Sudip Bandyopadhyay’s twee family drama is all over the place, but it has its moments. Hope aur Hum begins as an ode to ancient objects, meanders into a young boy’s irrational fears, and wanders off into unchartered territory – all in the space of 96 minutes.
Nagesh (Naseeruddin Shah) is devoted to his old photocopying machine, which should occupy pride of place in a museum but instead squats on vital real estate in his family home. Nagesh refuses to get rid of the contraption, reasoning that if it goes, so will he.
His adorable grandson Anu (Sajid Kabir) supports him, but he has his own demons to slay – playing in the gully cricket team, and getting out of his head the image of what he believes to be a ghost at his maternal grandmother’s home. The sprawling mansion is soon going to be converted into a hotel – a hint for Nagesh, perhaps? – and Anu runs into the ghost during a weekend visit.
Nagesh’s older son Neeraj (Aamir Bashir) frets over a promotion. Nagesh’s younger son Nitin (Naveen Kasturia) loses his mobile phone and finds love during a visit from Dubai. The most redundant character is Aditi (Sonali Kulkarni), who hangs around waiting for the men in her life to make up their minds.
The film’s central focus – something to do with the power of destiny– is as vague as its title, and Bandyopadhyay and co-writer Neha Paawar lose their grip over the proceedings early on. The film is set in the present – indicated by the presence of smartphones – but it feels stubbornly old-fashioned in its depiction of the tensions between the past and the present.
Some sweet moments of family humour and solid performances emerge through the pile-up. The knee-high Sajid Kabir is delightful as Anu, whose obsession with cricket gets a hard knock after that strange encounter with the ghost. Naseeruddin Shah is endearing as the patriarch whose heart lies in the past, even though his motivations remain shrouded in mystery, Although it is hard to imagine a movie in which a young boy matches step with an acting powerhouse, the kid and the thespian makes their scenes count.