More about anxiety and regret than it is about hope, this is a deceptively simple film. On the one hand it is a film about associative memories that attach itself to machines of everyday use. Cars and cell phones often become extensions of oneself, because though they are inanimate objects and, technically, devoid of souls, they are connected to our conscious and sub-conscious minds, and, by extension, perhaps even to the minds of their inventors and manufacturers. That is why we keep them close, give them names, and are often traumatised if they are lost, damaged or, after years, considered relics.
An ‘Apple’ laptop is connected, on one end, to the user of the machine, but on the other end of the technology stream of consciousness, to a designer called Steve Jobs. At the start of the movie, this is the psychological state of mind in which we find the owner of an ancient German made Soennecken photo copying machine.
Mr. Srivastava (Naseeruddin Shah) sees the ancient and outmoded instrument, badly in need of a new lens, as a metaphor for himself. He sees his own ageing sensibility, about to be retired, discarded for updated versions; perhaps even obsolete, in the photo copier. He calls it Mr. Soennecken, after old Friedrich, the man who started a company for Office Products in 1875.
Srivastava is the oldest of three generations that lives in a joint family. There are sub-plots – with a similar theme about associative memories connected to inanimate objects – for two other members of the family as well. His younger son Nitin (Naveen Kasturia), who has just come home from Dubai, has lost his cellphone and is distraught. All his personal information was in it. All his memories. That is why he has locked the phone. He keeps calling the phone, and suddenly a woman picks up. Instead of returning his phone, she keeps him engaged in endless conversation. He tells people that he has found his lost phone, but hasn’t got it back as yet. This is a conundrum.
Srivastava’s grandson, Anu (Kabir Sajid), is the only one in the family who really understands him. He loves Mr. Soennecken as much, and is loath to see him carted off to make space for newer and more compact machines. A kindred soul, Anu has an anxiety of his own. It is about a little girl he has seen trapped in an ancient trunk; a girl who talks to him and tells him not to tell any of the others where she is hiding. He is attracted to her, at the same time that he is terrified of her. It sounds like a familiar story.
‘Hope Aur Hum’ cuts across these three tales without being intrusive or invasive. The film does not meander or drift. It floats across a single idea. At one point, after Mr. Soennecken is despatched to the afterlife, as it were, his alter ego, Mr. Srivastava, concedes, regretfully, that it is better to be attached to people than to things. Contrarily, the writer and director is able to continue finding connective threads to things.
At an hour and a half, ‘Hope Aur Hum’ is a charming little film that is very easy on the eyes and the mind.