Saturday, February 12, 2011


We all have grown up to Movies haven't we? For every phase of life we have one or more Movies associated and tagged. I mentioned about some of them being "reference point movies" in one of my earlier posts.

Here's another reference point movie for me personally..

Deewar : I am picking Deewar over Sholay for a reason, which I will get to in a moment. Sholay is the movie for obvious reasons and I don't even want to spend a second, explaining it. Sholay is, what it is. A Classic.

Personally I am picking Deewar though, because when I saw it for the first time on a VCR - I may be in my high school or college, I don't remember exactly - I felt something 'real'. I felt a connection. The impact Deewar had was probably more due to my age at that time. You are usually at your rebellious best around college time, I would think. And Deewar which romanticised rebellion like never before, just hit the bulls eye.

The intense dialogs of Salim-Javed, the story about the elder brother who's wronged since his childhood, his confidence at dealing with the Mafia, clash of principles, all hit it home for me. It was surreal at that age. I almost felt the same connection when reading the story of Mahabharat's Karna in Amar Chitra Katha some years before that as a kid ...

(On a different note : I hope to write at some point in more details about Mahabharat, which I feel is the best story ever told)

I read somewhere that Salim-Javed did in fact have the character of Karna in mind when they wrote Deewar. The famous Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor clash, is almost parallel to a similar clash b/w Karna and Arjun, figuratively speaking.

What a moment that is in the movie. Vijay is trying to make a case for himself. He knows he is wrong, but the rage that has built up over all these years within him has taken over all the virtues. He is viewing success materialistically. Now he is a classic anti-Hero, who doesn't care for "right vs wrong". He has shown his middle finger to a system that suffocated him all these years. But at the same time, he needs validation from his younger brother and more importantly his Mother. He seeks from them an approval, even at times using the guilt-trip mechanism by mentioning the sufferings of the past. Their poverty, the people who made them miserable, suggesting that all is justified if you are so wronged.

I like what Nirupa Roy says to Bachchan."Apne Ma ko Khareedne ki koshish mut kar beta. Abhi tu itna amir nahi hua hai" (Don't try to buy your Mom. You are not as rich, just yet).

That was stellar. Dialogs of course are Deewar's high points. I mean, come on, do they even come close to what Salim-Javed wrote 35 years back?

There are some other incidents/scenes from that movie that got my attention, that are not so talked about in general.

I remember the one where the Mafia leader, played by Iftikar Ahmed (go figure), is slowly following Vijay in his car at the dockyard. Vijay is walking like a King really, in a blue coolie get up, confident from his last night's fight with Peter. Ahmed asks Bachchan to sit in his car. The skeptical Vijay looks around not knowing who this guy is.. but he doesn't fear no one.. The conversation goes something like this..

"Ghabrao mut. Mujhe apna dost samjho"
And the Mr.Baritone himself goes : Doston kay naam bhi hotein hai.

No kidding!

His eyes intense as ever. His voice - mashallah. His walk, his style, his body language, the way he sits and his unassuming demeanor..I think we are talking Awesomness here..

The other scene I like is the one where Vijay is sitting across the glass table with rival gangster Samant (Madan Puri). Vijay is waiting for the 'sona' to reach godown and take his cut from the deal (the deal is a trap basically that Samant doesn't know). Vijay is smoking in style as both wait for the phone call. Once they have confirmation, Samant, instead of taking out the cash, takes out a revolver and says - what if he doesn't give Vijay his share. And Vijay dozes of his cigarette and coolly gets up from his chair and tells Samant - "Bachpan mein meiney ek kahani suni thee..." (I had heard a story in childhood) And then he goes on and pitches the "Hen with Golden Eggs" story to Samant, implying if Samant kills Vijay, he looses all the future insider info.

Impressed by his wit and demeanor, Samant says - "Mein mazak kar raha tha.." And Vijay with a signature half-smile says - "Mein janta hu aap mazak kar rahe thhe".

There's another scene that stuck with me. Vijay reaches the shamshan ghat to give agnee to his dead father. It's almost evening, and every one's in white. The color contrast in that scene is stark. Shashi Kapoor is hugging the crying Nirupa Roy tightly, when Vijay comes out of his car. He lights the pyre. His white long sleeves shifts behind and you can read - "Mera baap chor hai" on his arms. He reaches out to his mom, but she refuses to hug him and goes closer to Ravi instead.

I should take a moment to talk about another character of the movie that people seem to not talk much about. That character is of Parveen Babi's. I like the inter-play between Bchchan's and Babi's character. She has a very small part. She was probably not established then. But there are certain scenes I thought she pulled off pretty well. I think Yash Chopra should be credited to make this vampish-but-not-really-vampish role to count for something. In fact all small characters have some relevance in the movie. Even the old muslim co-worker of Vijay in dockyard who gives him the famous badge "billa # 786", which later saves Vijay from few fatal attempts on his life ..(Again very similar to how Karna is saved multiple times because of his Kavach Kundal and finally he dies like Vijay when he looses his protection..[no pun intended]), has a role we can still remember.

Coming back to Babi. She plays the love interest of Vijay. In 1975, Chopra shows them having a physical relationship outside marriage, pushing that envelope a wee bit and shows that nice vulnerable moment that Babi has, where she tries to go "mainstream" or of being "accepted" by the society. And then just when she's tragically killed.

The long white van that Vijay uses probably became iconic after this movie and was used my many 70s and 80s movies later. There's the scene where he is waiting in his van at a distance from the hospital where his ailing mother is being treated. Vijay himself cannot go to meet her as Shashi Kapoor has the police force spread out to have Bachchan. When Anita (Babi's character) tells Vijay there's little hope for his Mom, Vijay takes the van to the temple and then starts the epic scene of him talking to Lord Shiva. That was epic. The always in control, mafia hotboy has a super emotionally soft moment. He just cannot take it anymore and gives in.

There are couple of good songs in there by RD Burman. Although the movie is really about Salim-Javed's screenplay and dialogues, Amitabh's intensity and Yash Chopra's handling of a subject tied to a very Socialistic India of that era. The era of suffocating and frustrating economic opportunities, where a 10 year old boy could get shot for trying to steal a loaf of bread. (There's a scene where Shashi Kapoor, the police officer, shoots a small boy who is running away with Bread. That's a coming of age moment for him personally in the movie). And where if you had to go up the food chain, the avenues were limited and poverty could easily drive you on the wrong side of the law. ("yeh duniya ek third class ka dibba bun gaye hai. mein bhait jata. tum khade rehe jate")

I think Deewar is very reflective of it's time. This is not to say that all young men in the country were angry. And were picking guns and smuggling gold from Dubai via Versova beach. But Socialism has it's issues and there was an angry period in the middle class India. In that sense Deewar is a very era-conscious movie for me.

Deewar is iconic in the realms of Hindi Cinema and I think this is the movie which ultimately sealed the deal for Mr. Bachchan as far as his standing in the Industry is concerned. A phenomenon that India Today magazine would later call - "One Man Industry"

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