Starring Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji in lead roles, Hum Tum was a film that was ahead of its time. And how could we forget the adorable comics that we caught glimpses of in between the film, that were so popular. I remember owning this film on DVD back in 2004, but now 17 years later, I appreciate the film more than I ever did as a teen.
Because the highlight of the film, was actually the growth of Saif's character, Karan. Karan was introduced to us as a spoilt rich kid who takes advantage of his privilege and is a man-child waiting to be called out. And yet by the end of the movie, he grows on you because he consciously makes an effort to be better.
In the first meeting, he is rude and obnoxious and kisses her without consent - which earns him a tight slap from Rhea. And you hate him, because you're supposed to. He is charming but horrible as a person, a fact that is established in the first 30 minutes of this film.
And when they meet again, 3 years later, you see a different Karan. He's a man-child now with a finesse for one-night stands and fleeting relationships. But he is finally capable of decent conversations and knows how to take criticism without throwing a tantrum. And Rhea, being the bold and independent person she is constantly puts him in his place.
We also get a chance to see a wishful Karan at Rhea's wedding, maybe hoping he had done better, or was better. Because this was their 'the end'.
But what really changes the narratives is when these two meet in Paris, after the death of Rhea's husband. Karan's clothes are different, he is much more sombre and spends 10 minutes trying to figure out how to talk to Rhea about Sameer without hurting her feelings, a huge step up for him.
And this is the Karan that wins you over completely. He is sweet, understanding, and sings songs in the park with kids to make Rhea feel better.
Slowly you begin rooting for this unlikely couple. But despite Karan and Rhea discussing life and love in the middle of the night and bonding as adults, they don't seem to understand what their relationship has grown into. Especially Karan, who even tries to set Rhea up with Mihir, a plot twist that makes you hate him but you also understand it. Because he honestly held Rhea in such a high regard, that he never thought that she would go for someone like him. Someone whom she has seen grown into a good man, but who has had his own flaws.
As the two drift apart again, and Karan despite following her to Paris can't find her, you begin to empathise with him, especially after you see him crying in the car while chasing her.
His growth from an aimless lost young adult to a successful and accomplished comic artist is so well portrayed.
Now raising a man-child in something many films have tried. From Wake Up Sid to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, but not all have embraced their flawed characters and given them a chance to bloom the way Hum Tum did.