Deewar [1975]

13 May

Thoughts on a wall on Mother’s Day

Growing up in Bombay as a small kid in the 1970s meant knowing your Sholay [1975] and Deewar. I had allegedly seen Sholay, but I couldn’t remember a single frame of it. It is quite possible that this was again a trick by my siblings to console me since they often went to films without me. After all who would like a eight years younger brother tagging along. I never had a chance to see Deewar. All the same I think I knew all the dialogues of both the films. One just couldn’t escape them. One thing all the same always rankled me that I hadn’t seen Deewar, this fact was remedied by the post on Parveen Babi, where in the comment section, pacifist provided me with the link to the movie (bless her!).

In this post, I will just write down some thoughts to this landmark film and not write much about the story, I think many of my readers know it. If some don’t, Anu has given an excellent (nearly frame to frame) narration of the plot on her blog. Good insight in the film has also been provided by Philip Lutgendorf and at Upperstall. All three articles make good reading.

Possible Spoilers Ahead
Mother India

The most famous dialogue of the film is surely mere paas maa hai. The story also has some similarities to Mother India [1957]. Just like in the monumental film by Mehboob Khan, Salim-Javed the script writers, project Mother India as a mother who would be ready to kill her errant son. They go a step ahead and show her situation in the 1970’s. The ransom photo becomes her image. She is Mother India, who is being held hostage by the rich industrialists, crooks and criminals. The moral leadership has abandoned the ship and is in exile wandering about and the youth represented by Vijay and Ravi are left to fend for themselves. They are caught between the high ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and the lure of fast money.

What/Who is the Deewar (wall)?

The answer seems very simple. The wall separating the two brothers can only be their ways of life, their occupation. I won’t disagree with that. At the same time, I feel that the mother herself is also a wall separating the two brothers. Curiously enough, we hardly see any interaction between them as kids, like in Haath Ki Safai, where the older brother protects his younger sibling. We only notice that Vijay is ready to give up his education so that Ravi can go to school. At this point Vijay takes up the position of the man in the house, which would be a parallel role to the mother and not that of a sibling. It is quite evident, that she loves Vijay more, even before she admits to Ravi. The only role left for him to play between the mother and her favourite son is that of the mediator.
At the same time he is also a wall between Vijay and the mother. Since he incorporates everything, which she would like to see in Vijay. Vijay is a deewar (wall) between Ravi and mother too. That brings us to Ravi and the role he plays in the film.

The film and its story are more sympathetic towards Vijay. They show us his deep wounds, not only the tattoo on his arm declaring meraa baap chor hai (my father is a thief) but also his deep aversion against injustice. The only peek in Ravi’s inner turmoil we get is when their mother lies in the hospital. He admits to his girl-friend Veera (Neetu Singh) that in such times, one doesn’t know what is right and wrong. On the one hand he would like his mother to meet his son and on the other he has to arrest him. Furthermore, he admits his debt towards his elder brother in the words mere in ragon me baap ke khoon ke saath-saath kuchh maa ka dudh aur bhai ka pasina bhi hai (in my veins not only my father’s blood but also my mother’s milk and my brother’s sweat).

Ravi is a reluctant hero. I think he never really wanted to play the valiant hero he ends up playing. We see him acting as a mediator between the mother and her favourite son. Like in the scene after the big show down between Samant’s men (0:51:17) and Vijay or when Vijay declines to eat the prasad (0:29:45).

One can imagine that it must be taxing on one’s nerves to always act like a buffer between two people.
No wonder that he searches for a person, with whom he can be himself and this is also the key to the necessity of the song maine tujhe manga tujhe paya hai.
I have a feeling he blames their mother for the fratricide he has to commit, while she sees him as the culprit, who has killed her favourite son. It is after all she who gives him his arms when he has to catch Vijay. No, they don’t really accuse each other for it but certain scenes speak for themselves.

The look on Ravi’s face, after Vijay has died in his mother’s arms. He stands (again) all alone carrying the guilton his shoulders but also the look on his face expresses an exclusion, a feeling of never having been a part of the deep love which the mother and son shared. The way the camera zooms away from the Pieta-like posture towards Ravi gives me the feeling that the mother accuses him of murder. Their facial expressions during the award ceremony at the beginning and the end of the film also speak volumes. During this ceremony Ravi doesn’t say my mother, but calls her name, Sumitradevi, and then adds, who is also khushkismati se (fortunately) his mother. The reaction on her face shows, that she knows that her son is not sharing the honour with her but rather the guilt.

Vijay is, compared to Ravi, quite an open book, though he is portrayed as a closed one. The script gives him more opportunity to vent his anger and show his emotions. The fact that he is not so ebullient and effervescent like his younger brother accentuates this more.

What surprises me about him is his comet-like career in criminality. Till the point he has the fight with Samant’s men, he is not shown to be in any way involved in criminal actions. We only know that he can become very violent when emotionally charged (he attacks the man, who throws his mother out, with a stone). His talent as a cold and calculating manipulator comes to the fore suddenly when he starts working for Mr. Davar. Are we to assume that he was involved in petty thefts and such before this? To look after a sick mother and guide a school-going brother must have cost more money than what a shoe-shine boy could afford.

Father India?

Of deep interest is the role of the father. He epitomises the lost ideals and moral figure of the nation. If the script writers had wanted they could have made him commit suicide. Instead of that they send him on an endless journey. In search of salvation? It reminds a bit of Raju the Guide, who after his crime also can not find peace; in further sense this also reminds of Devdas.
And when does he die? Right after the scene of mere paas maa hai (I have mother). Does he get mukti (salvation), because he knows now the Mother India is in the hand of the righteous?

Anita and Veera
Both, Anita and Veera have hardly much screen space. Anita has a broader canvas than Veera, who as a compensation gets to sing two duets.

Bhatacharjee and Vittal in their vibrant book R. D. Burman – The Man, The Music write that of the five songs composed for the film only three remained in the final cut. That is a bit confusing since in the video mentioned above there are four songs. The only two songs which are still remembered are keh doo tumhe ya chhup rahoon and maine tujhe maanga tujhe paaya hai. The song in English I am in love with a stranger is supposedly the only one where Pancham also acted as a lyricist. Then there is the mujra-qawaali type of song koi mar jaaye kisipe kahan yeh dekha hai, which was forced upon by financiers. That brings the total to four. Maybe the authors didn’t consider the English song as a proper song since it is much of a background song.
Interestingly enough in the credits at the beginning of the film, Manna Dey features in the list of playback singers. Thus it must be his song, which was cut. I wonder why they put koi mar jaaye in. They could have featured a cabaret with Helen instead, which was quite en vogue at that time.

Personally I think the script writers had a big say in this matter. Javed Akhtar is quoted as saying „There is no scope for music in the film. It was meant to be a film about a man who rebels against the establishment“. Maybe this was also communicated to Pancham in a subtle manner, which resulted in the drought mile for the film. His previous partnership with Trimurti, Yash Chopra and Sahir had yielded the wonderful score of Joshila. The title music of Deewar is by the way, the same that of Joshila and according to the book mentioned above it was used alter on for Ujala Hi Ujala, Heeralal Pannalal, Ganga Meri Maa (all R. D. Burman films), Mahabadmash (Ravindra Jain), Laparwah (Bappi Lahiri), Anpadh (Hemant Bhosle) and Yaarana (Rajesh Roshan).

