“U Me Aur Hum” (You, Me and Us) has a great potential to become a serious look at Alzheimer’s disease and its effect on a relationship. However, the directorial debut of actor Ajay Devgan is uneven and slow.
Bollywood films are usually divided into two parts: pre-intermission and post-intermission. Pre-intermission the film is a light romantic comedy moved along with not-so-melodious music. Psychiatrist Ajay (Ajay Devgan) is on a cruise with friends when he meets waitress Piya (Kajol, Devgan’s wife in real-life). He creates some lies and shenanigans to win her over, and does. But, when she finds out about his lies, they break up. Both go their separate ways off the cruise ship. However, before leaving, Ajay tells Piya that if she changes her mind about their relationship, she can call him and sticks a Post-it note to her dresser mirror.
Six months later, Ajay invites his friends over his house and surprises them with a marriage ceremony to Piya. It seems the film should end here, with a tagline of happily ever after, but it is moved along with the mental breakdown of Piya.
The first hint of her breakdown is shown in the scene when she describes entering a store and how, upon exiting, was unable to remember her way home. In an attempt to ask strangers on the street for help, she also forgets the name of her husband, and his phone number. Of course, Ajay finds her and Piya is taken to a hospital to be evaluated.
Post-intermission is where Devgan should have focused his entire film. Ajay is in denial about his wife’s condition, but comes around when he finds out that she is also pregnant. As Piya’s condition worsens, Ajay tries to adjust their lives to the disease by working less hours and hiring a 24-hour maid to assist Piya with day-to-day occurrences. However, Piya’s condition takes a turn for the worse when she leaves Aman, their baby boy, in the bathtub and forgets that he is there. Aman almost drowns, and this moment in the film is one of the most harrowing 10 minutes of the entire film. It is also pretty graphic.
After this particular episode, Ajay decides to place Piya in a care facility where she will be monitored by a staff. Ajay feels divided about placing Piya under full-time care at a facility, but ultimately feels that his wife is a danger to his child.
The movie ends with Ajay taking Piya home after a heart-to-heart with his friends, and they end up celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on a cruise ship like they planned.
The problem with this film is that it seems that Devgan was torn between making two different films. He wants to make a light romantic comedy, but also a deep evaluation of the toll of illness on a relationship. It is understandable that a setup to the relationship between Ajay and Piya needs to be made, but it does not need to take 45 minutes and three bad songs to do so. If the main focus of the film is supposed to pivot around Piya’s disease, the film could have started with that and doing so would give Devgan more time to find a more nuanced depiction of the relationship between Piya and Ajay, and how both react to her disease.
That said, the foreshadowing of Piya’s Alzheimer’s is subtle and interesting. It is kind of unbelievable though that a 28-year-old woman would have Alzheimer’s, although there are cases in which an early onset of the disease occurs. Another cause for concern is the questionable depiction of Piya’s “episodes.” She seems to regress into her condition very quickly, with little nuance and subtlety given to the progression of the disease.
The very relevant social issue of placing your loved ones in a care facility instead of taking care of them in your own home is brought up in the film. As a psychiatrist, Ajay persuades his patients’ family members to keep them at home even when it is difficult for the family to maintain their own lifestyles. However, when Piya’s condition worsens, he reluctantly agrees to place her in a facility because he himself cannot bear the thought of his child being in danger. He also admits to his friends that his reasons were also selfish, as he didn’t want to spend all of his own time looking after his wife. Eventually ,he brings her home and they basically live happily ever after.
Though “U Me Aur Hum” has the potential to be a nuanced and subtle film about Alzheimer’s disease and its effect on a relationship, director Devgan fails to capture it even though there are enough setups for it. Kajol does a good job with her character but the film is clearly supposed to revolve around Devgan’s character. The writing isn’t too bad (Devgan also wrote the film), and the music is lacking. Eventually, the premise of “U Me Aur Hum “will be picked up by an art film director and be molded into a deep, subtle, nuanced and powerful story about a relationship altered by illness. Until then, we have an uneven directorial debut by Devgan.
Filed Under: A & E