Space, or rather the lack of it in Mumbai, has inspired a spate a films, from Basu Chatterjee's Piya Ka Ghar, in which a newly married couple struggles to find some privacy, to Bhimsain's Gharonda, in which the pressures of buying a flat destroy a young couple's relationship.?
Debutant director Jaideep Varma's Hulla is a contemporary take on the pressure cooker living conditions in Mumbai and how something as trivial as a whistle can unravel lives.
Sushant Singh plays Raj, a share market broker, who moves into a middle-class building in suburban Mumbai.?
The watchman?s shrill night-whistle keeps waking Raj up, although his wife sleeps right through it.?
Raj's protests to the building secretary, Janardan played by Rajat Kapoor, come to nothing and eventually this small problem snowballs into a crisis, which reaches the police station and unhinges two families.?
Varma gives us slice-of-Mumbai-life with its eccentricities, peculiar stresses and dark humor.? In this manic urban treadmill, every one is scrambling to make more money and upgrade their life?buy a better car, a bigger house, move one suburb closer to South Mumbai.?
There are some wonderful, quirky characters like Raj's next-door neighbors whose little daughter is constantly breaking things and Janardan's wife who does meditation with the same aggression that she pursues a two-bedroom flat.?
Varma, who also wrote the film, has wit and insight but the trouble with Hulla is that the characters and conflict aren't energetic or compelling enough to sustain a two-hour film.?
Hulla feels like a television sitcom stretched into a movie.?The screenplay is clunky and beyond a point, you stop caring about Raj?s peculiar predicament. Also, Varma introduces darker subtexts, which disrupt the tone rather than strengthen the narrative.?
Singh and Kapoor are nicely combative but Hulla is threadbare and unlike last year's small budget sleeper hit Bheja Fry, it isn't very satisfying. Venture in if you must.