I would love to see a remake of Deewar, but not again with Vijay as a gangster and Ravi as a policeman. It should be given a certain spin. Do you think it will work if the elder brother continues to work as labourer and the younger brother in search of money and status climbs the career ladder and has to kill the trade union leader elder brother. Hmm.. that would be Namak Haram then. What do you suggest?

Sumitra Devi………………Jaya Bhaduri
Ravi…………………………Shahid Kapoor
Vijay………………………..Hrithik Roshan
Veera……………………….Mahie Gill
Anita………………………..Priyanka Chopra
Davar……………………….Boman Irani
Samant…………………….Anupam Kher


Don’t forget to have a nice and happy Mother’s day. A Mother is someone special and everybody has one!


Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Bollywood


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99 responses to “Deewar [1975]

  1. bethlovesbollywood

    May 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    It drives me absolutely crazy that this is one of the few films everyone remembers Shashi Kapoor for because it’s bizarre role and I don’t think he performs it nearly as well as he does even lots of his other masala in the 70s. I appreciate that you’re getting at the complexity of his character. Everyone talks about how Vijay is victimized, but so is Ravi, and that too BY HIS OWN MOTHER and really his own brother too. It’s fascinating to find such a popular film that in effect vilifies law, order, and duty in favor of martyring a criminal, especially one who is not a freedom fighter or other sort of law-breaker in the name of patriotism or social revolution. Vijay chooses wealth—and revenge against the sneers of his and his father’s past—other goodness yet he is absolutely rewarded, while someone who has always tried to do what was right (as his father did) is put in the worst scenario of the whole film. And the mother, who is so often the symbol of virtue and right action and duty, is an instigator, a coward, and a hypocrite at levels well beyond what is fundamental human foible. My personal dislike aside, I’m always amazed by the appeal and impact of this film when it is in some significant ways quite atypical. I assume a lot of this had to do with Amitabh; can we imagine anyone else pulling off this role and having it so accepted by the public for so long?

    • harveypam

      May 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Thank you for the detailed analytical comment, Beth!
      Yeah, you are right, I think this is one of the first films in which the central character is glorified, though he goes against the law, which was an absolutely no, no in those days. Knowing his past history is what makes him sympathetic, no?

      “he is absolutely rewarded, while someone who has always tried to do what was right (as his father did) is put in the worst scenario of the whole film”
      Well put! I see Vijay as rewarded on the material level, but at the cost of losing his peace of mind, sleep and his family, which grounded him. Ravi gets the worst of both the worlds, in the sense that he gets everything which he didn’t want. He didn’t really want to be a police officer and he gets the job resulting in losing a big part of his family. He gets Veera, but after this incident, he will be needing lots of psychiatric help to get over the trauma. I wonder if he will ever be able to have a functioning relationship after this.

      So, do I understand you right, that you don’t like the film?
      I liked it a lot! The mother was very filmi, that is for sure! But her ambivalence is what makes her so humane for me. Although she is glorified, the director and the script writers have taken care to bring in subtly many contradictory qualities in her.

      “it so accepted by the public for so long”
      Well, Vijay is never shown doing anything really bad. He doesn’t do the absolute don’ts in a film like raping, killing a good person, being a traitor or dealing in drugs. He is a smuggler and people in the 70s in India were very hungry/thirsty for smuggled goods. And given his past and his sort of repenting his deeds, the audience does/did find him good.

    • Shashi

      May 15, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Amitabh as the bad guy is very convincing. His guilt is very evident from his eyes. Remember the scene where he’s seeing the footpath from Iftekar’s office a top storeyed building. But he was much more convincing in “Kala Paththar” as the….again don’t want to give away anything.

      • harveypam

        May 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm

        He isn’t really the bad bad-guy is he? He is like the good-guy gone astray. He is very intense here. In Kalaa Patthar he was good too, but somehow the whole film didn’t hold up together, it jsu tfizzled out. Too many threads and too much story and less content

  2. Anu Warrier

    May 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Harvey, you *finally* watched Deewar! I’m so proud of you. Thank you so much for linking back to my review. 🙂

    Coming to your post: I find your views interesting. It brings a different perspective. I’m afraid I *cannot* see Ravi as sympathetically as you do. There is something about the very righteous that bothers me, because their very rigidity makes them unlikeable. Like I mentioned in my review of Shakti, there is no reason why Vijay had to be shot dead. In fact, the police are warned to take the offenders alive, if possible. Duty over family is fine, but is there something that says that that duty will be fulfilled *only* if the family member is dead? If you want to analyse it further, I wonder how much of Ravi’s resentment spills over to a place where duty and intent coincide. (It helps Vijay is Amitabh!) And I wonder if I would feel the same way if Raviwas played by Amitabh, or if I would be more sympathetic to his angst. :))

    The songs were not very great anyway, and I agree that this was a film that asked for none. I have a feeling that since they signed Neetu Singh, and they didn’t have much of a role to offer her, they decided to add a couple of songs.

    And NO! I do NOT want Hrithik Roshan playing another Amitabh character. Hrithik reminds me of a male Barbie doll – he is too goodlooking, too muscled, too aware of himself to be the character at all. I keep feeling that he is too busy looking in the mirror when he is supposed to be emoting. Priyanka Chopra for Anita is pitch perfect, though.

    My casting would be:
    Anita: Priyanka Chopra
    Veera: Any arbit chick – she has nothing to do, but push me, and I would choose Kalki Koechlin.
    Ravi: Shahid Kapoor
    Dawar: Naseeruddin Shah
    Samant: Irfan Khan
    Maa: Raakhee / Kiron Kher

    I have no one for Amitabh really. I cannot think of *one* contemporary actor who could bring that intensity alive on screen. Aamir perhaps, but he really would not fit the role. A younger Anil Kapoor, perhaps.

    And now my comment is almost as long as your post, so feel free to chop mercilessly! 🙂

    • harveypam

      May 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Chop your comment? Never!

      Thanks to you and pacifist, I did watch it and that also few weeks back, remember my comment on your post?
      I think that is why you put finally in asterisks! 😉

      The reason I find Ravi sympathetic as well lies maybe in the fact that I am a younger brother as well! 😉
      It is not the question of liking or disliking for me but rather understanding. His rigidity and that of his brother is what brings about the tragedy. Ravi just has learnt to do the things he does good and proper. If he was a bank clerk, I think he wouldn’t have pressurised Vijay to give up crime. He would have maybe loved if he did, but he wouldn’t have called the police or something like that.
      Vijay need not have been shot dead, but you wouldn’t have got that splendid climax without that. 😉
      If he intentionally killed Vijay would be always a matter of discussion. But by killing Vijay, I think, he also kills a certain part of himself. A part of himself, which he never could admit or stand by and that is his quest for revenge for his father’s insult. His darker side to his superficial sunny boy character. Till Vijay was alive he represented that darker side. What after his demise? Is it really gone?

      I liked the two songs all the same. Particularly maine tujhe manga tujhe paya hai has somehow always accompanied me in the background throughout my life. And I do think that it has a very good and important place in the film. It is Ravi’s haven of peace, to which he returns back everytime.

      So you find Hrithik superficial? Amitabh is hard to replace, that is true, but I couldn’t really think of anybody else. Vivek Oberoi as I knew him from Company would do good as well, I think.
      Aamir would be good, but I don’t know if he would fit in this one. But one can trust Aamir to come up with his own version of Vijay, but I have a feeling, that he would never act in a remake.
      The other actors are good choice and nice to see that we agree on Shahid Kapoor! 🙂

      Thanks again for this detailed comment! Loved it!

