Well, at least they've copied a decent flick. But this lifted skeleton of a plot is about all Hum Kaun Hai? has going for it. A frame-by-clumsy-frame interpretation of Nicole Kidman's The Others, the movie has one slightly hysterical Dimple Kapadia, one befuddled Amitabh Bachchan, and a terror that fails entirely to strike. Sad but true.
Sandra (Dimple Kapadia), and her two children, Sara and David, live in a lonely house that has a high turnover of domestic help. Not surprising, since Sandra is spooky enough to make anyone reconsider the seeming merits of minimum wage. She has a strange set of rules that must be enforced with utter rigidity. Any failure to follow said rules will result in the death of her two children or a violent migraine attack for mommy. Quite a cheery little home. The curtains shan't be drawn, the piano shan't be tuned, a door shan't be opened until the one before it's been locked.
And make sure no one goes into flashback mode, featuring the Big B and Dimple lying uncomfortably under a tree and quoting sugary shayari at each other. Curioser and curioser.
Just a week after the help have abandoned them, three mysterious strangers land up on Sandra's doorstep for the position of nanny, housekeeper and valet. They seem to fit into the house with disturbing ease, like it's where they've always belonged. Maushmi Chatterjee, who plays the nanny, is uber-creepy with a grin pasted perpetually on her matronly mug.
The first half of the movie proceeds with a languid weirdness, unfolding one tentacle of "terror" after another. Sara, the daughter, for instance, sees strange people moving about the house, much to the frustration of her mother. The nanny and her friends seem keen on covering up some graves in the garden. The mother wanders about the house in black lace and candlelight, investigating things that go bump in the night. Like all this wasn't enough, Sandra's long lost husband, Frank (Amitabh Bachchan. Frank?) returns home from the battlefield, and emerges from a dense fog to walk calmly into family life.
The children seem to go along with it. Mandatory papa aa gaye, papa aa gaye scene here. But marital relations seem rather strained as Frank regards all Sandra's vehement hugs and coddles with the famous Bachchan expression that spells: ain?
We can't divulge anymore of the story or the screenplay, without making you snort out your Coke through your ears. The plot is totally paisa vasool, but it demands so much by way of balance and mood that Hum Kaun Hai? just doesn't deliver. There's a Bees Saal Baad feeling to the whole thing that will amuse and startle you in turns. But it doesn't hold, it doesn't absorb, and nope, it doesn't live up.