And you were expecting a hackneyed love story.
Here's news. Tum Bin will surpass your expectations.
A film revolving around a girl and three men who enter her life, Tum Bin is a good first attempt. Only, it's very evident it's a first attempt.
The beginning -- a hit and run accident. Shekhar Malhotra (Priyanshu Chatterjee), a corporate whiz, kills Amar Shah (Rakesh Bapat), an industrialist from Canada.
Amar was to get married in a week. Unable to live with the guilt and haunted by Amar's fiancée Pia's (Sandali Sinha) poem (which she recites to Shekhar mistaking him for Amar), Shekhar decides to go to Canada to meet Amar's family.
Only sto find an old father numb with grief, a sister who misses her brother and Pia, who is struggling to save the sinking Shah industry.
Predictably, Shekhar manages to get through Pia's prickly defenses, solves math puzzles for Amar's younger sister, wins over Amar's father, grandmother and Pia's best friend. He even manages to weave his magic wand and turn the company around.
There is another twist in the tale -- Abhigyan (Himanshu Malik), a suave business tycoon, who falls in love with Pia at first sight.
That's the first half. Which holds your attention. Especially notable are the scenes which show Shekhar celebrating Diwali alone and his conversations with his friend that portray a man in conflict trying to do the right thing.
Shekhar's attempts to help Pia and his relationship with Amar's sister are fairly well etched, despite some clichéd dialogues and screenplay. His servile attitude in trying to worm his way into letting her work with him, for example. His managing to get a contract within a few hours is rather implausible. The scene when he gifts Pia a hat and asks her to keep smiling is overdone.
The second half disappoints. Unable to tell Pia that he loves her, Shekhar tries at playing martyr. Realising that Abhigyan loves Pia and would be a perfect match, Shekhar tries to make way.
What's interesting here is the way director Anubhav Sinha portrays Shekhar physically moving out of Abhigyan's path or even the scene when Abhigyan realises that Shekhar is also in love with Pia.
Himanshu Malik as Abhigyan fails to convey the required conflict and the third angle in Pia's life. Wooden and stiff in parts, his longwinded and supposedly romantic dialogues fall flat. Continously repeating some mumbo jumbo about a ring, fingers and murmuring Pia's name like a parrot, Abhigyan seems more loony than moony.
His movements are very exaggerated and seem like an extension of his modelling and music video experience.
Abhigyan decides to help Pia's financial problems by buying off her company shares and thus furthering his romantic plans. Shekhar vetoes the idea.
Hurt by his refusal to fall in with her plans, Pia fights with Shekhar only to realise that she has fallen in love with him.
Rebuffed by a guilty Shekhar, Pia decides to marry Abhigyan.
What follows is a long drawn climax with Shekhar fighting for his life in the hospital as Pia and Abhigyan sort their scrambled love lives.
Love does eventually find a way… but not before it meanders through the second half of the film.
Shekhar's seemingly emotional au revoir to the Shah family, Amar's sister's crying in the operation theatre and Abhigyan's crying in his uncle's arms make you cringe.
What adds the much needed emotional play to Pia's character is her confession that she loves Shekhar. Well written and well emoted, that is the highlight of the second half.
Director Anubhav Sinha makes use of his expertise in music videos with some beautifully photographed songs. Even so, the camerawork seems patchy -- breathtaking in parts, especially the picturesque Canada, disappointing in others like the hit and run scene.
Also what stand out are the few silent moments which Anubhav seems good at capturing: When Shekhar bids goodbye to Pia or even when he decides to drown his sorrows in drink or Abhigyan's realisation that Pia loves Shekhar.
What goes for this film is its plausible story. A story that seems to give the newcomers some room to display emotion and scenes that define their characters. The scene between Rakesh and Pia, for example, signifies the turning point where she has decided to move on or even when Shekhar decides to make way for Abhigyan.
Strangely enough, for a T-Series production, the music is not the high note of the film. Barring a number or two, music directors Nikhil-Vinay come up with passable songs which don't quite help the cause of this love story.
The length of the film is another drawback. It would have helped if the second half didn't drag so much. Also some scenes like the Police commissioner forgiving Shekhar for the hit and run accident after flying all the way to Bombay are unrealistic
As Pia, Sandali Sinha portrayes an interesting mix of steel and vulnerability, and delivers a good performance to justify being the central peg of the story. Though her clothes, makeup and voice leave much to be desired.
Priyanshu Chatterjee as Shekhar Malhotra has a meaty role which he does justice to. He delivers a competent performance.
The rest of the cast is okay. Rakesh Bapat has a miniscule role, but makes his presence felt.
Navneet Nishan as Pia's best friend provides a few forced laughs with her over-the-top scenes and costumes.
Rajesh Khera as Priyanshu's friend overdoes the Punjabi character with his booming voice that grates on your nerves. Vikram Gokhale is wasted as Amar's father.
Tum Bin is fairly decent fare especially because of the performances by the three newcomers.
It might not make an impact on the BO with the other films due to release this month.
'Tum Bin is the best thing that has happened to me!': Himanshu Malik
The Tum Bin music review