    • Shashi

      May 15, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Do you think Ajay Devgn would be the right fit for Vijay’s role?

      • harveypam

        May 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm

        That is right. He would be good for the role, but a bit old maybe. Koi younger actors me achha intensiv actor nahin hai?

  3. thandapani

    May 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    This is an excellent analysis. Sometimes it is good to see a movie late and be able to really watch it.. you know.. analytically.

    • harveypam

      May 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Wohi to! That is why I took so much time to watch this film at last. 😉
      The distance in space and time as you have put it rightly does help in seeing the story through a different perspective.
      In fact I haven’t seen many Amitabh films. In my childhood the main source of films were DD, since my family hardly went to the cinema. That is for a family in Bombay a very uncommon thing to do.

  4. dustedoff

    May 14, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I have seen Deewar a couple of times, though I’m not as mad about it as nearly everybody else seems to be. 🙂 (Possibly because I’m not fanatical about Amitabh. He’s all right, not God).

    Really, really liked your analysis, Harvey – especially your analysis of Ravi, because I could understand his ‘caught between the devil and the deep blue sea’ point of view. It perhaps also has something to do with the fact that my father was a police officer, and while he didn’t end up in such terrible moral dilemmas (thank goodness our relatives weren’t criminals!!), there were frequent occasions where people – for instance, acquaintances who thought ALL cops were corrupt – would ask my father for a ‘favour’ of some sort (it could be something as ‘minor’ as lending an official for going shopping). My father didn’t ever seem to think twice about it; he’d always say no. But I wonder if he ever had to face a situation where the repercussions of his honesty were detrimental to his own personal life.

    • harveypam

      May 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Madhu! You are on a holiday and that also in Kashmir!
      That is why I treasure your comment more!
      I loved Deewar! I would say I would put it in among one of the good films of Hindi cinema. I just wonder at times if this is the same Yash Chopra, who would give us one year later Kabhi Kabhie [1976]!
      I am very glad that you liked the analysis of Ravi. Not that I am partial to him, but the focus is so much on Vijay, that he poor thing gets sidelined, although he is the person, who is fighting on all fronts and has to take uncomfortable decisions and all this for a person who would rather be far away from this madding crowd!
      Oh, I can just imagine what your father had to go through! I remember you telling me that he got transferred all the time as a reward for his honesty. My father was not a police inspector, but in the vigilance department later on in his career in the railways. The things he had to fight off or put up with were awful enough, so that I can just imagine what a police officer has to go through. If ‘lending’ an official to go shopping is minor, I just don’t want to know what the major ‘favours’ that were demanded! 😦

      • dustedoff

        May 14, 2012 at 11:13 am

        Arre baba, Harvey: you’ve got it all wrong. I leave tomorrow – Tuesday morning – for my vacation. I’m still in Delhi, feasting my eyes on the amaltas and the jarool and gulmohar and whatnot. 🙂

        • harveypam

          May 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm

          I thought as much after your comments on facebook!
          Enjoy the mild temperatures in Srinagar!
          What is jarool? I am learning many new things from you! 🙂

          • Shashi

            May 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

            Madhu – In Kashmir, if you come across a handsome young man in an open jeep singing “Pukarta chala hoon main….” don’t even think of me !! 😀

            • harveypam

              May 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm

              Why? Do you look like Biswajeet? 😉

              • Shashi

                May 16, 2012 at 8:49 am

                LOL!! No Harvey !! ROTFL and I wouldn’t want to look like him 😀

                • harveypam

                  May 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

                  Come on Shashi! Won’t you like some chikna rosy cheeks and red lips to match? 😉

                  • dustedoff

                    May 22, 2012 at 9:42 am

                    Hehe!! Harvey, I liked that little conversation between you and Shashi.

                    @Shashi: Didn’t come across anybody singing Pukaarta chala hoon main. But yes, the local radio channel in Srinagar (I think an FM channel) gets a HUGE number of requests from across the country for all these lovely old songs!

  5. sunheriyaadein

    May 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I had seen this movie so long ago that I dont remember much of it apart from “Mera baap chor hai” , “Mere paas Ma hai” and “Keh doon tumhe”.
    After reading your post I feel it’s high time that I re-watch this film. I’ve already bookmarked the link that Pacifist has given and am going to watch it as soon as possible. I will come back to drop a comment after I watch it.

  6. harveypam

    May 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    That’s a good idea – to rewatch the film. It is indeed a very interesting and engrossing film!
    I’m very curious about your thoughts!

  7. bethlovesbollywood

    May 15, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Ooooh I had never thought about the fact that Ravi doesn’t even WANT to be a cop! WOW they really wrote him into a corner, didn’t they? The thing about maa in this film, for me, is 1) she so blatantly shows favoritism and 2) she has her son do her own dirty work of publicly enacting both her shame (or whatever other negative feeling we might assign her) of having a criminal son and the punishment for it that she is too weak to give. And you’re right, I guess Vijay never does anything absolutely horrific, though if I recall right he does have sex before marriage, and that too with a prostitute. I forget, do Anita and Maa ever meet? It’s hard to imagine Maa approving of Anita even with the okay of her favorite son.

    But all this aside, it’s certainly an interesting film, and I love thinking about how and why it has resonated with people! 🙂

    • Shashi

      May 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

      No, the mother doesn’t get to meet Anita in the movie. I think she has her reasons to love Vijay more. At a time, when she’s wondering how she will take care of her sons’ education, Vijay shares that with her. He’s not bothered that his own future will be jeopardised “Hum done itna to kama hi lenge, ki Ravi ki padhai poori ho” I think it takes real guts to admit that to her second son.

      But, my heart sure warms up for Ravi. In every scene, he evokes a lot of sympathy. Be it the interview, the jobless conversation, the school teacher episode, finally shooting his brother. I think the heart breaking one is the climax where the mother accepts the award. Shashi was just so mind blowing in that scene. He sure deserved the Filmfare award that year for the Best Supporting actor. Remember, he beat Amjad Khan (nominated for Gabbar Singh) to it….

      • harveypam

        May 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm

        You are right, Anita doesn’t meet mother. She dies before that.
        I didn’t know that Shashi got the Filmfare Award for the best supporting actor. Amjad Khan was nominated in best supporting category and not in best villain? Or was the latter category not included at that time?

        • Shashi

          May 16, 2012 at 8:50 am

          Right, Harvey. There was no best villain category at that time.

          • harveypam

            May 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

            Thanks for the info, Shashi!

    • pacifist

      May 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      > 1) she so blatantly shows favoritism

      I think it was the pain she felt for him which manifested in favouritism – what with the tattoo and child labour stage in his life.
      As for any fears of negative psychological effects on Ravi because of that, I would’nt worry. He grew up with reverence for him. He underlines this when he says that his brother’s sweat is also flowing through his veins along with his mother’s milk and father’s blood (Lord, that sounds cheesy in English). This cements the position he has given him.

      > 2) she has her son do her own dirty work of publicly enacting both her shame (or whatever other negative feeling we might assign her) of having a criminal son

      The son is a police officer and the right person to deal with a criminal even if the criminal is her son. As such I don’t see this as her own dirty work.
      Doubt if she was supposed to feel ashamed more than expressing moral uprightness and the wrongness of his life.

      > and the punishment for it that she is too weak to give

      She wasn’t weak at all. She gave Vijay the severest punishment of all. She refused to have anything from him or to do with him – once again underlined by Ravi when he responds with a harsh mere paas maa hai leaving Vijay speechless. I think Vijay must have considered that as a worse punishment than death.

