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Friday, June 07, 2013

DEEWAR - A FAMILY DIVIDED

Deewar PosterDeewar is a cult film penned by the famous Hindi film script writer duo Salim Khan (father of Salman Khan) and Javed Akhtar (husband of Shabana Azmi), directed by Yash Chopra and released in 1975. As of 2013 it celebrates it's 38th anniversary of unmatched success in the memory of any average Indian cine fan. But the core issue of a family divided by an unseen wall of conflicting values is relevant even today. This post is an unabashed tribute to the Mukunds and Ravis of today who serve their parents with great devotion, tailoring their ambitions and personal life for a greater cause, akin to Ravi Verma of Deewar.

The film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in lead roles as the antagonist and protagonist. Nirupa Roy actually lives her role as the ideal mother unable to bridge their growing wedge. Reflective of the tumultuous politics of the early 70s in India, Deewar unfolds the story of two impoverished brothers who, after their family is betrayed by the misplaced idealism of their father, struggle to survive on the streets of Mumbai. The two brothers, Vijay and Ravi Verma follow different career paths: Vijay is a smuggler and Ravi the policeman who is asked to hunt Vijay down. To make a long story short, the ensuing and escalating engagement between the brothers and a mother torn between her love for both, forms the crux. There is a particular scene in the film where they face-off with powerful dialogues about either standpoint. Ravi finally snubs Vijay that he may have everything else in the world, but not their mother (Mere Paas Maa Hai). The story ponders on the moral, social and legal dilemma that confront brothers who have parted ways not entirely attributable to fate. The incisive questions posed by the film is being faced by every generation.

In spite of the best efforts of Ravi and Sumitra to kick sense into an exasperated, hunted and uncompromising Vijay, the film sadly ends with Vijay being shot at by Ravi during a chase. The climax of the film is the scene where Vijay is lying on the lap of his mother Sumitra and tells her he is very exhausted from all the running away from life and would like to peacefully sleep. I can never watch this particular scene without moist eyes, thanks to the brilliant acting and touching cinematography. The film succeeds in mesmerizing its viewers to empathize with the central characters.

The story provides ample scope for elaboration of the key characters - a mother and her two sons. An unforgettable scene between the mother and her elder son Vijay is when she thunders at him - Who were they that tattooed on your arm? Who were they that disgraced your father? Who were they that insulted your mother? None of them mean anything to you, but you mean the world to me as I am to you. If that be true, then why are you even attempting to purchase my love with your scant riches? Vijay is stunned by the question. Why? Because he is used to his way of life and any compromise to live a standard lower than what he has achieved would be hard for his pride to swallow. He tries to blame God, the society, his social stigma and his painful childhood to hide himself from his true feelings, which is to obey his mother and live together as a family once again. At some point, he is even shown to be willing to give it all up, but cruel fate intervenes and disrupts his plan.

If we look carefully beyond the obvious melodrama, we can draw parallels to our own lives. Some of us are Vijays - torn between filial love/duties and ego/ambitions. Some of us are Ravis - fiercely filial, duty-bound and honest. But most mothers are like Sumitra - torn between her love for a prodigal son and the other who upholds their family ideals to her satisfaction. This film made such a profound impression on me during my adolescence, that I used to imagine myself as Vijay, while my brother would be Ravi. However, I still shudder when viewing the film's tragic climax.

The classic face-off scene from Deewar (click image below):

Brothers split over their mother in Deewar

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