Every good movie is infused with a unique spirit that is very hard to miss. If it’s there, one senses it. It’s in the rhythm and pacing of every shot in every scene. It cannot be confused with sentimentality flooding the screen. Tumse Na Ho Payega is another lifeless film from writers Nikhil Mehrotra and Nitesh Tiwari. The duo had worked as writers in the latter’s directorial venture Bawaal, which was so stilted in its metaphors that it became preposterous. This one, directed by Abhishek Sinha, is perhaps less jarring, but it’s a bit of a straight story. It would be more accurate to say that the complex story, which is inspired by Varul Agarwal’s book How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company, is made into a dull one by the writers. Varun Agarwal is an entrepreneur whose story has inspired thousands of others to take their own journeys and start their own business. Imagine how complex it is to start one’s own business, and that too after quitting your job and risking the ridicule of society. Whatever you imagine will have been an improvement to the kind of treatment Tumse Na Ho Payega has given to that story.
Ishwak Singh plays Gaurav, a young, middle-class boy living with his single mother who sees through the fake world created by people on social media. His perspective on the whole thing is quite refreshing, but he is fed up with his job and yet participates in the same facade of a happening life on social media, telling everyone how great his job is. After 5 years of this charade, the time had come to risk it all and go for his own business. His buddies, Sharad, played by Gaurav Pandey, and Hardik, played by Gurpreet Saini, play a huge role in this major career switch. The biggest hurdle he crosses is not related to capital investment, the business idea, or even the executive domain. No Sir! The biggest hurdle is Anu Aunty, whose son Arjun could be a poster boy for an overachieving and insensitive jerk. Anu Aunty influences the entire neighborhood, creating a barometer for what success looks like. Gaurav doesn’t begin his journey out of a need to shut Anu Aunty up, but somebody had to do it.
I haven’t read the novel, but Tumse Na Ho Payega doesn’t say it’s an adaptation of it. It says it’s ‘inspired’ by it. Whatever the difference, novels have the great luxury of detailing events. A topic can be introduced, explored, and then tied back to the main story. Films have to find shots and scenes that do all three things almost simultaneously. The story begins with Gaurav, who has to set up the conflict quickly. So, the montage sequence comes in, suggesting how Gaurav is being bothered by society’s gaze. The tone of the movie ensures things are kept light, as perhaps the heavy stuff is coming later. But the heavy conflict never comes. There is never a feeling that Gaurav will fail. The alternate title of the film could have been Easy Peasy—starting a business sure is easy. Nitesh Tiwari, the Dangal fame writer, has said in an interview that life doesn’t write screenplays. That doesn’t mean screenplays shouldn’t write ‘life’ at all. There is a feeling here that the makers are saying to the audience that we have all the basic stuff here in the film. White smiles, some tears, frowning villains—now all you have to do is sit and enjoy yourself by imagining that version of the story that you would have related to.
This is a young person’s story. Written by Nitesh and Nikhil, this just seems out of touch with what it’s supposed to represent. The dialogue is dull; there is no vigor, and even the performers seem to struggle to lift the dialogue. There is almost a template being followed. Some of the old Hindi movies had the typical hero, the villain, the sobbing mother, and the love interest, and to their credit, they didn’t shy away from acknowledging their truth. The idea was to blow you over with heightened emotions. Things like logic and reality were not allowed to come in between that kind of sentimentality. Tumse Na Ho Payega is wary of that kind of storytelling, for it feels dated now, and for good reason. So, instead, there is a laid-back approach to the events. Even if there is a crisis, there is no real hurry or panic, neither in the camera movement nor in the characters. The editing, too, seems to be in favor of dragging things on, with the cuts taking the juice out of the ‘snappy’ dialogues.
The performances in Tumse Na Ho Payega are tedious at times. The casting also leaves something to be desired. Ishwak Singh is not that young to pull Gaurav off. But even that aside, the dialogue delivery feels constricted and has the quality that they had to get everything in one take. There is caution in everybody’s performance that doesn’t let the camera capture the characters. The music is good, which makes some scenes more enjoyable than they are.
Tumse Na Ho Payega would have proved to be a great learning ground for debutant director Abhishek Sinha. The script is a simple one for him. There is no subtext and almost no through-line for the scenes. But Abhishek has to have a film where he fails big. He has to have a vision that isn’t just limited to musical dialogues in the beginning. What does it mean cinematically to tell a story that is trying to capture the ‘can do’ spirit? The film’s title literally translates to ‘You cannot do it,’ which the characters challenged. How will the spirit be captured? And it isn’t like the story doesn’t lend itself to the idea. But it seems everybody’s focus was to make the film interesting but not meaningful. Ultimately, the viewer will get the gist, but the ‘can do’ spirit will not seize theirs. The film seems too sanitized and doesn’t have an iota of the quality of being a ‘labor of love,’ which Gaurav’s company ‘Maa’s Magic’ was.