      > about how and why it has resonated with people!

      Well, if I can be taken as a sample (and I represent most people who I met thinking the same in India) it was all to do with sentiments and emotions that the film came up with. Many didn’t see it in an analytical light that puts the mother or even the ‘villain’ in a negative light. People were rooting for just about everyone here. They loved the way Vijay fought the oppressors at the dock, they loved the way he out manoeuvred the bad smugglers (quite forgetting he was one of them 😀 )
      Two brothers and a mother makes for all the sentiment and emotion one could ask for, which in those days Indians loved.

    • harveypam

      May 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      As I told Anu, it is not that Ravi doesn’t want become a cop. It is like he won’t mind becoming a cop. He takes up the job, without really knowing what he is letting himself into.
      Maa does show her liking for her older son openly, doesn’t she? Quite unlike all the filmi mothers, who would never mouth the words of preferring one son over the other.

      “she has her son do her own dirty work”
      There I think she is as much a victim as a perpetrator. The way Ravi looks at her at that particular moment, she knows what exactly is expected of her. Being the idealistic wife of the idealistic husband, she doesn’t have any option other than do it the way she does it.
      I think that is why Vijay is the hero even though Ravi has the positive role. Vijay is the one who breaks the mould of being a son of the leader. This doesn’t help him much, because he falls in the mould of meraa baap chor hai (my father is a thief), which means he has to become a thief himself. Poor Ravi struggles the longest, but like Shashi has said, the visit to the old teacher’s hut, is the proverbial last straw, which pushes him in the mould of the idealistic son. Positioned as they are their story can’t lead anywhere else.
      I think Maa would ahve been so happy that Vijay is going straight again, that she would have accepted anyone as a daughter-in-law. The question is how would they have coped with each other after marriage in a joint Indian family? 🙂

      As for the postive resonance among the people: Well, it was the 70s in India. totally frustrated populace, fedup with the promises of garibi hatao (remove poverty). Seeing one of their own throwing the morals of Gandhi overboard and living a life of luxury must have struck a chord with lots of people!

  8. Shashi

    May 15, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Good review and at an apt time, Harvey !! Harvey Ram Harvey Krishna 🙂

    Did you know Navin Nischal was to have played Shashi’s role initially? Don’t know why he wasn’t confirmed.

    Rajesh Khanna was considered for Amitabh’s role. But since he had differences with Salim-Javed, he couldn’t make it. Amitabh considers this movie’s script to be the least flawless of all the movies he has acted in.

    The most memorable scene (for me) is the one where Shashi Kapoor ends up in the school teacher’s hut. That was the turning point in his life as he decides to….well, don’t want to give away anything. “Aisi sabak ek teacher ke ghar se hi mil sakti thi”

    • Shashi

      May 15, 2012 at 11:01 am

      BTW, Vyjayanthimala too turned down a role from this movie. Any guesses?

      • harveypam

        May 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

        Anita’s? 😉
        Mother’s role, naturally!
        Even Suchitra Sen was considered for the role as was Nutan.

        • harveypam

          May 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm

          All of them declined saying that they were too young to play a role of a mother of grown-up kids. Nutan said that she can’t play Amitabh’s mother after she has played his wife in Saudagar.

    • harveypam

      May 15, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Thank you, Shashi!

      “Harvey Ram Harvey Krishna :-)”
      Tu baaz nahin aayega, s***!

      Yeah, I had heard about Navin Nischol having been offered the role of Ravi. We just can’t imagine it now, no? Shashi seems so perfect for it.
      I read about Rajesh Khanna being offered the role of Vijay in Anu’s post. He would have created Vijay totally different. I think he would have insisted on at least one song and a duet. No wonder he had differences with Salim-Javed.

      I agree with you about that scene. It is this scene, where Shashi grows up and realises his responsibility and the duties of his new job.

  9. pacifist

    May 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    That is a fantastic character analysis harvey.
    One thing is clear from your review. Since you have based a lot of your thoughts on their expressions I must say they acted well 😀

    I was quite tickled thinking you posted the review because of mere paas maa hai, maybe you did.

    That I (along with Anu) was instrumental in making you take the plunge flatters me no end. 😀

    Great thoughts.

    • pacifist

      May 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      BTW I have expressed my views in response to Beth’s comment.
      Didn’t want to repeat myself.

      But to further emphasise the punishment Vijay received at the hands of his mother (who Beth feels was too weak to give) is your last sentence;

      >A Mother is someone special and everybody has one!

      Vijay didn’t really have one inspite of her being there. I remember that broke my heart. 😦

      It couldn’t have been easy for her, and must have suffered equally, but yes, the writers also wanted her to stand up for morals.

      • Anu Warrier

        May 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

        pacifist, thanks for your rebuttal of Beth’s perception of the film. 🙂 You expressed what I felt better than I could have done.

        Harvey, one quibble – I disagree that Ravi did not want to be a police officer. He has been unsuccessful in seeking employment because he has no references, no sifarish from anyone (and of course, he gives up the *one* job he gets to someone who is needier than him – if that was supposed to make me feel he was such a nice man, it failed completely!) and when he is sitting with Veera, her father asks him to join, and Ravi is more than happy to do so! It is something he had never thought of, but when he knows he has a chance, he jumps at it. And why not.

        My issue with Ravi is only because he shot Vijay in the end. 🙂 Otherwise, I quite like Shashi Kapoor. 🙂

        • harveypam

          May 15, 2012 at 8:35 pm

          Anu, aapke har quibble sar-aankhon par!
          As for my perception: He never showed any ambitions to becoming a cop, he was like “If I can’t get any other job, I’ll take up this one.” It wasn’t like as if he wanted to take up the fight against crime. He realises the full consequences of taking up that job after he shoots at the small-time bread-thief.

          He didn’t really kill Vijay, did he? He shot at him and that single shot was lethal! Bechara kya karta. He didn’t even hesitate at shooting the small boy! 😉 Okay that was macabre! Sorry!

      • harveypam

        May 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

        I think the problem with the relationship begins with the absence of the father, who all the same looms large on the family in form of his ideals.
        When I say the above statement, I don’t mean that fatherless families or single-mother household don’t work. They do and some of them splendidly!
        Returning back to our Deewar family, because of the absence of this particular idealistic father, the whole structure of the family changes. Vijay takes up the empty father’s place to feed the family. He just can’t fill up that position because of the high ideals attached to it. The mother is frustrated with the vacuum, but she is not powerful enough to fill this space and the person who is filling up this place just does not measure up to her expectations. Ravi misses his brother, who is taking up the position of the father. So you see, the whole family structure is dysfunctional. Everybody is standing in somebody else’s position or has a different relationship to the person standing at the right place.

        • Anu Warrier

          May 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm

          See, my reading of Vijay’s character is that he is contemptuous that his father chose to run away from his responsibilities – which is why he is so adamant about shouldering them. He will not be a coward (the scene where he tells his mother ‘Should I have run away too?

          He learns very quickly that life is unfair, and that poverty means you are always going to be ground underfoot. So, he, while having been honest (he fights against Samant’s men who take hafta from the dock workers), is not beyond knowing that wealth will bring him power. He doesn’t have to have been dishonest, or a petty thief before to have taken care of his family before he steps into the world of crime. And possibly, he does not think of protecting Davar’s gold from Samant as something morally wrong. He’s used to taking care of his own, and this falls into the same category. Once inside the world of crime, and remember that smuggling, especially gold smuggling, those days was not considered ‘illegal’ except by the law. 🙂 Haji Mastan, on whose story this film was based, was revered by the community in which he lived.

