‘Hello’ fails to live up to magic of Bhagat’s book (IANS Film Review - Rating:*)

October 12th, 2008 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Ekta KapoorFilm: “Hello”; Cast: Sohail Khan, Sharman Joshi, Isha Koppikar, Gul Panag, Amrita Arora, Sharad Saxena, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Dalip Tahil; Director: Atul Agnihotri; Rating: *Hello, hello, hello? What is this, boss?

Chetan Bhagat’s bestseller “One Night @ The Call Centre” is converted on celluloid to ‘One Excruciating Night At A Call Centre’.

The six much-loved characters have a past before they gather at a call centre run by boss Dalip Tahil who dreams, sings and performs bodily functions based on his migration to Boston.

The call centre resembles a large Ekta Kapoor set for a saas-bahu serial. Those at least are less dead at the centre.

Crammed into this word space of telephonic babble are a betrayed wife (Amrita Arora), a girl (Gul Panag) who’s being forced by her singing-dancing-demented mother to marry an NRI, a mixed-up frazzled neurotic chick (Isha Koppikar), a senior citizen (Sharad Saxena) who’s been deserted by his son and two guys — Sharman Joshi and Sohail Khan — who don’t seem to know what they want.

Frankly, neither does this film. The filmmaker seems to be confused about the characters faster than we can keep up with their mind space.

What works within a novel’s format need not work as a film. The characters seem thoroughly scattered and go every which way that the woozy screenplay takes them. After a while, we just give up trying to make sense of the jumble of characters and their problems.

Maybe a call-centre to provide a centre to these call-centre-ists?

Attempts to recreate a call centre atmosphere are restricted to random shots of distressed gori ladies ((white women), like the one who asks one of our protagonists why she can’t wash her bras in the dishwasher and a guy on a plane who insults India precipitating a patriotic harangue from Sohail, who incidentally swings like a celluloid Tarzan from comic virtuosity to outbursts of incendiary indignation.

Sohail as always is what keeps us from walking out.

Staging a walkout would be the mildest form of protest for this urbane atrocity. What Anurag Basu achieved effortlessly in “Life… In A Metro” is here reduced to a mocking pantomime of urbane angst.

The film goes from fretful episodes mimicking the saucy witticism of the American series “Friends”, to a cheaply ironic shot at “Conversations With God” when our group of muddled call centre suburban nearly topple over and plunge to their death and are rescued by, ha ha, god.

God saves these ginks. But who will save this weird look-see at longings and eccentricities of people who would rather be unhappy than happy?

A few redeeming moments (like the time when Amrita connects with her long-distance husband and finds out about his extra-marital affair) cannot salvage this hip-and-non-happening disaster, probably the worst film you’ll see this year.

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