Hum : Ek Hi Hai ‘TIGER’

HUM-PosterDuring the late 80’s , the Amitabh Bachchan mania had begun to decline with most of his films failing at the box office. Even films such as Jaadugar, Toofan etc  made  by his most trusted directors such as Prakash Mehra, Manmohan Desai were an embarrassment to Big B’s filmography. Much like his peers such as Dharamendra, Shatrughan Sinha , Amitabh also followed the trend and was a part of many a torturous flicks in the 80’s. Something that was definitely not suited for  the Big B.

Bad films notwithstanding , Amitabh was always a star and way above his contemporaries.All he needed was a smart makeover and a change of image. If there was one person who understood the aura, charisma and the star power of  Bachchan very well and gave Amitabh the much needed smart makeover , it was  the late Mukul Anand. In  the 80’s with his films such as Insaaf, Aitbaar, Sultanat etc , Mukul Anand had very well established himself as a director who made masala films that were technically slick and a league above the work of many of his counterparts.

Perhaps discouraged by the failure of Agneepath , Mukul Anand decided to make a masala film with a vengeance with Bachchan and the result was Hum. Right from the mega starcast to the Jumma Chumma song , there was a huge hype about the film and the film lives up to the promise of being a super entertainer.

The film tells the story of Tiger an everyday hero who works as a bonded labourer in the docks of Mumbai for Bakhtawar ( Danny Denzongpa ) who is a feudal lord of sorts and revolts against him. This results in the killing of his best friend, father & step mother . In typical Hindi film fashion,  his dying stepmother takes an oath  from him to take away his step-brothers from the dark alleys of Mumbai’s docks and lead a better life. Even his ladylove (Kimi Katkar) tells him that its better for them not to stay together so that Tiger’s  love for his brothers remains undivided .Following this, Tiger becomes Shekhar and resides in Ooty with his brothers growing up to become Govinda & Rajinikanth,  making up for a picture perfect  family. All is fine , till Bakhtawar resurfaces from jail and it is time for Shekhar to become Tiger again , before the past is buried forever.

One of the biggest strengths of the film is the way Tiger’s character  has been conceived and created. Tiger’s character is much similar to AB’s iconic angry young man persona depicted in his classics such as Deewar,Trishul etc. An everyday man who crusades against the evil-doers of the society. The one who is ready to sacrifice his life for his near and dear ones. An individual who is ready to sacrifice even his ladylove for the sake of his brothers.A person willing to leave behind his dark past and start life afresh for the sake of his brothers. However , if the situation persists he wouldn’t mind going to back to his old self to save his dear ones. It is this kind of characterization that has always worked in favour of Bachchan’s films and same is the case with HUM.

You get your much awaited paisa vasool moment when the signature tune of Tiger’s character starts playing and you see Tiger shaking his head furiously sideways and running in slo-mo. Knowing that age was catching up with the original angry young man of Bollywood,  Mukul Anand & his team of writers (Ravi Kapoor, Mohan Kaul) add a unique facet to the character of Tiger-that of depicting Tiger as Shekhar in the second half as a reformed and mild mannered person. A lovable family man who is living an ideal life with his  step brothers Vijay (Govinda),Kumar (Rajinikanth) , Kumar’s wife (Deepa Sahi) and their annoying little daughter. It is this dimension that makes the movie different from other Bachchan potboilers of the 80’s and 90’s.The contrast between the characters of Tiger and Shekhar is also shown very nicely. While Tiger is ready to fight at the drop of a hat, Shekhar is someone who consciously stays away from brawls , much to the chagrin of his brothers.  However, Mukul Anand does not entirely forget Tiger’s character and makes him re-enter the movie rightly towards the end for an action packed finale.  The transformation of Tiger into Shekhar is done so swiftly and nicely, that the audience does not even mind seeing Amitabh sport glasses and a hairstyle with streaks of grey.

Kudos to Mukul Anand and his team for taking adequate care to flesh out most of the characters and not neglecting them in the process of elevating the central character as it is normally observed these days.  It is not easy  to do justice to all the characters in a multistarrer where is the focus is on  the larger than life persona of  a superstar.The characters of  Danny, Anupam Kher , Rajinikanth, Govinda and others have been well etched out thereby ensuring every character gets his moment of glory.

As in Agneepath, Danny and Amitabh once again are very well pitted opposite each other as protagonists and antagonists respectively.  Their confrontation sequences are very well handled and explosive to say the least. The contrast in Bakhtawar’s character is shown very nicely. While Bakhtawar is shown as a feudal lord having no concern for his labourers, on the other hand, he is also shown to have much concern for his own family.

The volteface done by Anupam Kher and Annu Kapoor is also superb and catches the viewer unaware. However I must admit that as the film progresses, their characters lose some of the menace, displayed superbly in the Babizzee scene.

As a director  Mukul Anand was rightly considered as a visionary . His films were always lavishly mounted , slickly edited and directed with a grandeur for storytelling that was rare to find.At his heart he was a pucca commercial director, but his technical flair and lavish vision put him in a league of his own. His directorial stamp is visible throughout the film.Especially in the scenes shot around the Bombay dockyard that rightly depict the gritty and claustrophobic atmosphere of the dockyards.Very few directors are adept at directing scenes that involve huge crowds. The scene in the second half when Tiger reunites with Jumma  during a film shoot amidst a hordes of people,Captain Attack and his cronies(who are out there to kill Bachchan) brilliantly demonstrates this. The way the scene is shot is nothing less than extraordinary.

