indian cinema heritage foundation

Hulchul (1971)

  • Release Date1971
  • GenreThriller, Comedy
  • FormatColour
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time149 min
  • Length4525.98 meters
  • Number of Reels17 reels
  • Gauge35mm
  • Censor RatingU
  • Censor Certificate Number63457-Mumbai
  • Certificate Date18/06/1971
  • Shooting LocationR.K. Studios, Bombay

Peter is a construction worker engaged in doing repair work on a bridge. One night when he is taking his dinner break he overhears a couple speaking on the bridge. The man is heard telling the woman that he will soon murder his wife and make her Mrs Mahesh Jetley. The two drive away before Peter is able to see who they are. He attempts to tell a passing police officer what he heard, but he is told to report it at the police station instead. Peter knows that going to the police station can cause immense harassment to himself and his girlfriend. Instead he strikes up the idea to call Mahesh Jetley’s wife and divulge the plan to her. But upon perusing the telephone directory he discovers there are three Mahesh Jetleys. He decides to call all three, thinking that one of them will reach the right person. 
The first Mrs Mahesh Jetley is Laxmi who is a dutiful housewife. She discovers a picture of her husband’s secretary Leena in his wallet. When she receives the phone call, seeds of suspicion are planted in her mind. The suspicion turns to near conviction when she visits a nightclub to see her husband dancing vigorously with Leena. The second Mrs Mahesh Jetley is the disabled Padma who is married to a doctor. After the phone call, a distraught Padma watches her husband working with his assistant in the laboratory. She watches him kill a rabbit with a deadly injection which strengthens her suspicion. The third Mrs Jetley turns out to be a famous actress Seema. The phone call makes Seema remember all the times she has seen Mahesh speaking to other women. She becomes afraid when Mahesh tries to mix some unknown substance in her coffee claiming it to be saccharine. All three households are soon embroiled in tension and suspicion as a result of Peter’s phone call.
Peter lives with his dancer girlfriend Kitty and her mother Philomena. Unable to rest in peace after the phone calls, he tries to follow up on the three couples to figure out who exactly is the murderer. His involvement in their lives continues to cause trouble for all three couples. The suffering Laxmi believes it is her fault for not being able to conceive a child and resigns herself to her husband’s will. Padma refuses to take anything offered by her husband and lives in constant paranoia. Seema confides in her friend – a filmmaker called Kumar. Kumar assigns a private detective to investigate Mahesh and find out his true intentions. Mahesh, on the other hand, suspects that Seema is having an affair with Kumar and lets his jealousy dictate all his actions. 
After a while Peter is unable to keep the secret to himself and reveals everything to Kitty. Together the two decide to test the three husbands to find out who is the true prospective murderer. Laxmi and Padma’s husbands pass the test and are revealed to have no intentions of killing their wives. But the web of intrigue has taken such hold over Seema’s life that no such simple resolution is possible. Peter disguises himself as a contract killer to meet her husband Mahesh in order to make him confess. Mahesh seems to agree to the contract and agrees to meet him after the completion of the task. In Padma’s household everything is revealed and Dr Mahesh becomes aware of the curious circumstances that led Padma to suspect him. The hapless Laxmi attempts to commit suicide to her husband’s great distress. Dr Mahesh is called upon to save her. After bringing her back to consciousness, they learn that the same man had called her. They try to warn Seema’s husband of the same, but by then a lot has happened. Seema has disappeared and Mahesh has been seen chasing her with a gun in his hand. The three Mahesh Jetleys inform the police of these bizarre circumstances. Peter, who is oblivious to all of this, still pretends to be the contract killer hired to kill Seema and is caught by the police.
During the trial, both Peter and Seema’s husband are suspects for Seema’s apparent murder. In the course of the proceedings, the strange twist is revealed which finally unties the knots. The truth is finally revealed and the real culprit is given their just desserts. 
This film marked the debut of actors Kabir Bedi and the iconic Zeenat Aman.