          I do not think the film ‘glorifies’ a smuggler, as much as takes a closer look at what makes men turn to crime. Vijay may have been the ‘hero’ but he was definitely not the good man, and the script does nothing to make us think he is. It is telling that in the scene under the bridge when he warns his brother, he says ‘It’s too late for me now, but you still have time. Go away.’ In the long run, no one is a winner here – Vijay had wealth, but he lost his innocence, his mother and his brother whom he had almost brought up like a son. The mother loses her husband, and then her eldest son to crime, and then death. Ravi is left with an unpaid dept towards his brother, the guilt of fratricide, and the knowledge that whatever happens next, his life will never quite be the same.

          The reason why Deewar still resonates with people, even though the docks and gold smugglers have vanished from India’s fabric is simply because it told the story of a family torn apart by circumstances. And there is no blame attached to any of them – refreshingly, none is assigned to Anita either. In the whole film, the only character that was too one-dimensional for me was Veera; she wasn’t fleshed out enough to make her Ravi’s moral support, nor did she have anything to add to the script. Which is why, to me, the song became superfluous to the plot. It didn’t seem like Ravi was the sort who would go around singing either. I also think this was one of Shashi’s finest commercial performances – which is why I love to hate him so much in this role. 🙂

          Chalo, ek aur vishesh tippani likh di! 😦

          • harveypam

            May 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

            Well put, Anu! 🙂
            Your way of looking at the whole story comes up very nicely and is very true.
            And I don’t at all feel that it stays in contradiction to what I say other than that you have written it much better than I ever could. 🙂

            As for the song: Well, nobody is like the type to go around singing openly on the streets or in a park. Songs have been used by good directors often to show the cine-goers a certain part of the story, which can’t be put in words or showing that angle would take up to much time. And this way I feel, that the song maine tujhe manga tujhe paaya hain shows the space in Ravi’s life, where he goes for solace, where he is accepted and far away from bad conscience and family problems.
            Why a 😦 at “Chalo, ek aur vishesh tippani likh di!” (So, I wrote again a special essay!)
            I feel 🙂 that you wrote ek vishesh tippani (a special essay)

    • harveypam

      May 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you, pacifist!
      You are right, they acted totally according to my analysis! Custom-made! 😀

      Of course I posted it because of mere paas maa hai! What would Deewar be without maa?
      Maa makes the world go round! 🙂

      You are right in being flattered and I am grateful to you!

  10. Samir

    May 15, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I have read your great review & the comments that followed with a lot of interest. There is not much I can add that has not been mentioned, but here are two points :-
    1) Probably one of the first BWood movies to show the central character as an atheist. Guide was another one, and in both the atheist sort of moved away his non-belief (due to external circumstances).
    2) It could be argued that the main crime being committed (gold smuggling) is really an economic crime, certainly not on par with universal crimes such as robbery & murder, and also not a crime in several other countries. Indeed, India relaxed its prohibition on gold smuggling after liberalization; and one could argue that Samant Davar Vijay et al were just extremely ruthless competitors. I am not going to go into whether stealing another smuggler’s gold is really stealing, I guess under today’s Indian rules, all these people could be imprisoned for stealing from one another (& not for the main crime of gold smuggling,)
    The interesting part is whether the Indian audience instinctively understood this difference (economic crime vs robbery/murder), I really have no opinion. Historically, India remains one of the the world’s largest (largest for many years) consumer of gold, and so one could argue that a significant section of the audience did sympathize with gold smuggling.
    It is also interesting to note that during those times (early 70’s), US citizens did not have the right to own gold, other than limited amounts of jewellery.

    • harveypam

      May 16, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Thank you!
      Interesting thoughts there, Samir!
      I never really thought about that atheist angle! I agree with you upto certain point that Vijay is sort of an atheist. But one can’t call him an atheist in the strictest sense. He does believe in God, but it is as if he has a troubled relationship with him. He doesn’t say God doesn’t exist, but rather that he doesn’t like him. Or did I miss something?
      You have put that gold smuggling crime in a very interesting perspective. I think I need to sleep over it, to really find my opinion on that.
      I didn’t know that US citizens didn’t have the right to won unlimited amount of gold till the early 70s!

  11. Shilpi Bose

    May 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Your deep analysis of Ravi and your subsequent comment,’ Not that I am partial to him, but the focus is so much on Vijay, that he poor thing gets sidelined…’ reminds me of me, how? Back in my childhood when Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins went to the moon, I, (I was an emotional kid) felt strongly about the fact that poor Collins could not land on the moon as he was stuck in the command module and was sort of sidelined, for Armstrong and Aldrin got all the attention. Childish I guess but I am sure Collins must have thought, ‘So near yet so far.”

    • harveypam

      May 16, 2012 at 9:52 am

      I understand very much your emotions about Collins who had to sit in the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin got to frolick around on the moon. Just like you I am also for the underdog!
      What you think is childish is in fact called empathy and that is very mature! 🙂

  12. Lalitha

    May 17, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I just finished reading the post and all the comments, and I am floored! Dumbstruck! All this analysis – hats off to you, Harvey, and to all the readers!
    My own little two cents – mothers do tend to favor, just a wee little bit, the child who seems to be less successful, less intellectual, less outgoing, less healthy, less anything that the other child seems to get without trying!

    • harveypam

      May 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Thank you Lalitha!
      Those are some very valuable two cents that you have provided!
      I understand very much that feeling!

  13. Lalitha

    May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Just finished watching the movie once again, in bits and pieces, thanks to Pacifist! I had forgotten some parts of it and as usual, the nitpicker in me had this question – Vijay was shot only once by Ravi, and I thought it was on his left arm, but there was blood on his back, on the right shoulder. Surely that arm wound couldn’t have caused him to die?
    Second niggling doubt – if Anita had been given that sari by her mother, a long time back, I am really, really impressed that the blouse still fit so perfectly! Or did she have a super tailor who stitched the blouse really fast? In Bombay? At that time of night?
    Sorry to rain on everyone’s party.

    • Samir

      May 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      1) I had the same doubt about the shot on the left shoulder, though I did not notice the blood on the right shoulder. One way he could have died is if the bullet went thru’ his shoulder and entered his chest, and hit either the lung or the heart. I am not much of an anatomy expert to comment much further, my only knowledge of a slightly similar real-life situation is when President Reagan got shot just below the left shoulder and the bullet penetrated his lung. He was saved due to immediate hosptalization and surgey, Vijay did not receive any such care. Of course, I cannot be certain that a bullet entering a shoulder can travel all the way to either the lung or the heart or a major blood vessel; we really need a doctor and a firearms expert to comment.
      2) LOL @ #2, never realized this point, and (like most males) plead complete ignorance re: female clothing issues.

      • harveypam

        May 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm

        Well argued, Samir. You sure, you are not a surgeon or something similar?
        I presume, you mean you are ignorant as to ‘stitching’ of female clothing.

    • Anu Warrier

      May 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Lalitha, after all these years of watching Hindi films, don’t you know that when the heroine gets a sari, the blouse automatically appears, custom-stitched *Always*. In Anita’s case, maybe she got the blouse stitched more recently – I mean, just before her ‘fall’ into prostitution. 🙂 When she still had dreams of being the good married wife. 🙂

      ps: Don’t knock Bombay tailors – I just got a blouse stitched in four hours – gave it in the evening, got it at night before I was leaving – and it fits perfectly. 🙂

      • Anu Warrier

        May 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm

        Also, about one shot killing Vijay – that *proves* Vijay was not ‘hero’ – heroes usually get shot with a machine gun and still manage to not only kill the villain with *one* shot from a handgun, they also recover so they can sing songs in the Alps with their heroines in the last scene. It is only the villains who can die of a single shot that does not seem to touch any vital organ. Ergo – Vijay is a villain.

