HUM PAANCH-Hindi Movie Review: Mithun Chakraborty, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Deepti Naval

H U M  P A A N C H

Fear Has No Face

Director: Bapu

CAST: Mithun Chakraborty, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Deepti Naval, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Uday Chandra, Gulshan Grover, Amrish Puri, Aruna Irani, Roopesh Kumar, Gita Siddharth, A.K. Hangal, Kanhaiyalal, Sunder
Review by: Dr Usman Latif Khawaja


This eighties movie deals with the age old question of oppression and its consequences as a result of a majority that suffers it indifferently without confrontation and yet when someone raises a voice to oppose it they are initially dubbed as renegades then rebels fighting for a worthy cause.

The movie by all standards is a cry in the wild raised by a women wronged who is deceived and impregnated in love by a local aristocrat in rural India, the milieu is familiar but the treatment differs as the conniving thug is opposed by an unlikely alliance of a varied background played by six characters who represent the various social factions in the Indian social fabric.

The story borrows from Mahabharata, the Holy Scripture written centuries ago but is still viable with the present social and political attitudes rampant in India as it exposes the arrogance and whimsical indifference with which the ruling classes view the working class who for most are easily expendable once they have served their purpose.

This applies to religion as well which is shown being exploited for personal motives rather then a truth they believe in and is symbolically violated when it hampers the powerful from achieving their purpose, as the tyrannical landlord [Amrish Puri] denies his marital vows with an untouchable woman [Shabana Azmi] carrying his child, the stage is set for a drama where a group of people stir a revolt against him which is narrated in this mini epic.

The movie is particularly rewarding as you get to see three spontaneously natural actors together on screen for the first time, Amrish Puri, [the landlord] Sanjeev Kumar as his main opposer, who plays his brother and Mithun Chakraborty as his slave who has been brought up as a his personal henchman and is a silent witness to his misdeeds, but ignores them till the tide turns against him and he is ostracised for asking a small favour of his master.

Amrish Puri is evil incarnate and his portrayal is a textbook picture of an arrogant Indian aristocrat, while Sanjeev Kumar as his anti-nemesis is a symbol for the pure and good though he is shown to drown his indifference with alcohol but as the struggle progresses he assumes a more powerful stature resembling lord Krishna, the saviour from the Mahabharata.
But it is Mithun as the youth who is initially docile as a slave who follows his evil master like pet dog, his innocence and naivety are conveyed by his frankly honest gaze and his shame at his masters deeds is communicated by his body language and expressions, yet the highpoint of the movie comes as his rage erupts like a dormant volcano in a moment which is both memorable as well as a turning point in Hindi cinema where he rebels against his lord, but he plays the sequence with such restraint and grace as no amount of words can express with his fierce look and his tense body expressing his anguish and rage.

This is contrary to all the stereotypes of rebels played in Hindi cinema before and it is a performance to be cherished, but he follows it with some well executed action sequences as well as some tender moments shared with the woman he loves [Deepti Naval]who is the root cause of his rude awakening from his enslaved slumber.

It is definitely a treat to see 3 spontaneous natural talents together with their raw, powerful, natural talents pitted against each other, yet as the young lovers the movie belongs to Mithun and Deepti, nevertheless the rest of the cast is credible with a special mention for Shabana, Naseer and Mr. Babbar, as well as AK Hangal as the local priest who is being used as a pawn in the struggle.

The movie is flawed by a totally unnecessary soundtrack which mars the script and also is very mediocre though the background score is adequate, the dialogues by Rahi Masoom Raza are literary, powerful and natural and imbue the script with a divine richness which is maintained by the subtitles too, the technical aspects are executed well with the culturally rich location of Melkote captured lovingly by the photographer and the direction by Bapu is fairly good.

Yet the movie belongs first and last to the trio of good, evil and the struggle represented by the three great actors at the peak of their dynamic best and is definitely worth a view for their immaculate performances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *