A group of college students enters 10 minutes late. Of course they are chattering. Loudly. As they shuffle across me.  A girl who has actually (really?) seen the film earlier gives them a vague update on what has happened so far.

The vagueness of her story-telling makes them ask more questions and the chatter goes on for some more time. When they finally settle down, the girl who has seen the movie before dials a number and starts cooing into it. I stomp off and change seats. I can hear them sniggering.

Another group enters late and sits down to the left of me, thankfully a few seats away. Yet another group enters late and sits down to the right of me, giving me a wide berth. I am khush.

The people on the right tentatively deposits an infant in the seat nearest to me. But perhaps my scowl is fluorescent.  It makes them change their mind. They take the infant and place it in the aisle near their feet, presumably to be trampled upon by hovering popcorn vendors.

I look at them in horrified disgust. They ignore me. The man then spends the rest of the film talking to his clients. From the various instructions about a car in Mira Road, and a driver in Vasai, I gather he runs a transport company.

Suddenly, a man 2 rows behind starts yelling abuse. I turn around thinking that finally someone has lost their head in the way I’ve been wanting to for the last 40 minutes. But the man is raging with eyes in space. Ah, a hands-free phone. “Tell the bastard that we won’t do anything till we get the money.” He starts walking towards the exit, yelling all the way, his ‘b******d’s and ‘f******’s lighting his way.

I burrow into my seat and think viciously that an audience like this deserves a film like ‘Tum Mile’. We have become so desensitized as a society that we deserve to pay obscene amounts of money to watch complete shit about 2 people who make the most boring couple in the world.

Why write a script where two ex-lovers meet after 6 years on a day that is bound to give them bad hair?

Soha Ali Khan is gutsy. Her hair goes from wet rats tails to dried frizz. Perfectly natural when one has been pelted by the rain for hours. But since the 26 July 2005 deluge is only a pretext for the two ex-lovers, Sanjana (Soha) and Akshay (Emran Hashmi) discovering that they are after all, just right for each other, surely a background kinder to the heroine’s hair could be chosen for this reconciliation of kindred boring souls?

Sanjana is rich and modern. She lives alone, then lives with her boyfriend. She enters a room and takes off her shirt and does the rest of the scene in her slip. She lounges around in teddy shorts. She displays a beautiful cleavage whenever she can. Soha is comfortable with her body. She does little things with her eyebrows and a flick of her hand that tell us she knows about acting. And yet, I spend the better part of the film wondering why she does not allure, why she remains an ordinary girl. Surely I should admire her for acting an ordinary girl, but I find myself resenting the total lack of glamour.

Even her supposedly rich father lacks glamour. Sachin Khedekar does not look like rich Sanjana’s rich father, but in his black shiny coat, a lawyer soliciting clients for 100-200 rupees outside Bandra Court.

Emran Hashmi seems to have put a cap on his sleaziness. But that unfortunately just makes him flatter than a paper dosa. He’s nothing without his torrid kisses. He plays an inexplicably bitter painter.

Inexplicable because in fact, he paints for the common man. Melting moons and beautiful sad women by windows, which in the real world, should sell like hot cakes to hotel lounges. Instead he is poor. Even though the ‘common’ electrician too loves his painting. There is much talk about the opinion of the common man. It’s a message to all those out there, yes, the critics may bash our work, but the common man loves us.

Sadly, the ‘common men’ watching ‘Tum Mile’ did not seem too happy on the ride.

There is no point in even elaborating on the illogicalities in the plot. There are many but they float like dead rats in the dirty water. However, because this is a love story, and not a documentary, we do not see the dead rats.

What remains is a sense of terrible boredom. The two narrative threads, the past and the present, play like two different stories. The trouble is that Sanjana and Akshay are just not interesting enough a pair for us to be interested in their love, hate, love lives. You feel sad that Sanjana hasn’t found anyone more worthy in all these years.

Akshay is given a chance to vindicate his earlier ‘loser’ status, someone who had to let his girlfriend pay the bills, by now flying business class, buying art galleries and going to Tokyo to pick up awards for his design company. He is also given several chances at displaying his manly heroics during the flood, while Sanjana is suitably, femininely helpless and afraid.

What is conveniently forgotten is that things went wrong in the past because Akshay didn’t communicate. That Sanjana just got tired of dealing with someone who was so self-obsessed.  All doubts about compatibility are washed away in the deluge.

A shorter version of this review published here.

BTW, header photo by Teja.

 

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