        Vijay was a villain, and therefore deserved to die in the end. Ha! I have now proved it to the satisfaction of everyone who was moaning over Ravi getting the short end of the stick.

        No, no! *modestly* No need to thank me; *so-o-o* glad to do my bit for the preservation of masala tropes in Hindi cinema.

        • harveypam

          May 17, 2012 at 10:51 pm

          I wonder what happened to the song, which Ravi gets to sing with Veera in the Swiss Alps, after he shoots Vijay!
          I think the song was Maar dala! 😉

      • harveypam

        May 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

        Yeah, I’ve heard about Bombay tailors doing it!
        only when it comes to stitch my ganji they fail! 😉

    • harveypam

      May 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Well, Lalitha some carry their heart on their sleeves, some do it on their backs and some on their shoulders. Vijay belongs to the third category.
      Anita got the sari from her mother long long time back. That is true! What Anita forgot to mention that her mother was also a very wise woman. She knew that this is an uncertain world, who knows what may befall her poor daughter and in a great foresightedness she let the blouse be stitched from a stretch material. In the original script there was a scene between Anita and Vijay, where she would explain this all to him. It was positioned in fact right after the scene of mere paas maa hai, where Anita would barge in and say tere paas maa hai to mere paas blouse hai, aur who bhi stretch material ka! Haa! And then there was supposed to be the song yeh blouse kaisi hai, zanjeer jaisi hai… But it was cut on the intervention of Shashi Kapoor who was very pissed off that he again won’t get the last word.
      I was not supposed to say all this but you forced it out of me, Lalitha!

      • Lalitha

        May 18, 2012 at 3:19 am

        Harvey, that is some stre-e-e-tch of the imagination (and blouse material!)!! I think movie producers will be beating down your door soon, seeing that you have such a vivid imagination and including scenes suggested by you will bring the crowds to the theaters such that they have never seen before! You have a second career in the making, Harvey!

        • harveypam

          May 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

          Thank you Lalitha! Only a genius can recognise another genius!
          Even Madhu has been asking me to reconsider my career options.
          In fact only yesterday, Yashji came with an offer, but I said no. My place is here in my blog. He offered me as much as five crore for one script. I said “Yashji, mere baaton ka bura mat maniye. Dekhiye, aap ke liye film likhunga to sirf 100 crore logon ke dil me basunga. Par yahan hamare blog me mere dil ke tukde rehte hai. Mujhe unse judaa na kijiye” (Yashji, please don’t be offended. if I write a film for your I will live in 100 crore people’s hearts, but here in my blog lies my heart. Please don’t separate me from it). He understood my dilemma and said that he will come in two years again. 😉

      • pacifist

        May 18, 2012 at 10:24 pm

        Maybe the dialogue in response to mere paas maa hai should be mere paas maa ka diya blouse hai

        • harveypam

          May 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm

          Yeah, that dialogue would have fitted in a scene between Neetu and Parveen! 🙂

  14. Lalitha

    May 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Good explanation, Anu! I must get your Bombay tailor’s address next time I go to India!

    @Samir, maybe the bullet hit his left arm, went through the arm, went through his left side and punctured his lung or heart, then wandered up and went out through the right shoulder? Anything is possible in Bollywood!

    • Samir

      May 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      @Lalitha & @Anu (& anyone else who loves Masala) :
      If I remember correctly (& Anu will confirm), in Shakti, Amitabh was shot in the left shoulder as well. Maybe someone should examine this tendency to get shot in the left shoulder & die.
      Also, (extending Lalitha’s excellent Bollywood logic) it is possible that the Deewar bullet exited his right shoulder and kind of hung around till it hit him again in Shakti; thereby absolving Dilip Kumar of any blame;)
      In Deewar he was shot in South Bombay, & then he drove to a mandir somewhere (I presume) in North Bombay. In Shakti he was shot at Bombay airport (on or close to a runway), so we can deduce that the mandir must have close to the airport.
      Of course, this raises the possibility that Amitabh intentionally committed suicide, if could drive, why did he not drive himself to a hospital ? There were several good ones in South Bombay that c ould have saved him 😉

      • pacifist

        May 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm

        LOL! To answer your question – because it’s masala.

      • harveypam

        May 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm

        I think it is left-shoulder-shot epidemic that befell Vijays of that time.
        One thing which we have ignored is that Vijay loses his badge, that was his badge which saved him before from all the bullets of this earth, because the bullets just rebounded from the magnetic-metal badge. It used to attract the bullets to it absorb its energy and rebound it. Now since he lost this shield, he was vulnerable and all the bullets of yore, which couldn’t kill him had left metal traces all inside his body and they rebounded the bullet which entered his left shoulder inside his body so long till it entered his heart and then his lung and whatever vital organs he had and left his body through the right shoulder. Phew! That was complicated!
        And now to something very simple.
        The reason why he didn’t drive himself to a hospital is very easily answered, they would have asked him to bring a police report first. Remember Munnabhai and suicide kid!

    • harveypam

      May 17, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Yeah Anu, I need your tailor’s address as well, maybe he stitches ganji extra fast as well.
      Lalitha, you are as it is well-versed in Masala-logic. You were just testing us, eh?

      • Lalitha

        May 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

        Harvey, since I cannot do any intelligent tippani, seeing that I lack the brains to do so, I come up with these silly questions, instead – that’s all, no testing of others.

        • harveypam

          May 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

          You are too modest, my dear Lalitha!
          Your so-called silly questions add rang to the discussion!
          Please do contribute such questions!

  15. Songs Of Yore

    May 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm


    Deewar is one film I am openly obsessed about even at the risk of this becoming something of a family joke.

    Mere paas Ma hai – these four words changed the definition of an immortal dialogue. Before this a memorable dialogue had to be at least Chunai Seth, Jinke ghar sheeshe ke hote hain wo doosron ke ghar pe pathar nahi phenkte. This was the year when Salim Javed contracted it further with Kitne aadmi the – the three most memorable words ever spoken in Hindi films.

    Salim Javed continue their economising in the film. More than the dialogues, powerful as they are, even more powerful are silences. Silence of Amitabh Bachchan, silence between him and Parween Babi, which convey infinitely more than any amount of dialogue would have done.

    It is interesting how you, Anu and Philip interpret Shashi Kapoor’s character. To start with, he had no chance before Amitabh Bachchan, which is infinitely more nuanced. Instead of complex psychoanalysis, he can be seen in the literal way Yash Chopra is showing – an average man torn between duty with unpleasant consequences and love for a sibling. His initial avoidance to take up the case is like a routine ‘recusal’ by a judge from a case in which he has conflict of interest. Even in normal professional life you are required to declare your conflict of interest and offer to withdraw from that matter, which is invariably allowed. This is seen as the ethically correct thing to do and not a sign of cowardice. But then there would be no Deewar. So you have a wavering, self-doubting and weak-willed Shashi Kapoor like Arjuna in the battlefield, and you have Lord Krishna like AK Hangal clearing all his doubts. Now a transformed Shashi Kapoor smartly salutes his boss and asks to be given that assignment. Implied in his erect frame and determination is that the end game may be anything. Nirupa Roy’s ritually handing him over the pistol is a reference to stories of Rajput valour in our tradition – Jodha Bai handing over the sword to Akbar in Mughal-e-Azam is a case in point. I find it difficult to see Shashi Kapoor-Nirupa Roy dynamic as one of silent guilt and mutual accusation.

