When I look back at pictures of my younger, prettier and thinner self and then look in the mirror at the me of today, I feel the way this film would probably feel if it could look back at Hum Kisise Kum Naheen: the same old thing, but wearier, more bloated and not any smarter or more mature. It is the middle-aged incarnation of HKKN after bad plastic surgery, making it occasionally fascinating in an “I want to look away but can’t” kind of way. Mostly it’s just dull, though, and I might not have bothered to write it up but for my friend and fellow Hindi film music fan PC over at Third Floor Music. He has waited patiently for me to gather the courage to go through this eyesore again for screencaps, and we are doing a tandem music-review post. He has uploaded the RD Burman soundtrack for your delectation, so grab it here and read on!
Wealthy businessman SK Nanda (Shreeram Lagoo) is furious when his oldest son and heir Ramesh (Randhir Kapoor) marries a simple girl named Seema against his wishes.
(Not all prostitutes are poor, either, but that’s another story.)
Nanda kicks Ramesh and his new bride out of the house and his life, and then repents at leisure as the years go by. He instructs his business manager Shekhar (Kader Khan) to search for Ramesh and Seema, and when his younger son Ravi (Rishi Kapoor) returns home from being educated abroad explains to him why Ramesh’s marriage bothered him so.
This second marriage didn’t work out very well because the “poor” girl tortured Nanda Senior (no specifics on how unfortunately), although there was a son from the union: Shekhar. Nanda’s father instructed him on his death bed to take care of Shekhar, which Nanda has—by making him work for him. I am not surprised when we shortly discover that Shekhar resents this.
Meanwhile, his men have come back with news about Ramesh and Seema.
After the accident which claimed their lives, Seema’s sister Kanchan (Padmini Kolhapure) has taken in their eight-year-old son Pappu (Master Ravi) and is bringing him up. Shekhar’s informant is a gangster named Maula, and Shekhar’s man Ranjeet (Viju Khote) describes him as a “mountain of a man”:
This cracks me up: while it might be difficult for me to disguise myself as Hindu or Muslim, it doesn’t seem like any great feat for an Indian man. And speaking of disguises, Shekhar himself is inexplicably wearing one. I thought he had just aged a bit since the Ramesh episode, but he takes it off now, making it clear that he looks exactly the same as he did the nine-odd years before. He only seems to wear this aging disguise in the presence of Nanda and Ravi and no reason for it is ever given. But there are a lot of things in this movie that make no sense, so I surrender to the aesthetic and move on.
Shekhar instructs Maula to find Kanchan and Pappu at once and to take them to Calcutta. Maula himself remains mysterious to us (for now) although all the trappings of evil (black glove? check. Whiskey bottle? check. Film magazines? check. Apples? che—oh, wait…) are there.
Shekhar now murders the husband of a woman named Kavita (Neelam) whom he lusts after, and he promises her that he’ll keep her in diamonds when he gets rid of Ravi, the only remaining obstacle to his inheriting Nanda’s wealth when Nanda (a heart patient, we learn) dies. This murder strikes me as absolutely pointless, but it is amusing even if inadvertently so: Kavita is only vaguely horrified by her husband’s death and Shekhar’s clean-up crew wear color-coordinated-to-their-outfits masks.
Ravi informs his (back in disguise) uncle that he has found a clue to his brother’s whereabouts and is going off to look for him.
Shekhar calls Maula again. Black glove? check. Jack-knife? check. Film magazines? check. Apples?…
He tells Maula to keep an eye on Ravi. In Karsiang, one of Kanchan’s neighbors warns her that some goondas are looking for her and Pappu and they flee in the nick of time. They catch a ride with Rajendranath and this leads to one of the most eye-searing things I have ever witnessed. Rajendranath takes them to his home, which was decorated by someone dropping acid, and does a striptease to the sounds of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” Alas, I could not find it on youtube.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or scream or all three. I mean…just…LOOK. I think the woman in the poster on the left above pretty much sums up my feelings. Kanchan herself can only say: “oh my God.”
I am particularly fond of the little spaniel on the door.
Maula’s men burst in looking for Kanchan and Pappu, who sneak out while the men are temporarily blinded by the scene in front of them.
Ravi meanwhile has arrived in the area and his car is rear-ended by a man wearing a black glove (Amjad Khan).
We are so patently obviously supposed to believe that this is Maula that I am inclined to disbelieve it, despite the fact that by now (1981) Amjad Khan was well-established as a villain extraordinaire. Soon after this encounter, Ravi picks up Kanchan and Pappu from the roadside and offers them a lift to Darjeeling.
Thus thrown together for a night, Ravi and Kanchan are forced to endure Disco Night at a local hotel. Thus far—except for the frightening “Stayin’ Alive” interlude—the film has been music free. But with the introduction now of our lead pair that’s about to change.
We spend much of the next hour with Ravi in amorous pursuit of Kanchan. Long-lost Ramesh is forgotten for the time being. There are more disguises:
another (albeit deceased) Pappu:
and another Kanchan (Simple Kapadia):
[that's Colonel I.M. Tipsee (Om Shivpuri) to be precise].
Plus, more gaudily presented bad songs including a qawwali which I find tolerable although it too seems tired tired tired.
I look forward to seeing what PC has to say about the music. To me it sounds like Bappi Lahiri has taken over Burman’s body (that is not a compliment). I will say that Nasir Hussain spent a lot of money on the song picturizations. The electric bill alone must have run into lakhs of rupees.
When we eventually make our way back to the plot, will Ravi discover that Pappu is his nephew? Will evil Uncle Shekhar eliminate them and Kanchan? Will Kanchan still love Ravi when she finds out that he’s from the same family who mistreated her poor sister Seema so? And who is Maula? Does anybody care?
To find out, watch Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai. Or not. I can’t really recommend it, although I sincerely wish Rajendranath’s “special” appearance were available online. Apart from that, there’s no reason you shouldn’t just watch Hum Kisise Kum Naheen again instead.