Deewar is, in my opinion, the movie that features the best Amitabh Bachchan performance of all time. It is not that he did not do a better job in any movie before or since – a number of movies come to mind where his performance has been fantastic. But the sort of raw intensity he brought to Deewar was just something I’ve never seen him replicate. Even today, when I see that movie, there are moments that give me the goosebumps.
This is a movie with a number of great scenes, but my pick for the standout scene is pretty much the same as most others’ – the one in the temple, where he goes to pray for his mother’s life for the first time. The arrogance of his posture, the anger with which he starts speaking, and the way it breaks down when he eventually begs for her life… it still moves me to tears.
The other scene I really loved was when he goes to a garage where a bunch of goons who have been looking for him all day are gathered, and beats them up. It’s a standard action scene, and the dialogue that begins it is straightforward. He just says, “You’ve been looking for me all day and here I am, waiting for you.” But what really struck me was how much the lazy drawl in his voice conveyed the kind of man he was.
Most of Amitabh’s blockbusters have been remade in Tamil with Rajnikanth. Deewar became Thee, with Suman in the Shashi Kapoor role. The movie probably did good business, but I found it to be a colossal disappointment. It lacked precisely what its title claimed: Thee (Fire).
Incidentally, I was watching K. Bhagyaraj’s Thavani Kanavugal on TV yesterday and there’s a scene in which Sivaji Ganesan, who plays his crusty old landlord and an army man who has never set foot in a temple, goes to the nearby Ganesha temple to pray for the well-being of his (Bhagyaraj’s) family. And what do you know, the speech is basically a precise translation of Amitabh’s speech in Deewar!