    I find the Mother more problematic, even though she has become one of the defining mothers at par with Mother India. I find her extreme righteousness jarring. One is left unsatisfied at her lack of or refusal to understand that Amitabh Bachchan is seeking not the material wealth, but avenging the searing insult, and ultimately acceptance by the mother.

    The most endearing female character is Parveen Babi, and here Yash Chopra has broken a new ground. Known for producing Switzerland-backdropped candy floss romances, here they create a female character (in mid-70’s!), who is fallen, a bar girl who smokes, drinks, sleeps with a man without marriage quite as a matter of fact. Yet she is the only one who understands the pain of Amitabh Bachchan. When Amitabh Bachchan returns shattered after the final rejection by the mother, he asks her to make a drink, she simply says sure, and they just lie silently by the side of each other. It is these scenes which make the film powerful.

    Neetu Singh is a completely dispensable character. The only part she plays in the story is helping Shashi Kapoor get a job as a police officer. The heroine getting a job for the boyfriend with the help of her influential father is a trite cliche in Hindi films, which Yash Chopra could have very well avoided. There are any number of educated boys who get the job as a police officer without their having a girl friend. That could have made the story a little tighter.

    Most cameos are outstanding – such as Yunus Parvez. Iftekhar as the sophisticated don is charming, he outdoes KN Singh and Ajit. The only other actor I could think of who can make a similar impact would be Ashok Kumar. Even his sidey Sudhir is excellent.

    Now the last point – was it necessary for Amitabh Bachchan to die? This is linked to the question should Parveen Babi die. Her dying is the justification for Amitabh Bachchan to forget his resolve to close the old chapter and turn himself in. He goes on to wreak violent retribution on Madan Puri. Once Parveen Babi is gone (and with her their unborn child), Amitabh Bachchan has nothing to live for.


    • harveypam

      May 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      A well-written analysis of Deewar, AK! Thank you!
      It made really good reading!
      As is in most cases with stories, there are different ways to look at it. I agree with you on all points, or at least understand them.
      S-J did change the landscape of script writing in Hindi cinema, they revolutionised it, but unfortuantely the trend didn’t hold.
      Ravi’s comparison with Arjuna is very much justified. He voices it himself in the hospital.
      The poor mother, eh? Yeah, she does show less understanding for Vijay. But she is seeing her husband (not in an incestous way) in him. She just can’t believe that he has left his ideals behind.
      Anita is a very sympathetic character and Chopra shows her as a very strong woman.
      I think Veera was essential for the movie to show that Ravi also has somebody to turn too, who gives him the moral support he needs and doesn’t get it from his mother.
      If Vijay didn’t die, the film would have been only half as good.
      Thanks again for your detailed comment! Loved reading it!

    • Anu Warrier

      May 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      AK, I agree with all your points, especially regarding the characters of Parveen, Neetu and Nirupa Roy – I hated Nirupa Roy’s character particularly *because* she was so rigid. (Of course, that she was hurting Amitabh Bachchan made me hate her all the more! 🙂 )

      I truly do not see the mutual accusation-guilt factor in, either. I just see one as so rigid she’d much rather break rather than bend, and the other as making it to be Dharmyudh, and still feeling guilty about it. Deewar is possibly my favourite Amitabh movie, though I cannot watch it without crying at the end. (Yes, even now.) There was a time when it seemed like Amitabh was dying in every single film!

    • dharamgaram

      May 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      On Neetu, I would tend to disagree. Ravi specifically says that he doesn’t want a sifarish ki naukri. He even thanks Neethu’s father in the movie for NOT recommending him. So I don’t think it was cliche.

  16. Shashi

    May 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    BTW, Harvey, just wanted to let you know that my next set of songs for Great Indian Talent are up for grabs on you tube 🙂

    Click on my name and you will see one of those.

  17. Songs Of Yore

    May 20, 2012 at 7:45 am

    @Harvey, Anu Warrier

    I am back on the question of Amitabh Bachchan dying in every single film. One dying I don’t agree with is Sholay. If Dharmendra had Hema Malini, Amitabh had Jaya Bhaduri. Mid-70’s widow remarriage was not such a shocking idea, especially when the two fathers Sanjeev Kumar and Iftekhar had agreed. Another problem with Amitabh Bachchan’s dying is that while alive, he is great with his silences, suddenly in death scenes he starts speaking too much!

    Another thought that occurs in the context of Sholay is the three most memorable words ever spoken in films Kitne aadmi the. Hollywood’s best Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn is nowhere close. 🙂

    • harveypam

      May 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Basically, I think Amitabh’s dying in Sholay was not necessary per se, but it does add a certain poignancy to the film. I for myself, would have like the aspect of widow-remarriage in the film.

    • Shashi

      May 21, 2012 at 6:29 am

      Changing the pre-climax did occur to Ramesh Sippy when Sholay was declared a flop by the so-called experts in its initial weeks. But when the collections started to rise, he abandoned the idea.

      And I agree with you. His death wasn’t necessary. But I think Ramesh added that to increase the “anger quotient” in the viewers. Which may have added to Gabbar Singh’s role as the most unforgettable debut in the history of Indian Cinema….

      There’s a joke doing rounds about those three memorable words. I believe that was the first question Gabbar asked his mom immediately after his birth. ROTFL !!

      No offense meant to anyone, but just couldn’t stop myself…..

      • harveypam

        May 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

        I didn’t know about Sippy’s wish to change the climax. And agree with you on the necessity to increase the anger-quotient.
        But I find the joke in a very bad-taste. 😦 although no offense was meant on your side.

    • Anu Warrier

      May 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      AK, I didn’t agree with Amitabh dying in *any* film. 🙂 Amitabh is on record as wanting to have lived in the film, precisely because of the widow re-marriage issue. (A far cry from when he *wanted* to die in Namak Haram.) The death scene in Sholay never fails to bring a lump into my throat, though I’ve been known, on repeated viewings, to excoriate Dharmendra – “Use your own coin, idiot! If he keeps winning the bets all the time, isn’t it time you changed the GD coin?” 🙂

      And yes, SJ, Amitabh and Ramesh Sippy did hole up in a hotel room after the initial box-office reports; they were going to fly the unit down to location to reshoot the ending, only Ramesh Sippy seems to have had more faith in his film than the others. He asked them to wait the weekend – and events proved him right.

      • harveypam

        May 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm

        “A far cry from when he *wanted* to die in Namak Haram”

        ““Use your own coin, idiot! If he keeps winning the bets all the time, isn’t it time you changed the GD coin?””
        It surely gets to you, doesn’t it?
        It happens to me everytime I watch Otello, I feel like shouting at him, it is just a bloody handkerchief, you idiot or to Desdemona: “Stand up for yourself, woman!”
        Good that Sippy had faith in himself!

        • Anu Warrier

          May 22, 2012 at 3:28 am

          Harvey, LOL. So true about Othello. Of all Shakespeare’s heroines, it is Desdemona and Ophelia who make me want to commit murder, suicide or both. But Iago. He’s such a fantastic character study. A villain who has no motive for his villainy. Which is the reason why I *hated* Vishal Bharadwaj’s (a director I adore) Langda Tyagi (a role that Saif was absolutely wonderful in) – because he *gave* his Iago a reason for his villainy!

