Humraaz Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2002 | Crime, Thriller
Jun 26, 2002 By Subhash K. Jha

Alfred Hitchcock-remixed is how director duo Abbas-Mustan's Humraaz can be summed up.

Andrew Davis's A Perfect Murder is a remake of Hitchcock's classic Dial M For Murder about a husband who hires a man to bump off his wife.

Now Abbas-Mustan, known for making slick thrillers, try their hands at the classic murder tale.

While the Hollywood films were about greed and other sleazy motives, Abbas-Mustan add a dash of Indian values to the original and make the wife, initially in collusion with her lover, begin to grow conscious of her spousal duties.

This is where the film begins to resemble Raghunath Jhalani's 1978 marital drama Badalte Rishte where Reena Roy married Jeetendra for his riches but soon gave up lover Rishi Kapoor for the comforts of married life.

Humraaz is like a well-choreographed tango where every character plays a role on more than one level.

When actress Amisha Patel, playing a member of a modern dance troupe, is complimented by the tycoon (Bobby Deol) for an effortless performance she laughs, "What's a performance worth if it doesn't look natural?"

The three stars Bobby, Amisha and Akshaye Khanna remain locked in a triangular tussle to the end and come up with enticing double-layered performances.

Though most of Abbas-Mustan's thrillers are derived from Hollywood - Daraar was Sleeping With The Enemy remade and Baazigar was Kiss Before Dying - they take the foreign idea and mould it to a great degree to suit Indian conditions.

A well-constructed thriller about tycoon Raj Singhania (Bobby) who discovers his wife has been cheating on him, Humraaz at its heart is a morality tale about what pits of avarice people can fall into in today's age of materialism.

The characters of the acquisitive choreographer-dancer Karan (Akshaye) and his girlfriend Priya (Amisha) can be sourced to Abbas-Mustan's last film Ajnabee where Akshay Kumar and Bipasha Basu create havoc in a man's life for money.

In Humraaz, Akshaye and Amisha want to get rich quick. Enter the tycoon, who goes moony when he sees Amisha on his cruiser where titanic emotions unravel.

The best thing about Abbas-Mustan's films is the editing. Abbas-Mustan's sibling Hussain Burmanwala cuts sequences in Humraaz with a surgeon's precision. In the climax, where a masked killer attacks Amisha at home as the husband (Bobby) seethes in his pained vindication at work, is so well done that even Hitchcock would have approved.

But like many Hindi suspense films, Humraaz negates its own riveting rhythm in pursuit of a conventional climax where the goody Bobby beats up scummy Akskaye. The excessive violence shows the directors' weakness for blood and gore to drive in a point in every way possible.

The duo's enduring fondness for Johnny Lever's brand of comedy gets in the way of the narration.

One ironic scene has Akshaye make an underhand deal with Bobby while watching the popular soap Kyukii... Saas Bhi Bahu Thhi - creating a delightful contrast between crime and domestic bliss of the serial.

Bobby, who smiles as he listens on his mobile the screams of his wife as an intruder hired by him attacks her, provides the darkest humour.

The actor tries to blend suave eroticism of Robert Redford in Indecent Proposal with Ajay Devgan's martyred husband's role in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in his take on the tycoon.

Amisha tries hard to infuse passion in her complex role but fails to fight her character's battle beyond the war paint.

The film's triumph is Akshaye. As the first leading man to play an out-and-out villain, he jumps into his diabolism with relish. He plays Karan as a symptom of today's materialistic impulses.

The things he does with his face, for example in the wedding-party sequence where Bobby tells his wife about his love, go a long way in making Humraaz a special thriller.

Subhash K. Jha