`Hello` fails to live up to magic of Bhagat`s book (IANS Film Review)
Hello, hello, hello? What is this, boss?
Chetan Bhagat`s bestseller "One Night @ The Call Centre" is converted
on celluloid to `One Excruciating Night At A Call Centre`.
The six much-loved characters have a past before they gather at a call centre
run by boss Dalip Tahil who dreams, sings and performs bodily functions based on
his migration to Boston.
The call centre resembles a large Ekta Kapoor set for a saas-bahu serial. Those
at least are less dead at the centre.
Crammed into this word space of telephonic babble are a betrayed wife (Amrita
Arora), a girl (Gul Panag) who`s being forced by her singing-dancing-demented
mother to marry an NRI, a mixed-up frazzled neurotic chick (Isha Koppikar), a
senior citizen (Sharad Saxena) who`s been deserted by his son and two guys --
Sharman Joshi and Sohail Khan -- who don`t seem to know what they want.
Frankly, neither does this film. The filmmaker seems to be confused about the
characters faster than we can keep up with their mind space.
What works within a novel`s format need not work as a film. The characters seem
thoroughly scattered and go every which way that the woozy screenplay takes
them. After a while, we just give up trying to make sense of the jumble of
characters and their problems.
Maybe a call-centre to provide a centre to these call-centre-ists?
Attempts to recreate a call centre atmosphere are restricted to random shots of
distressed gori ladies ((white women), like the one who asks one of our
protagonists why she can`t wash her bras in the dishwasher and a guy on a plane
who insults India precipitating a patriotic harangue from Sohail, who
incidentally swings like a celluloid Tarzan from comic virtuosity to outbursts
of incendiary indignation.
Sohail as always is what keeps us from walking out.
Staging a walkout would be the mildest form of protest for this urbane atrocity.
What Anurag Basu achieved effortlessly in "Life... In A Metro" is here
reduced to a mocking pantomime of urbane angst.
The film goes from fretful episodes mimicking the saucy witticism of the
American series "Friends", to a cheaply ironic shot at
"Conversations With God" when our group of muddled call centre
suburban nearly topple over and plunge to their death and are rescued by, ha ha,
God saves these ginks. But who will save this weird look-see at longings and
eccentricities of people who would rather be unhappy than happy?
A few redeeming moments (like the time when Amrita connects with her
long-distance husband and finds out about his extra-marital affair) cannot
salvage this hip-and-non-happening disaster, probably the worst film you`ll see
`Hello` ....is a tale about the events that happen one night at a call
center. Told through the views of the protagonist, Shyam, it is a story of
almost lost love, thwarted ambitions, absence of family affection, pressures of
a patriarchal set up, and the work environment of a globalized office.
Shyam is losing his girl friend because his career is going nowhere as he
trudges his way around in a call center. His girl friend, Priyanka is also an
agent like him at the call center who is about to be snatched by an NRI techno
Greek. There is also the aspiring model, Esha, who is hoping for the break that
seems to be always already eluding her and the man about town, Vroom, who is
into well, things. The housewife, Radhika, who is constantly at the receiving
end of her mother-in-law and a beleaguered grandfather, Military uncle, who has
been barred from interacting with his grandchild make up the rest of the call
agents who see their worlds crumbling around them as the decisions of right
sizing are conveyed by Bakshi, the boss. It is a night when dreams will finally
crumble. Or will it?
For there is that call from God. Narrated as a tale within a tale as a
beautiful woman meets the auteur narrator and promises him a story on the
condition that he has to narrate it further, HELLO, based on Chetan Bhagat`s
`One Night @ The Call Center`, is the one remarkable story from tales from a
thousand and one globalizing, urban Indian nights.