When Mad Momma proposes a motion, the entire blogosphere takes sides. And when the topic is the hottest movie of the 1990s, it is like Yuvraj against Chris Broad - mayhem!
Hum released on 1st February 1991 across 400+ screens across the country. For teenagers who don't get surprised at Singh is Kinng's 800 screens would do well to understand that 400 screens = 400 theatres of 1000+ seats each and not 80 piddly multiplexes of 5 screens each.
To the best of my memory, Hum was the first Bollywood movie to have tremendous pre-release publicity and hype.
About a year before its release, the 'item song' - Jumma Chumma De De - was previewed at a Filmfare awards telecast on TV. And since then, India could not talk of anything else. The budget. The pairing (a nearing-50 Amitabh with nearing-25 Kimi Katkar). The tune of the Jumma Chumma song being lifted from an English (a guy called Mory Kante or some such) number. Bappi Lahiri lifting the same tune for another film (Thanedaar) around the same time. Etc etc.
But these are not the reasons I like the film, actually love the film.
* It had Amitabh's best entry in years.
A union leader - known only by his surname, Gonsalves (producer Romesh Sharma) - tries to rise against Bhaktawar (main villain, Danny) but is hung from a chain and about to be dropped into an acid vat. As the pulley gradually unfurls and he goes down with a martyr-ish look on his face, a man runs over and manages to latch on to the chain that suspends him. I remember screaming and jumping up (along with the rest of the hall) on to my seat. The man proceeded to pull out a bottle of rum, open the cap with his teeth and take a swig. Then he fought off the army of goons, all the while hanging on to the chain. Stupendous!
* It had Rajnikanth and Govinda in delightfully comical action roles.
As Amitabh's two younger (step) brothers - the police-officer and the college loafer - they provided perfect foil to Amitabh's old-worldly stardom by doing all sorts of crazy stuff. Effortlessly. In the most famous scene, Rajni says, "Bey-te lal, yek se bhale do aur do se bhale teen..." as he and Govinda beat up an army of goons led by one Captain Zatack (whose signature line was 'mere paison pe attack?' - yes, I am coming to that!) to the tune of a Batman soundtrack.
In fact, I first realised Govinda's star power when in a particular scene, the hall lustily cheered one of his dialogues. Somebody else being cheered in an Amitabh film was a definite first for me.
* It had a whole army of villains. Literally.
There was Danny, who was the first villain. He ruled a dockyard with the help of his red-kerchiefed army, led by Pratap (Amitabh's father, played by Deepak Shirke).
He was double-crossed by corrupt police officer, Anupam Kher. After Anupam burned Danny's family alive, Danny became bit of a tragic villain.
Famous dialogue: Iss duniya mein teen tareeke ke log hote hain. Dusro ke upar zulm karne wala Atyassaari. (Shot of Danny, running away.) Uske zulm ke khilaf awaaz uthane wala Krantikaari. (Shot of Amitabh, chasing Danny.) Aur in dono ke jung ka faida uthane wala - mere jaisa - Vyappaari!
There was the aforementioned Captain Zatack (and his band of merry men), who were corrupt officers of the Indian army and were trying to get kickbacks by buying battle tanks.
In the massive climax, Amitabh, Rajni and Govinda fought off all these guys in a battle involving tanks, helicopters (Amitabh hanging from it), bazookas and blood-curdling cries.
* It had millions of sub-plots.
Amitabh and Kimi's unrequited love story. Amitabh's sacrifice to bring up his step-brothers. Govinda's love story with Shilpa Shirodkar, in the face of her General father's (Kader Khan) opposition. Anupam Kher trying to sell shady tanks to the aforementioned General. A nautanki artiste (Kader Khan in a double role) being brought in to replace the General. Danny trying to take revenge for his dead family, mistakenly believing Amitabh to be responsible.
I must have forgotten the rest!
* It had Amitabh in a drunken scene, after ages.
For several years after the film, I knew the entire monologue involving gandi naali ka keeda and samaj ke gandagi se nikalne wala keeda by heart.
* It had Jumma Chumma De De.
Long before Pappu, we all knew Amitabh can't dance. He had a few quaint steps involving careful placement of hands and feet, which were religiously copied. But in those days, people copied everything of Amitabh.
But in the Jumma song, Amitabh danced like Elvis on Energizer batteries. Kimi Katkar (playing Jummalina Gonsalves) was the object of his osculatory ambitions and she matched him step for step, getting sprayed with beer an screaming her lines in the high-pitched voice of Kavita Krishnamurthy.
And in an even better reprise (Jumma Chumma Le Le), Amitabh and Kimi try to reach each other wading through a sea of people (Jumma had become a film star) to the tune of the song and in the climax, they embrace.
Apart from all of the above, I love the film because I saw it on Day One of release in Priya cinema of Calcutta (I have preserved the ticket to prove it!) - along with some fifteen classmates. We danced. We screamed. We whistled. We cheered. We booed. We laughed. We cried. We embraced each other because it was as if we were part of the same religion.
And at the end of day, we are faster friends because of Hum.