It is pitched as a sex comedy. But it offers neither. Hello Darling, directed by debutant Manoj Tiwari, is the kind of film that is a veritable test of the viewer's patience.
There are films that are overly pretentious and put too much pressure on one's powers of comprehension. And then are those that are completely brainless and make no demands at all on the moviegoer's faculties. Hello Darling is a 'rare', indescribable concoction: it is at once mindless and pretentious.
Surprised? Well, don't be! It is just that the screenwriters and the director of this low-IQ mish-mash of utterly unfunny gags simply wouldn't have known better.
Despite exposing its real intentions pretty early on, Hello Darling, alarmingly, also wants to be regarded as a film about gender politics and sexual harrassment in the workplace. It alludes to women power and all that, but without making any sense.
Eventually, this film is neither fish nor fowl. What do you expect from a battle of the sexes comedy in which a male character tells a woman that he hits upon: "I will protect you like a condom." It is the paying public that needs protection here.
The vice-president of a Mumbai fashion house, Harddick (don't let the spelling bother you, the name is pronounced H-a-r-d-i-k, with a soft 'd') Vasu, simply cannot keep his paws off the girls who work under him.
The libidinous gentleman (Javed Jaffrey) has designs on three of his female subordinates in particular: Lucknow girl Mansi Joshi (Gul Panaag), the company's workaholic creative head; Haryanvi babe Satywati Chaudhary (Eesha Koppikkar), a non-nonsense fresh-off-the-train newbie; and a miniskirt-wearing Sandra from Bandra, Candy Fernandes (Celina Jaitley).
Even as the incorrigible womaniser's advances have them running scared, the trio devises ways to keep warding off the threats that the lustful monster poses. One of their plans to teach the boss a lesson backfires and lands them in big trouble.
Harddick's Gujju wife (Divya Datta) is, needless to say, a neglected woman who pines in vain for her hubddy's attention. Pushed to the wall, she turns to a mafia-style NGO run by a feisty woman (Seema Biswas in a completely wasted appearance) to give her husband some shock treatment.
The Pati Sudhar Samiti guys pick up the wrong man ? an Elvis Presley wannabe (Chunkey Pandey), who happens to be Candy's live-in boyfriend. And the three women add to the confusion by laying a booby-trap for Harddick in Mansi's pad.
The rest of the film is exactly what all this sounds like ? pure bunkum.
There is plenty of skin show in Hello Darling from the cleavage-flashing leading ladies, but for the exception of Eesha Koppikkar, who makes a commendably game effort to get the Haryanvi lingo right without ever quite making it, and, to a lesser extent, Divya Datta as frumpy wife, none of the actresses on show make an impression. They are meant to be saucy, sultry and smouldering -- all that they end up being is silly.
Does Hello Darling have any saving grace? Banish the thought. Even the usually entertaining Javed Jaffrey is reduced to a drab drone.
Hello Darling is spectacularly hollow ? it is screen comedy's equivalent of hell. Go there only if you are a sucker for self-flagellation.