Producer : Dhirajlal Shah
Director : Gulzar
*ing: Nana Patekar, Sunil Shetty, Tabu, Suhasini Muley, Mohan
Agashe, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Released on : January 22, 1999
Reviewed by: Anish Khanna
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
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!
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
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?