Saturday, June 08, 2002

Movie for the evening: HUM(1992)

The second in the Mukul Anand-Amitabh Bachchan trilogy of films that set out to redefine the sagging image of the superstar actor by getting him to mouth lines in his classic baritone in mileux that played every card in the well-worn stack of 'classic Amitabh moments'. The film has it all: the comic Amitabh, the romantic Amitabh, the drunken Amitabh, the angry (old) Amitabh ad nauseum. He won the Filmfare Award in 1992 for this role, ironically after receiving the Raj Kapoor Award for Lifetime Achievement the previous year. The film showcases Mukul Anand's adeptness at framing interesting visual compositions and his play with light, shade and colour. This venture is not as satisfying as the first film in the trilogy, Agneepath (which fetched the Big B a long-awaited ill-deserved National Award), in terms of impact, style, content, and performances. The songs in Hum are a shade more populist than those in Agneepath, which offered fewer avenues for musical relief. The USP of the soundtrack is undoubtedly Jumma Chumma De De, the Laxmikant-Pyarelal lift of Mory Kanté's Yéké Yéké. The song is choreographed and presented with enough energy to merit it superiority to Tamma Tamma from Thaanedaar, Bappi Lahiri's take on the same source. The other songs include the Mauritius jaunt (classic Bollywood escapism again) Sanam Mere Sanam and the title song that overstays its welcome by resurfacing in the most bizarre situations. The film also showcases a double role from Kader Khan. Phew! Classic lines abound:

Pet ki bhook ekta se badi cheez hoti hai (Bhaktawar) and the Girdhari-isms spouted by Anupam Kher like Shanti, shanti. Do minute shanti, uske baad kranti. The film has its moments, but fails to capture the intensity of Agneepath, a far more serious work. Both films provide the Big B with ample moments to exercise his capabilities and he doesn't disappoint. His on-screen aura is undeniable.


* In chronicling the turbulence on the Bombay docks, the film betrays the influence of the Elia Kazan classic On the Waterfront.

* Both Hum and Agneepath overlap on actors: one of them, in particular, is Deepak Shirke, who plays Pratap, first mate to Bhaktawar (Danny Denzonpa) and father of Tiger (Amitabh Bachchan) in Hum and plays Anna, one of the ill-fated four who recruit the young Vijay Dinanath Chavan who grows up (Amitabh Bachchan) to overpower and consume them, in Agneepath. In fact, according to the credits that roll at the end of the latter film say "introducing Deepak Shirke".

* The film dialogue is impeccably Kader Khan: full of rhyming bombast. For example, tank-on ki jaanch and note-on ki aanch.

* Two interesting motifs in the film (not well developed, but blatantly hurled at the viewer) the anchor (that overpowers the little figures of dock workers walking past it in the background) and the irritating title song that functions as the unifying force of the family and as a locator (especially in the final segment of the film)
* Jumma (Kimi Katkar) has become a star and is shooting a song in Ooty when she spots Tiger (Amitabh) and proceeds to burst out into Chumma Le Le, a painfully corny female perspective on the chartbuster Jumma Chumma De De) encouraging Tiger to attempt to get to her through the crowds (ostensibly to stop her from singing any further). The name of the film she is shooting for is Intezar.

* Producer Romesh Sharma cameos as the ill-fated Gonsalves.

Corny moments

* A truly inspired bit of casting: Govinda and Rajnikant are brothers (from Pratap's second wife), the latter betraying his southern accent and stretching the limits of belief. Amitabh plays the elder stepbrother (from Pratap's first wife).

* Rajnikant seems to have been chosen for two things: his cigarette stunt (see below) and the brief exchange in Kannada at the Bangalore bus station in the search for his wife (Deepa Sahi).

* Vijay (Govinda) is involved in an arm wrestling bout to win money so he can get his sister-in-law (Deepa Sahi) a pressure cooker

* At the same discotheque, Kumar (Rajnikant) does his patentable cigarette-toss-into-the-mouth act and then in a similar moment launches a coin into the jukebox adorned by the logo from Batman. This starts off the energetic Batdance off the soundtrack of the film and a bizarre disco/desinatyam/free-for-all-fist-fight sequence choreographed to it. The howlarious sequence ends at the line: "Stop the press ... who's that?" (the answer, if you follow the song, is Vicki Vale)

* In one of the little sequences in the climax, Kumar (Rajnikant) nimbly catches a clutch of dynamite hurled by one of the villainous soldiers and then proceeds to deliver the parcel back with a football kick. Needless to say, the dynamite clutch possesses enough intelligence to choose to go off the moment it hits the enemy.

* In an unexplained bit, Vijay (Govinda) goes flat on his back on the ground, allowing a tank to run over him. He is saved, of course, by the gap between the base of the tank elevated by the wheels and the ground.

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