When I first saw the poster of Tum Milo To Sahi, it looked very interesting. A film centred around the relationships between three couples belonging to different generations and positioned as meetings of souls, minds & hearts is a gargantuan canvas. In the hands of a good director, this canvas could end up as a masterpiece. Then I looked a little closer and saw the director’s name in this case – Kabir Sadanand. Kabir’s last, and his debut was the immensely forgettable Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao. And that was just a love triangle. Here, we were talking geometric progression in terms of complexity.
Tum Milo… starts with a ditty that goes Its not about the coffee, its about you and me honey. And the constant references to coffee were the only thing I couldn’t figure out in this spécimen de l’art moderne. A “specimen” of modern art because the gargantuan canvas is splashed with every single stereotype one can think of in metropolitan India. You have the cruel & heartless multinational; the ill-tempered old man, the good natured old woman, the couple distraught by the pressures of a fast life, the greenhorn student from some village & the young career oriented modern girl. Maybe that’s where the coffee bit came in…after all, coffee shops are where these city-slickers spend three-fourths of their lives in. Whatever…
So, we have a meeting of souls, minds & hearts in the backdrop of aromatic freshly brewed coffee. The first one was a delight…since the souls happened to be two of the finest actors in contemporary Bollywood. Nana Patekar & Dimple Kapadia present a masterclass on how to make a shoddy film enjoyable simply with sterling performances. Watch Nana delight us as Subramaniam, an eccentric tamil bachelor, a typist in a law firm who has been pronounced a dinosaur in this era of computerization. And snuggle up in the warmth of Dimple’s Dilshad Irani, the matriarchal proprietor of an Irani café, battling for existence against the onslaught of a multinational chain of coffee shops.
The minds and hearts are a different ballgame altogether. The film has an over-animated Amit (Suniel Shetty), the ambitious CEO of the coffee shop chain & Anita (Vidya Malvade), his wife showcasing its mind and the duo make for quite a retarded one. And the heart is represented by Bikramjeet (a sincere but incapable Rehaan Khan) and Shalini (an indifferent Anjana Sukhani). So, when the minds meet, confusion reigns and when the hearts collide, it ends in a damp squib. Enough said.
My observation about such films is that they try to be profound but end up flat on their face with their lack of depth. For a film made on such a large canvas, it has zilch to show in terms of research & writing. There’s zero authenticity about practically everything that transpires in the film. The way a firm dismisses a long standing employee (insulting him in front of the entire staff just because he has outlived his utility), the way an MNC conducts a meeting (the CEO sits along with the other employees while the promoters present slide-shows with a funny accent), the way decorum is maintained in a private hospital lobby (a wife shouts at the husband at the top of her voice while the staff just looks on and murmers amongst themselves), the way a court case is conducted (a property case judgement being passed in a single sitting, with just 3 witnesses and no evidence)…the list goes on.
In spite of being a film about relationships between people, the characterization in the script seems to have taken no more than 5 minutes. The characters change colour every now and then without any motivation or implication. Subramaniam is established as a quarrelsome loner who can’t get along with anyone and lacks even an iota of empathy. Mid-way through the film, he does an about turn to show a warm and compassionate man. The reasons given for this transformation are too trivial. Dilshad, Amit & Shalini also go through similar transformations for no apparent reason.
There was a family sitting in the row behind mine. I heard one of them say, “Achchi film hai…story kaafi achchi set ki hai”. And one thing became very clear in my mind. The inane crap that was dished out in the 80’s & 90’s has corrupted the Hindi film viewer so much that they’ve completely forgotten what a story means. High time we start looking up to our cinematic heritage of story-telling where the likes of V. Shantaram, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, B.R.Chopra, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Vijay Anand & Lekh Tandon reigned supreme. A story was what films like Do Aankhen Barah Haath, Baazi, Sujata, Hamraaz, Namak Haram & Guide could boast of, and not pretentious fare like this cup of coffee.