Thursday, November 29, 2012
594. Deewaar/The Wall (1975)
Running Time: 172 minutes
Directed By: Yash Chopra
Written By: Javed Akhtar, Salim Khan
Main Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Nirupa Roy, Neetu Singh, Parveen Babi
With only one Bollywood film under my belt, I went into "Deewaar" with very low expectations. Actually, I was dreading the damn thing, because I knew I wouldn't like it and it was nearly three hours. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the film turned out to be really good!
The plot is long and somewhat complicated so, as always when that's the case, I'll fill in the main points and get on with my opinions. The film begins with a police officer accepting an award and inviting his mother onstage to accept it with him. We then flashback to a family - a father, mother and two sons - with the father involved in a labor strike. When his family is threatened, Anand Verma, the spokesman for the laborers, has no choice but to sign away the rights of his fellow laborers and be shunned from the town as a result. When Anand runs away from his troubles, his wife, Sumitra (Roy) raises her two children, Vijay (Bachchan) and Ravi (Kapoor), with very little money, taking on any job she can to support her sons. When he's old enough, Vijay agrees to go to work too, so that he and his mother can put Ravi through school. We then flash forward to the future, with the two sons grown up and taking very different paths. Vijay finds himself involved in the criminal underworld of smuggling and Ravi decides to go through police training. While Ravi is away at police training, Vijay rises through the ranks of the criminal hierarchy, becoming a big time boss. When Ravi returns to Bombay as an active duty police officer, he is immediately given the task of bringing Vijay to justice, something that he struggles with.
There were good and bad things about "Deewaar" and, as usual, we'll kick things off with the negatives. I thought the film, for the most part, was a gem, however, it did run a little on the long side. THE BOOK notes that normal Bollywood films have six to ten musical numbers, while "Deewaar" only has three. At first, I wasn't crazy about the musical numbers, wanting to continue seeing the plot unfold and not patient enough to sit through the songs, despite the fact that they were well done numbers. However, after a while, I realized that some more musical breaks would've done this film good, serving to break up the action and give the audience a little respite. The film is also a bit too melodramatic, but, there were even times when that didn't bother me that much. I was able to get over it quickly and let the melodrama unfold and swallow it easily. The ending, with Vijay dying in his mother's arms, was perhaps the most over the top acting in the entire picture, but it still worked and none of the actors overdid it, they simply put on powerful, bold performances. The script could've also benefited if they'd cemented the relationship between the brothers a little more, when they were boys. When we get to the end and Ravi's chase for Vijay, it comes off as less powerful, because their relationship was never really, fully established as a solid one.
On the other hand, the plot was great and "Deewaar" made me realize what an untapped market I have in Bollywood cinema. How many other great Bollywood pictures have gone unseen by my eyes, I wonder? We've seen the feuding brothers storyline done to death before, since 1975 and "Deewaar", but Yash Chopra does that same old storyline his own way and manages to make it original, intense, interesting and powerful. As noted above, the acting is good to great all around with Amitabh Bachchan getting top acting honors, in this viewers opinion. It's worth noting that my only other Bollywood experience, "The Brave-Hearted Will Take the Bride" was directed by Aditya Chopra, Yash Chopra's son.
RATING: 7.5/10 An '8' seems to high, at this point, but I could see this rating going up. The entire film is currently available via YouTube and although it may be a small thing, I think I would've enjoyed the film even more if I wouldn't have had to watch it via my uncomfortable computer chair, sitting up at my desk.
MOVIES WATCHED: 594
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 407
November 29, 2012 2:15am
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