version online and note down the changes that I'd want them to make...
I'm sure a lot of things are done over email in any movie, but it seems to have been used extensively here. Makes me really curious to see how it has translated on screen. Other than that there is hardly any news around this movie.
- meeta, a part of the audience
A movie set around the 9/11 bomb blasts and no overt messages being lectured across the screen! It’s about Indians staying abroad, yet none of the typical cultural drama related to diaspora. Okay, I know this sounds like I liked the movie more because of what it was not, rather than for what it was. But, this movie is a simple love story set in the middle of the Hindu-muslim divide prevalent in the South Asian community settled in the US.
In about 75 minutes, four characters and their situation are all developed reasonably well. In fact, in just two adorable scenes the romance Ali (Amit Sial) feels for his beloved is established. Also, director, Tanuja Chandra makes a very smart move by not telling us much about the relationship between Saloni (Mahima Choudhary) and Harry (Vikram Chatwal). It adds to the believability of what is to follow.
Situations transitioned from one to another very subtly without too many dialogues. Characters were smart enough to understand the situation without the other having to spell it out for them. The audience too was treated with respect and not spoon-fed. I realized that I've become so used to melodrama when I felt relief at every point where melodrama could have been so easily resorted to. There were a couple of times when an awkward situation is built up to a pregnant pause, to be resolved with a simple one liner - straight just as is, without any ham-haw-ing.
Having said that, a couple of character transitions happened a bit too quickly and thus tilted towards unbelievable. This could also be because the focus seemed to be on narrating the over-simplified story rather than presenting it from a particular character's point of view. This I thought is what created a certain distance between the characters and the audience.
But, at most times you felt for the characters because of sincere performances from the entire cast. It was so refreshing to see Anupam Kher in a role that has his name written all over it. The pride, the joy, the grief, the hatred are all translucent for you to see through. Your hearts reach out to Mahima and Amit too. And I think this is the first time I have seen so many expressions on Suhasini Mulay's, otherwise stiff face.
Like the style of narration, the camerawork was also subtle with minimal movements. Also, the colors used had a dull, yet realistic, hue. There were no bright colors staring at your face. In fact, the colors almost matched the stock footage used of the 9/11 blasts.
Hope and a little sugar is a short and sweet story told well. The characters are charming and their treatment is thought out. But yet, there is this weird gap left by unexplained and super-quick transformations in characters and situations.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Sevanand Gaddala, Now Running.com : ...Chandra must be commended for taking a tragedy and not exploiting it for sentiment or using it to dress some mindless fare in serious garb.... full review
So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Though the exuberant star does surprisingly well for a part that seems to have no real personality or mind of her own, her wardrobe screams B-o-l-l-y-w-o-o-d.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Hope & A Little Sugar makes an important point, and for the most part, does it in a way that's simple enough to understand. But there are still enough holes that leave you feeling... full review
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Warning: this section has some details that could distort your experience while watching the movie. I strongly recommend reading this only after you have seen the movie or if you have decided not to see it.
Ali - a bike messenger for money, an aspiring photographer at heart finds himself falling in love with a married woman Saloni (Mahima Choudhary). This obviously is a problem...