Chetan Bhagat is a conjurer of pulp fiction. His books are unapologetically low-brow, simplistic and contrived but they are also pacey and entertaining.
Bhagat hooks you with interesting characters and keeps you turning the pages, even as you roll your eyes and groan at the silliness of it all.
I thought it would be difficult, if not impossible, to dumb down a Chetan Bhagat book. But director Atul Agnihotri and Bhagat himself, who co-wrote the screenplay and dialogue, manage it in Hello.
The film is based on Bhagat's second bestseller One Night at the Call Center.
The book has a beautiful and mysterious woman narrating the story to the author on a train. But it's Bollywood.
So, instead we have helicopters and Salman Khan who essentially plays himself - an actor/rock star. Before he listens to the story he performs an item number, which of course includes him taking his shirt off.
The story involves six characters who work at a call centers and how their lives change one night. Each one is grappling with serious personal issues but at the end of the night, all of them have taken charge of their problems and decided to follow their bliss.
In more expert hands, this could have been a fun, popcorn movie but Agnihotri plays it at the level of a cartoon.
The characters aren't given any time to develop and there is absolutely no sense of atmosphere.
The narrative is laced with lame attempts at comedy and one very strange song, which features dancers doing a weird airborne ballet.
The dialogue occasionally shows some spark - at one point, a character describes an NRI as the perfect groom because he is both a Bondhu and ameer but mostly we have to suffer lines like: Aam taur pe gore bewkoof hote hain.
If Hello was more sophisticated, the America bashing would have been offensive but this is too low IQ to matter.
Sharman Joshi plays his part of the loser Shyam with conviction and I enjoyed watching Sohail Khan do another dumb jock type.
But they can't infuse air into this limp film. Hello is tiresome. Read Chetan's book instead.