Deewar, 1975

Deewar (source: uiowa.edu)

Deewar (source: uiowa.edu)

Directed by Yash Chopra

This film is remark-able for several reasons. First, it is a classic example of three genres: the Angry Young Man (portrayed, of course and as usual, by Amitabh Bachchan), family separation (a way for filmmakers to refer to Partition), and two members of a family on opposite sides of the law. Amitabh Bachchan is at his surly best, but at the time of this film he hadn’t quite hit megastardom. Sashi Kapoor is at his mediocre worst, with many of the moments he is supposed to be intense ruined by his overacting, and other moments which are supposed to be poignant ruined by his blank “meaningful” thousand-yard-stare or over-thought facial expressions. The film, like Mother India, succeeds in portraying two equal but opposite ways of growing up to view the world. This is seen in the brother who grows up to honor his father’s sacrificial memory by being upright to a fault, and the other brother growing up to react in what is to him a logical way against the unfair way his father and his family (and himself) were treated because of his father’s sacrifice. The advantages that bosses take of their poor workers is a symbol of the larger cultural issues. The story is fascinating and complex, but I do wish the movie had dug in a little more (or can I blame it all on Sashi’s acting?).

Song Highlights: There are only three songs in this film, and they did not help make the film popular (rare for a Bollywood). Two songs are between the two people in the single happy romantic relationship; one of them is quite lovely. Another song is the typical way of filling up the expected song quota by having a vamp song-and-dance number for the den of bad guys’ viewing pleasure. Aruna Irani does the latter number, which does up the quality (she is the “vamp” type dancer in Bobby). Music by R.D. Burman, lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi

Rating: This film succumbs to many “stereotypes”: sped-up motion during fight scenes, overdone sound effects, switching back and forth between faces during intense scenes (or showing the same face repeatedly from different angles), and very abrupt scene changes. There are still the good things that Bollywood does so well: for example, there is this certain camera move of shooting someone in reflection from above and then moving the camera down to the actual person. There is a stunt where someone is holding onto the top of a car, and the way this is filmed is completely realistic. There are no fancy tricks or CGI or strange ways of getting out of the predicament, all of which is refreshing!

Library Collection: Probably a must for historical purposes, but it is not the most entertaining film on several levels.

© 2009 Jill Wohlgemuth
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About jillbrary

Spirit of the woods
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