Mukul Anand not only managed to get Bachchan, Rajinikanth & Govinda in the same frame but also made sure that besides Amitabh, even Rajini & Govinda got their moments of glory. The chemistry between Govinda and Rajini is superb. Especially in the fight scene in the disco, where they fight to the tune of the Batman theme song which is so much to fun to watch. Amitabh & Rajini  share a splendid chemistry and complement each other very well throughout the movie. The scene in which Rajini confronts Amitabh after discovering the truth about Tiger is effectively handled, steering clear of melodrama.Few years later Rajini starred in Baasha which was a very well made revamped version of Hum and was responsible for making Rajinikanth immortal amongst his fans.

It is hard to imagine anyone being cast in the lead role apart from Amitabh Bachchan. The anger, aggression,swagger,flamboyance of the character is very well brought out by Amitabh.The first hour especially sees Bachchan and his Angry Young Man in golden glory much to the delight of the audience. Whenever one sees Bachchan roaring with anger and furiously shaking his head sideways to the signature tune of his character , one cant help but feel excited and cheer for him. Similarly as Shekhar , he underplays his role very beautifully. There are very nice subtle references made to his past in the scene when Govinda asks him mockingly ‘Bhaiyya aapne kabhi kisi ko laat, ghussa ya punch maara hai?‘ and you see Bachchan smiling and remembering his younger days. You know it is time for Tiger to re-emerge when an aam aadmi passes lewd comments about his sister in law despite Bachchan’s humble request to the person to not say so. This was perhaps the last memorable role of Amitabh Bachchan in the 90’s before his re-emergence with Kaun Banega Crorepati in 2000.

As the leading lady , Kimi Katkar exudes a lot of oomph and delivers what can be called as her career best performance. She became a permanent memory of Hindi cinema thanks to the Jumma Chumma song . The song still remains one of the best shot and choreographed songs in Indian cinema.After Agneepath , Danny shines yet again in the role of  Bakhtawar. From a ruthless feudal lord to a to an ex-convict with only  revenge in his mind, the transformation of Danny’s character is done very well.

Anupam Kher is spot on with his Haryanvi accent in one of his most memorable roles ever. He is well complemented by Annu Kapoor  and they share a great chemistry with each other. Kadar Khan, Deepa Sahi and the rest of the cast also do well in their roles.

W.B Rao’s cinematography captures the huge canvas and the scale of the film very well. The scenes shot in the Bombay dockyard  deserve a separate mention. R. Verman’s art work is also spellbinding.Ravi Dewan’s action sequences are first rate especially the  final confrontation between Tiger and Bakhtawar before Tiger becomes Shekhar and the climax.A special mention about Kadar Khan’s dialogues which are appropriate with lines that reflect his trademark style such as “Makkari ki mitti se janam lene wale gaddari ke paudhe”.Besides, Jumma Chumma , Laxmikant Pyarelal deliver other good songs such as ‘Sanam mere sanam’, ‘Kaagaz Kalam Dawatla’ though they are not as memorable as ‘Jumma Chumma’ The tile track is also good, but becomes an irritant in the film as the characters are singing the song at regular intervals in all situations as it works for them as a much needed power booster.

Mukul Anand’s death has was of the biggest losses to the Hindi film industry. Though his films were far from perfect, still his technical flair was hard to match. Which explains why Dus which was  his last film before his death still remains incomplete. A lot of directors such tried completing the film as a tribute to him, but felt they could not match his vision and do justice to the film.With the remake of Agneepath becoming a hit , I hope no director hits upon the idea of remaking Hum.

Even after two decades , Hum still looks a very slick product and remains one of the best quintessential masala Hindi movies ever made.The kind of movie which you can watch multiple times and be assured of a good time always. Today filmmaker’s in Bollywood  who proclaim every  film of their to be a mass masala entertainer can still take lessons from Hum, to know how a masala film can be made with panache.


  1. Souvik Gupta says:

    i like the write up a lot.. but as far as the film is concerned, i think (and for this many people might want to kill me), Hum and Agneepath are extremely over-rated films.. i have never been wow-ed by either except for a few standalone scenes in both.. yes, the movies definitely breathed in life to AB’s career, but i feel a lot of the success for both films is because of AB’s star value and larger-than-life portrayal… but, very nice post nevertheless…


    1.  Souvik thanks once again for your appreciation. I know that you are not very fond of Hum & Agneepath :). Which is very much understandable coz everyone has their own preferences. Nothing to be ashamed about. Storywise these two films are nothing more than pure masala and nothing much different from many of AB’s earlier potboilers. But Mukul Anand’s execution which was very stylish and the dialogues makes these films a notch above many AB starrers of the late 80’s and 90’s.


  2. Akash kaushik says:

    Wow… nostalgic kar diya in the morning… “signature tune of Tiger’s character starts playing and you see Tiger shaking his head furiously sideways and running in slo-mo” and more so his head shaking at bus stand…:)


    1. Thanks a lot Aakash for your generous feedback and praise. Tiger’s entry scene still gives me an adrenaline rush.


  3. Prashant says:

    nicely written !!!

    for me the most memorable scene was the tiger getting drunk and explaining his friend about two types of cockroaches in the world…


    1. Thanks a lot Prashant for taking out time to read the article and for your genuine appreciation.The Cockroach scene is yes memorable mainly thanks to the dialogues.No offence meant but Personally for me , that scene got a bit annoying over the years mainly due to a having seen a repetition of AB’s drunk act in many a films.
      Thanks once again Prashant and do keep visiting the site. 


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