Director: Mohit Suri
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan, Rajkumar Rao
Ratings: 2 stars
Months before Humari Adhuri Kahaani hit the theatres Mahesh Bhatt released a book that traces the lives of the film’s characters. All That Could Have Been, he called it. The film draws heavily from the book’s title in essence, because it is what could have been a good
film, but isn’t.
HAK starts with an old, ailing Vasudha (Vidya Balan) collapsing on the streets of Bastar, Chhattisgarh. The film is essentially a flashback digging up what may have landed her in the naxalite-infested land. It has a poignant story at the core, soulful music, fine actors and some great shots. But when these fine actors mouth pointlessly philosophical dialogues and the great shots arrest you purely visually rather than emotionally, there’s a problem.
All the characters in the film are passive philosophers who talk in metaphors and offer insights from the depths of their minds, hearts and intestines – when all they were asked was, ‘how do you like your job’ or ‘what do you think we could change about this garden’. Gardens, because Vidya Balan (Vasudha) plays a florist who happens to mesmerize a young, successful hotel chain owner, Aarav Ruparel (Emraan Hashmi) who sniffs out and handpicks his staff with as much care as Vasudha does her lilies. He is possibly the only hotel owner who lays as much stress on flower arrangement as one does on logistics, finances and the general works of a successful enterprise. To get his fill of the scent of his woman (he misses a flight to stop and smell the lilies at one point) Aarav appoints Vasudha as a florist at his Dubai hotel, an offer she hesitantly takes up leaving behind her son and husband-on-the-run of five years, Hari (Rajkumar Rao) — a regressive man who gets his name tattooed on her arm to lay claim on her ‘jism’ and ‘saansein’.
Now, choosing between staying faithful to a misogynist husband on the run and giving in to the advances of a smitten, good-natured millionaire bachelor may be a no-brainer for most women, but Vasudha is truly torn between the choices that lay ahead of her, thanks to the shackles of the mangalsutra that she keeps clutching on to, as a reminder of her marital vows. Thoroughly confused, she makes an attempt to walk away from it all — quite literally, lugging around her humongous trolley bag on a lonely desert road after leaving behind a note, only to be stopped by Aarav who zooms past in an SUV. This is one of the visually pleasing, but utterly silly scenes that we spoke about earlier.
But the resurgence of the missing husband changes the game for all three and what follows is a war of choices between sanskar, riwaaz and good sense. Hari gets mangled in an ugly court case so he can be a wedge between his wife and her lover, Aarav puts his business at stake to help his lover’s husband while in the meantime, Vasudha, again, can’t decide which one of the two to support or let go.
The film boasts of fine actors, but cheesy dialogues and poorly sketched out characters and equations fail to create an impression, performance-wise. Vidya Balan does a splendid job holding up a teardrop that threatens to roll down any minute and Hashmi emotes well too (without a lip lock for the first time in his career) but the performances fail to uplift the limping narrative. A talented actor like Rajkumar Rao too, is reduced to a caricaturish character. Thanks to the film’s music by Ami Mishra, Jeet Gannguli, and Mithoon, the film picks up in parts and brings to life to some scenes.
The film is largely a run-down version of the other films that have drawn from the lives of the Bhatts, but it in the last five minutes, director Mohit Suri surprises you with a coherent and dramatic conclusion that strings together stray pieces of the story to form a clear, pretty picture. Too bad the only good part lasts for not more than three minutes, but for its worth, it does give a fitting closure to what seems unfinished business, as the title suggests....