Shameless brand placement seems to be the order of the day. It was all somehow more honest in the days of DD when a black strip would cover half the screen and inform you that this part of the programme was sponsored by Nirma Washing Powder.
The ridiculously marketed Hum Tum is slathered all over with brands, from Times Of India to NDTV and even Ruffles Lays. All that and cartoon romance? Well, the combination turns out to be not as bad as you might have feared.
Those pesky little cartoon characters that appear in the promos of this film are creations of Karan (Saif Ali Khan), whose comic strip in the afore-mentioned newspaper is a huge hit all over the country. Such a big hit, in fact, that he's encouraged to write a book about his two characters, Hum (pesky boy) and Tum (pesky girl). The book also turns out to be a huge hit, and as Karan pours his heart out at a press conference we are told the story of his life.
The plot itself is (un)inspired by When Harry Met Sally, and a good portion of the film takes you through the several chance meetings between boy and girl. Saif as Karan plays the same flirt he was in Kal Ho Naa Ho, Dil Chahta Hai and even, come to think of it, in Main Khiladi Tu Anari. Still, the guy is in his element here and that comic talent we discovered in DCH is very much intact. Saif is probably the best part about this film, and solely responsible for a whole star in the rating.
Karan meets Rhea (Rani Mukerji) for the first time on their way to New York, when he annoys the hell out of her by sputtering into her food, hitting on her shamelessly and, finally, by planting a great big smacker on her mouth. In his defence, this was the only way to shut her up. But being the respectable Indian girl she is, she slaps him and after a fierce lecture on Men Like You, walks out of his life. Till the next chance meeting.
After another hostile meeting, they only clap eyes on each other years later at Rhea's wedding. A somewhat sozzled-looking Abhishek Bachchan plays the dulha, who, sadly enough, cops it by intermission.
So now we're left with boy, girl and no apparent obstacles. While girl tries to get over the loss of her husband, boy does everything he can to bring her out of the dumps. The parents of the two play an important role in the entire story. Kirron Kher, as Rhea's mother, has her Punju accent in place, and does an alright (if overdone) job of it. Rishi Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri play Saif's estranged parents. But you wonder why they broke up in the first place, with so much love sloshing about between them.
Now that the coast is clear for romance, Karan and Rhea take a while to walk the last mile. And it's not helped by Karan trying to marry her off to someone else (Jimmy Shergill). While everything gets righted out, we watch a song in the rain, an airport scene and a good bit of crying.
The director of this film, Kunal Kohli, was the halfway cerebral Bollywood critic who hosted a show called Foltene Chalo Cinema (for the jobless people who still remember stuff like this). Then he went and made a movie called Mujhse Dosti Karoge. Hum Tum is better, rest completely assured. How much better?
Well, it has its moments of funny. Rani Mukerji is good, if a little hysterical in parts. The narration of the story is done using animated segues; an interesting concept executed well. The cartoon characters are tiresome and seriously lacking in cute. The story moves around quite a bit, so you get a little bit of Paris, New York and Amsterdam, apart from Mumbai. The movie is shot well, and has some decent music.
But if you're looking for one reason to watch this film, Saif Ali Khan would be it. Nothing new, like we said, but better all the time.