          Apropos of nothing: Have you read a book called ‘I, Claudius’?

          • harveypam

            May 22, 2012 at 9:31 am

            Well, Iago does have a reason for his villainy, doesn’t he?
            Racism, Jealousy and Envy, I would say. He is jealous that he doesn’t get promoted. Iago ko parmotion nahin mila!

            No, I haven’t read ‘I, Claudius’! Harvey wants to know more!

            • Anu Warrier

              May 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm

              Harvey, no. Shakespeare’s Iago is frightening precisely because he has no motive. The ‘jealous because he wasn’t promoted’ was Vishal Bharadwaj’s Iago. You want to see a much more chilling adaptation, get your hands on a Malayalam film called Kaliyattam.

              I, Claudius is a fantastic biography of the Roman Emperor, Claudius. Or perhaps I should call it a fictional autobiography. Very well written, historically accurate (based on the real emperor’s autobiography) and a stunning deposition on liberty and idealism versus stability and imperialism. The author is Robert Graves.

              Actually, this would fit in very well with Madhu’s post on adaptations – the BBC serial based on the book was brilliant.

              • harveypam

                May 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

                i will have to go through Shakespeare’s Othello again. I know iago much more from Verdi’s opera Otello, which also is quite a masterpiece. in that as well, he sings an ode to the evil in his famous credo.
                Robert Graves: I, Claudius, he? Will have to look it up. 🙂 Thanks, Anu!

      • Shashi

        May 24, 2012 at 6:28 am

        I think that fake coin coerced Dharmendra to become more angry. He directed his anger on Amitabh towards Gabbar. That throwing away of the coin proves that.

        • harveypam

          May 24, 2012 at 7:52 am

          Well, Iwon’t say that he was Angry with Amitabh, but it bonded them more than ever, thus making him more furious towards Gabbar in general. AND it adds lots of drama!

  18. zemarnah

    July 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Very perceptive discussion on this site, more than is usual for this film I think. I particularly like your insightful comments about Ravi. I empathise more with his character and situation now than I used to, maybe that’s something to do with the fact that I’m also struggling to find a job at the moment! – but really he’s caught between his mother and brother both of whom are so much more inflexible than he is, the one extremely pious, and the other extremely headstrong – while he vacillates between idealism and realism and is eventually forced to accept both.

    About Veera: I don’t agree with one of the comments above that she is ‘dispensable’: she’s a nice ordinary young woman who forms a relationship with a nice ordinary young man, although it’s true she is in part a plot device to get Ravi introduced to the police world, and she might be less of a striking character than Anita but I don’t think she’s insigificant, and both she and Anita provide genuine emotional support for their men.

    Some other things: some of the comments above about gold smuggling in that era are very illuminating, and the stimulating medical discussion about the nature of Vijay’s gunshot wound, got me thinking (that’s what comes of having medical doctors in the family, too!) of course this being a Bollywood melodrama it’s not concerned with finer medical details but I think you CAN die of a shoulder wound, certainly in the absence of prompt medical treatment, might have severed an artery or something. I never thought the bullet travelled from left side to right either, when he’s making his way up the the temple steps it doesn’t look like he really has any weakness on the right side, only on the left. Yes, I know I have too much time to think about this lol. But more importantly, I think he dies more from psychical rather than physical wounds, as someone remarks above, by that time he has really nothing left to live for. That’s why he doesn’t just drive himself to a hospital either!

    Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed reading all the discussion on what I think remains one of the relatively few really noteworthy Bollywood flicks. (I’m just sorry I didn’t get here when the discussion was in full spate, but better late than never I guess). Sometimes, when I’m watching this film, it does come across as fairly formulaic melodramatic fare, on the surface (especially when the weepy violins start up in the background) but although it does broadly follow this pattern it subverts it at almost every turn. And when it’s over I’m left with a thousand images and ideas and issues kicking around in my head, which for me is the mark of a truly great film.

  19. harveypam

    July 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Welcome to my blog, Zemarnah!
    I am glad you liked the review. It encourage sme to write more film-reviews.
    You have put Ravi’s position in the story quite well with your words. He has to act as mediator between maa and Vijay.
    And therefore I agree with you more on Veera, because she is the one acts as an anchor for Ravi. It is with her that he finds real peace in life.
    And what strikes me now is her name is the reverse of his name: Ra Vi and Vi Ra!
    Thanks to this discussion with you, I came upon it.

    I agree with you on Vijay’s death as well. Poor thing he really doesn’t have much to live for now, where he has lost everything.

    “And when it’s over I’m left with a thousand images and ideas and issues kicking around in my head, which for me is the mark of a truly great film.”
    How right you are! A film is good, when it doesn’t leave you even when you have left the cinema house or turned off your DVD player!

    Thanks Zemarnah! It is great to discuss films with you!

  20. Gayatri

    August 15, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Hi, Pramod,
    I see that you are doing well for yourself. It is very late at night that I stumbled upon your blog. I will definitely read all of your contents.

    • harveypam

      August 15, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      Hey Gayatri!
      Nice to see that you have discovered my blog as well. Am curious what you think about my posts!

  21. Gayatri

    August 18, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Hi, Pramod,
    I am impressed! I knew you had a good command over the English Language (I remember a conversation between you and Father Verghese in the Botany lab :)), but this is really good. And you have really studied the movie well. Kudos to you. (I will take more time off and read the rest of your posts, I promise.)

    • harveypam

      August 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you Gayatri!
      Good command over the English language? That used to be once!
      Thanks for your kind words!
      looking forward to what you have to say about the other posts!

      • Gayatri

        August 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm

        You are just being humble, my dear bro!

        • harveypam

          August 18, 2012 at 10:06 pm

          Then I won’t say anything, otherwise it will sound like as if I’m fishing for compliments!

  22. zemarnah

    August 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Harvey, thank you for the warm welcome. I will be checking out this blog every so often!
    Another thought that floated into my mind about this film. In a film replete with baddies, who would you say is the worst of them all? In my mind it’s Anand’s boss, he’s really responsible for precipitating the entire tragedy of the Verma family – but he’s never brought to book for his crimes at all. In a more conventional melodrama he would have been. Like in Zanjeer, for instance.

    • harveypam

      August 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Thank you zemarnah!
      It is difficult to decide on one baddy, who is the worst. One can just put them in context of the family. For the family in question it is surely the mine-owner. But similar crimes must have been perpetrated by each villain and also Vijay.
      I think Salim-Javed’s focus was more on the society and the system, which allows such crimes to happen and devastate the lives of human beings. They were criticising the system, which alienates a mother from her son and a brother from brother.
      It IS indeed a sad end to the story, where the system remains intact and its victims go on suffering and have only their pride and honour to console their grief.

  23. zemarnah

    August 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    yes, social critique is such an important part of this film, but at the same time it doesn’t get bogged down in rhetoric about the evils of the system – it keeps the action going.
    I think you could say the film intertwines three genres – hard-hitting social drama, expansive family melodrama and taut gangster thriller, and does so seamlessly. That’s quite an achievement.
    Anyway I’ll wander off now and see what else I can comment on..

    • harveypam

      August 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      You are right it hasn’t put high-fly dialogues about the social evils, it subtly puts it forward and lets the viewer make his own opinion.
      You have put it quite well in your words that it is mixture of three genres. I never thought of it that way, but you are right! Thanks for that insight.


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