Tanuja Chandra returns this weekend with Hope and a little sugar after a hiatus since her last flick- Zindagi Rocks! Unlike her previous venture, 'Hope' marks her first English language film.
Set in New York in the weeks before and after 9/11, Hope and a little sugar is a poignant tale of love set against the forces of hate and intolerance centers on the romance between an aspiring Muslim photographer and a young Sikh woman.
Bike messenger, Ali Siddiqui (AMIT SIAL, debutant) meets the beautiful but married Saloni (MAHIMA CHAUDHRY,) a charismatic mithaai shop owner who encourages Ali's photography and becomes his muse. Despite Ali's secret and largely unrequited crush on Saloni, he develops a close friendship with her and her husband Harry (VIKRAM CHATWAL). But when tragedy strikes with the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001, her father-in-law, a retired army Colonel (ANUPAM KHER), devastated by grief and anger, directs his longstanding animosity towards Muslims at Ali, as the young man's affection for Saloni grows increasingly evident. Although the Colonel's wife (SUHASINI MULAY) bravely tries to pacify her husband, the Colonel, unable to accept life's pain, threatens to bring everything to a violent end.
To start off with, 'Hope and a little sugar' isn't your usual 9/11 film with terrorist bashing or so. 'Hope' is more of an emotional drama that really gets you involved into the lives of the family members undergoing the trauma of losing a loved one.
Tanuja Chandra has executed really well as both the writer as well as director of the film. The story and screenplay may seem a little slow paced but the drama and intensity of events keeps you glued. If one expects the typical bollywood meets Hollywood crossover Hinglish flick, 'Hope' isn't meant for them. No harm in calling 'Hope' a crossover film but don't expected those cliché 'naach-gaana' and that entire goody goody boy meets girl stuff.
'Hope' also comes with its share of drawbacks especially in terms of the justification of events. The romance between Mahima and Amit Sial germinates just too quickly after the death of her husband, without any apt justification. There lacks a certain sense of believability in the manner in which Mahima is totally mesmerized by seeing her photos on Amit's apartment wall and the events that follow in the midst of an angry father-in-law Kher.
Nevertheless, the performances of the film draw you away from such minor glitches. Mahima Chaudhry does extremely well and gives the true so called international look to the film. She emotes well and in fact, since Pardes maybe the audiences have never seen Mahima enact so well.
Amit Sial does really well for a debutant expressing the trauma of a broken past with excellence.
Suhasini Mulay is just so apt. There couldn't have been a better mom expressing herself in the midst of a crisis between convincing her husband of their son's death and on the other hand leaving the rest to the almighty.
The finest performance comes from Anupam Kher as the Sikh dad. The possessiveness, the love and care expressed for his son is just fabulous. Kher explodes in various scenes expressing his anger and helplessness at the same time. Don't mind the F's and B's , but the sequence in the bar where he blames the Muslims and another sequence where he explodes at Amit Sial are simply terrific. If you thought that was all from the angry father, just watch him burst to tears and cry out in pain of losing his beloved. The film truly belongs to him.
No scope for Vikram Chatwal and the music of the film is minimal and acts as a background theme. Cinematography and editing are ok.
On the whole, 'Hope and a little sugar' is a simple, sweet film which was screened two years ago at the internation