The “boy meets girl and falls in love during a road trip” formula gets a rainbow-hued additive in Hum Bhi Akele, Tum Bhi Akele. Mansi (Zareen Khan) and Veer (Anshuman Jha) becomes fast friends after undergoing identical experiences. She is a lesbian who leaves her home before she can be married. He is gay and leaves home before he can be engaged.
A road trip seals their simpatico relationship. But for the fact that they are not sexually involved with each other, they are the perfect couple.
The screenplay, by director Harish Vyas and Susan Fernandes, sometimes plays out like an LGBTQ variation of Jab We Met. Mansi is exuberant and messy, Veer is reserved and neat-and-tidy. She is more comfortable with herself than he is, and unlike him, hasn’t hidden her truth from her family.
The contrasts in personality provide the occasional zing in a film that has no shortage of empathy or, unfortunately, footage. Sometimes playing out like a stereotypical arthouse drama, with stretches of overly lengthy conversations, Hum Bhi Akele, Tum Bhi Akele frequently undercuts its potential for wisdom gleaned through light-hearted and fleet fun.
Perhaps the ponderousness has to do with the underdeveloped plot, which deftly sets up its premise but then doesn’t quite develop it. How do a sensitive but lonely queer man and woman find common ground? Is there more to the relationship between Veer and Mansi than circumstance? The 118-minute movie doesn’t have too much that is new or insightful to say on the subject.
The easy chemistry between Anshuman Jha and Zareen Khan moves matters along. While Jha is typically competent, Zareen Khan provides all the surprises. Ebullient and more relaxed than she has ever been, Khan embraces Mansi’s quirks and possibilities with visible relief.
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