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hututuL.gif (5283 bytes)

Producer : Dhirajlal Shah
Director :
Gulzar
*ing: Nana Patekar, Sunil Shetty, Tabu, Suhasini Muley, Mohan Agashe, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Music: Vishal

Released on : January 22, 1999


Reviewed by: Anish Khanna
anish@indolink.com


out of 
So, it's the first big weekend of movie releases in India this year, and what could we imagine the directors have to say for themselves?

"Hi. My name is Rishi Kapoor. Although my family name is synonymous with booze and womanizing, I have made a film showing life in America where non- resident Indians have bad personal habits, and every true desi is a pure, simple, and good human being."

"Hi. My name is Satish Kaushik. I also have made a film showing the NRI's as corrupt with poor values, while my country's women are sati-savitri's".

"Hi. My name is Gulzar. I have taken my country and stuck a mirror in its face."

Yes, my friends, while other makers are busy exploiting and stereotyping foreign countries in the name of entertainment, Gulzar has gone on a quest to present the truth about his own with his latest and perhaps most realistic film to date - "Hu Tu Tu". This is a film about today's times made for today's generations. The tone is cynical - almost blatantly sarcastic - but it is the honesty of the film that enables the audience to identify with it immediately.

The story opens with the kidnapping of Panna Barve (Tabu), the daughter of Chief Minister Malti Barve (Suhasini Muley). The responsible gang's demand is that one of their members be released from police custody. While in captivity, Panna reminisces about her childhood, where she had to struggle to grow up with a power hungry and inconsiderate mother and a simple, quiet, and spineless father (Shivaji Satam). Panna's mother had also been carrying on a rather open affair with party co-member Sawantrao Gadre (Dr. Mohan Agashe). Flashback over and Panna soon meets the man behind her kidnapping - Aditya Patel (Sunil Shetty) - who Panna knows from before.

Via flashback #2, we learn that Panna and "Adi" were lovers once upon a time. Their closeness stemmed from the fact that he also was struggling with a corrupt parent in the form of businessman father, P.N. Patel (Kulbhushan Kharbanda). Panna and Adi both find solace in a poor basti with the company of Adi's old teacher Joshi Master and in the philosophy of poet Bhau (Nana Patekar), much to the dismay of the couple's respective parents. Bhau even goes to the extent of becoming Malti's most vociferous opponent. Due to a sudden car accident, however, Adi is presumed dead and Panna loses Adi's out- of-wedlock baby before it can be born. Thus ends flashback #2.

Getting back to the kidnapping, Adi and Panna reunite after quite some time. They talk to each other and piece together the events that have occurred since their separation. Just then, the missing gang member is sent back to Adi. It is none other than Bhau, who is returned to the gang with his brain destroyed by electric shock. News also comes that Joshi master is killed in jail and it is portrayed as a suicide. Panna and Adi then decide what the best form of poetic justice will be for their parents.

Performance-wise, everyone is first rate. It is more than refreshing to see Sunil Shetty give such a restrained performance. I had thought that Sunil had discovered "shouting" and mistook it for "acting", but through this film Sunil proves that he knows the difference. Nana Patekar is typecast (but typecast very well) in his part, and although he is given very little dialogue, Nana still manages to steal every frame he is in. As for Tabu - her acting in this film makes her "Maachis" performance look like child's play. The tomboyish, fowl-mouthed, and profoundly scarred Panna is a much more complex character than Veera (of "Maachis"), and thus allows Tabu to show off much more of her untapped talent. Witness her expression in her last scene of the movie alone, and you will realize that this woman is a genius!

Manmohan Singh's cinematography is simple yet aesthetically pleasing. Vishal's excellent score, however, is somewhat haphazardly strewn over the screenplay so that the flow of the narration feels interrupted at times. Luckily, an actor like Nana Patekar can invest enough into a song to give it the feel and importance of a monologue, and his character would not succeed in any other way, as he has more songs than he does actual dialogue.

A major incident in this film can't help but be compared to a controversial film of last year - "Dil Se". The difference, though, is that everything in "Hu Tu Tu" happens for a reason and makes sense. Gulzar does, however, include some scenes for shock value, including burned bodies and scenes of violence, which seem rather unnecessary. Still, to Gulzar's credit, he doesn't dwell on these scenes. The actual finale, though shocking, is rational and appropriate, thus completing the coherence of the screenplay. This is the coherence that was lacking in "Dil Se".

A great strength of this movie are the issues brought out in the commendable screenplay written by Gulzar with his daughter Meghna. The two suggest that there is an Indian equivalent of the American "Generation X", and that this generation is struggling between the desire to become valuable contributors to society and the corruption and condescending attitudes of their elders. The thought that the whole of Indian society are pawns with the players being the politicians is presented without over-exaggeration of the point. It is suggested, however, that this younger generation has the manpower and mindpower to overcome all of society's negative forces.

The very last scene of the movie is one of the most uplifting and intelligent endings ever. Gulzar suggests that although we have already ruined the world for Generation X, we should focus our efforts into the protection and education of our school children. If we shield them from this corruption, they will become the leaders of tomorrow, and they will run the country the way it should be. If "crossing the line is corruption", why not stop our children before they get a chance to even see that line?

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