What is the story about?
Veer Pratap Randhawa, a gay man, runs away to Delhi from his impending wedding in Chandigarh to be with Akshay, his boyfriend who is married to the unsuspecting Mitali. Mansi Dubey is a lesbian who comes to Delhi from Lucknow to be united with her girlfriend Nikki. At a party, Veer and Mansi meet each other and bond over their lives. Mansi decides to surprise Nikki by setting out for her home in McLeodganj. When Akshay breaks up with Veer, Veer decides to tag along with Mansi on the trip. Do they find happiness?
Audiences have seen so many iterations of the road-trip movie that you begin to wonder if there's any novelty and excitement left in the genre. Enter Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele, which totally upturns all notions you have about this genre. The idea of placing two LGBTQ protagonists of different genders in a road-trip drama feels surreal and refreshing, and this is one of the film's highlights. Unfortunately, the road-trip element is only one bit of the film. The film tries to pack in too much, and as a result, it drags in terms of pace. Director Harish Vyas and his co-writer Susan Fernandes know they have to be vey careful while portraying the issues faced by the community, and they are largely successful in that endeavour. However, the film falters when it moves outside the orbit of Veer and Mansi's narrative. Akshay and Nikki, the objects of affection in the lives of the lead characters, are very unidimensional characters, and aside from the vacuousness of Akshay's married life, we don't really know anything about them or why Veer and Mansi love them a lot.
Then there's that second half, where all the cheeriness and optimism of the first half becomes replaced by maudlin melodrama in the second half. The lack of pace in the narrative becomes jarring at this point, because you keep waiting for the film to end. And when the end comes, or more specifically, in the last twenty minutes, the film chooses a very convenient, safe ending that totally belies the pathbreaking narrative it had set out to portray. All in all, this film could have been so much more.
Both Anshuman Jha and Zareen Khan are likable as Veer and Mansi, and their characters share a warm camaraderie that lightens the mood of the film a lot. Jha is expectedly assured, but it is Zareen Khan's Mansi who is the surprise package, infusing Mansi with a rare dignity even in her boisterousness. Gurfateh Pirzada feels a little uptight and staccato as Akshay, but Prabhleen Kaur is heartbreakingly real as Mitali, who is unaware of her husband's secret life. Jahnvi Rawat makes an impression as Nikki.
Music & Other Departments
Farouk Mistry's camerawork is good, capturing the splendour of the mountains in full glory. Oni-Adil have nothing much to do in the background score department, but they compose a few decent tracks, with Bulla Ki Jaana and Nazdeekiyan standing out.
The camaraderie between Veer and Maansi is infectious and refreshing to watch.
There is a dinner-table sequence in the middle of the film that acts as a bridge between the first half and the second half. It is impressively handled. Having said that, how you perceive this sequence will determine whether you like this film or not.
The biggest flaw with the film's screenplay is its pace. It feels long and drawn-out at places, and you keep waiting for the next scene to drop, because you know what's coming next.
Some portions in the screenplay, especially the second half, feel unconvincing and contrived. For instance, it is mind-boggling to think that two people have run away from home, and their families have not made any effort to contact them or look for them. Also, the denouement to the Akshay-Mitali track feels forcibly tacked-on.
And then, finally, there's the last twenty minutes, where, after all the woke and refreshing anecdotes, the film chooses to embrace full-blown melodrama.
Did I enjoy it?
I found the first half engrossing, but the last twenty minutes are simply unwatchable.
Do I recommend it?
You can give this a shot if you like stories veering off the beaten path and LGBTQ-themed narratives. However, this film may not be for everyone.