About the story: Munnabhai (Sanjay Dutt), Mumbai’s most powerful and frightened don, has trouble with disloyal Pillai (Ashish Vidyarthi) and Pillai’s brother (Mukesh Rishi) who want to kill him and take up his station. While chasing and bashing up Pillai, Munnabhai meets lovely Komal (Aishwarya Rai) and falls head over heels in love with her – to such an extend that his heart becomes lovesick and he no longer is able to commit any misdeeds. To cure him from this sickness, his buddies Pappu Pager (Satish Kaushik) and Munna Mobile (Annu Kapoor) take him to Doctor Rastogi (Amitabh Bachchan) – without knowing that he is Kumal’s elder brother. And as even Dr Rastogi has no idea that his own sister is Munnabhai’s love object, he actually encourages him to court his ladylove as love is the only remedy against lovesickness. Komal, however, is in love with Raja (Ajay Devgan) who is not exactly the brother-in-law of Dr Rastogi’s dreams, and with Munnabhai in love Raja now is lumbered with an additional problem...
Now let’s first of all clear up a widely spread misunderstanding right from the beginning: Afzal Khan’s and David Dhawan’s Hum Kisise Kum Nahin has nothing to do with the Munnabhai blockbusters later made by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani. That Sanjay Dutt even here plays a don named Munnabhai is a pure coincidence of names. However, in a certain way you could take this bhai, in retrospect, as a preliminary study to Sanjay’s later Munnabhais, yet in any case as a kind of bridge or link between the really criminal and merciless don Raghubhai in Vaastav and the lovable don Munnabhai with the child-like mind Sanjay was to create in Hirani’s movies. In the beginning of Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, he still appears like Raghubhai in person – same outfit (white kurta, expensive gold jewellery), same hair-style and the gun always close at hand –, but from the moment on when he is ailing from his "love-sickness", he destructs this Raghubhai image from scene to scene and starts showing Munna’s soft and lovable sides, but without ever completely losing sight of the don. Thus Sanjay, in spite of the partially massive comedy elements, creates an out and out believable character who – even though he is the "bad guy" and antagonist of the "good people" (Komal, Raja, Rastogi) – from the beginning till the end enjoys the audience’s sympathies. Hardly ever there might have been a love triangle where you so much wish that both men in the end are the lucky one who gets the girl like in this film.
Another bonus point of the story is that it provides four equal leading roles where no one is comdemned to be the only loser. Munnabhai and Raja resp. Rastogi permanently fight each other, and sometimes one of them is victorious, sometimes the other. So the whole plot remains thrilling until the end, all the more as not only Sanjay but even his three co-stars are in a dazzling mood of acting and keep the film’s wit and humour running. Aishwarya is charming and you can very well understand that even a top gangster like Munnabhai gets his brain convolutions knotted just by looking at her so that he only can blankly stare at her and stammer "sorry" (and Sanju’s mimics in these situations – why, you just could kneel down before him!). Ajay presents Raja as an out and out lovable guy even though he also is a mischievous brat who not only plays his cheeky pranks with his prospective brother-in-law but also audaciously challenges Munnabhai. Consequently Munna and Raja dedicatedly fight a running battle, and Sanjay and Ajay really don’t spare each other and show a good chemistry.
But that’s nothing against what Sanjay together with Amitabh conjures on the silver screen. Apart from Reshma Aur Shera, Sanju’s film debut as 12-year-old qawali singer where he didn’t share any screentime with Amitabh, and from Kroadh where Sanju during Amitabh’s guest appearance as himself only was sitting in the audience as the admiring young actor he was at that time, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin was the first time these two great character actors really met on screen, and, with all due respect: It was about time! As actors, Amitabh and Sanjay are singular and play in their own top league, and together they turn out to be a terrific team. Obviously in a merry pin, they show their best skills as actors and comedians, delightfully feeding each other lines and stimulating each other to top performances. For me, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin was the natal hour of one of Hindi cinema’s best film jodis which meanwhile has proved itself in other films too, and I genuinely hope that the future will provide us with more films starring Amitabh and Sanjay.
Hum Kisise Kum Nahin is an out and out entertaining comedy, placing value more on subtle humour and characterisation than on slapstick and shrill gags. That’s the sort of comedy Sanju should play, it’s perfect for his comedy flair. Even though this is not yet that Munnabhai which one year later was to become the role of his life.
Produced by Afzal Khan; Directed by David Dhawan
163 Min.; DVD: Spark, English Subtitles (not for the songs); unfortunately the subtitles sometimes are missing. The Bonus DVD contains the Making Of and T.V. promos.
P.S. This film’s intermission is probably one of the most hilarious in Hindi Cinema’s history: When Dr Rastogi realises that his own sister is the don Munnabhai’s love object, he faints – and Munnabhai and his two buddies amused look down on him and say, cantingly grinning, "Doctor saab – it’s interval time!" *g*