Director: Abhishek Jain
Writer: Abhishek Jain, Prashant Jha, Deepak Venkateshan
Cast: Kriti Sanon, Rajkummar Rao, Paresh Rawal, Aparshakti Khurana, Ratna Pathak Shah, Manu Rishi Chadha, Prachi Shah
Cinematographer: Amalendu Chaudhary
Editor: Dev Rao Jadhav
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
The sole joy in Hum Do Hamare Do is seeing the formidable Ratna Pathak Shah shine. Here she plays Dipti, a widow who agrees to pretend to be the mother of an orphan named Dhruv because he needs parents to convince his girlfriend Anya to marry him. If this plot sounds familiar, it is because we saw a version of it in 14 Phere, which released in July.
In this film, the charade creates new relationships but also reopens old wounds and rekindles old affections. In the film's best scene, Dipti tells Dhruv about her estrangement with her own son and the importance of truth and understanding within a family. There is such anguish in her eyes that she almost alleviates this painfully banal dramedy into something meaningful.
In fact, I think that if Hum Do Hamare Do had focused more on the senior couple – Dipti and Purushottam, played by Paresh Rawal – it might have located the authenticity and emotion that the story hints at but never develops. Instead, director Abhishek Jain, who is credited along with Deepak Venkateshan for the story, and screenplay writer Prashant Jha keep Dhruv and Anya centerstage. They are a cool Chandigarh couple. We know this because she's a blogger with millions of followers and he has a start-up that creates VR content. His job plays a minuscule role in the plot but hers is entirely incidental. Once it allows them to meet, it's dispensed with. For someone whose livelihood is social media, Anya is remarkably clueless. She doesn't figure out that she's being duped until a supremely convenient plot twist reveals Dhruv's ruse.
The writing functions at this half-baked mark. Once the playacting begins, the film shifts gear into a comedy of errors with the fake parents not getting their story right or Purushottam being unable to keep his longing for Dipti in check – the two have their own colourful past. With the support and love of his make-believe parents, Dhruv also changes. Family, the film argues, isn't necessarily what you are born into. Relationships can be created and nurtured.
It's a lovely sentiment, which the film fritters away with mediocre comedy and amateurish plotting. Poor Aparshakti Khurana is once again relegated to best friend status. He gets to say dialogue like – Abbey bro, yeh family full siyappa hoti hai. Chandigarh becomes an excuse to play robust Punjabi tunes as background music. Detailing or depth is nowhere to be found. And my heart went out to the four leads.
There are moments when I could almost see confusion in Rajkummar Rao's eyes as though the National Award-winning actor was wondering how he came to be part of such dull storytelling. Kriti Sanon looks lovely and even manages to add a smidgen of emotion to formulaic scenes. But the generic writing doesn't allow her character to become more than an archetype. Paresh Rawal pushes the tragedy and humour of his hapless Purushottam as far as he can take it. But all of them are up against a script that is content to stumble along till we get to the clumsy climax.
What Hum Do Hamare Do does is reaffirm that Bollywood is now ready for a full-bodied senior romance. Think of how magical Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao were in Badhaai Ho. Even without a sparkling script like that one, Ratna and Paresh manage to make you care about them. Let's write these stellar performers their own sweeping love story. And perhaps the young ones can take a break.
You can watch Hum Do Hamare Do on DisneyPlus Hotstar.