Freeze Frame #28, #29: Deewar

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!

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7 thoughts on “Freeze Frame #28, #29: Deewar

  1. Yves,

    Thanks for dropping by. Nice blog, by the way. You did bring up some interesting points in your article – the parallel with Mother India was one I hadn’t thought of at all. Quite nice!

    Oh, and if you get a chance, check out this movie called Aatish. It’s a Sanjay Gupta movie starring Sanjay Dutt, Atul Agnihotri and Tanuja. You could see it as a generic action movie, and it is very much that, or you could see it as the result of the following question: What if the mom had chosen the criminal over the cop, on the grounds that he did what he had to do in order to give his brother a good life?

    The movie isn’t particularly memorable. But I have a feeling that it had its origins in that specific question.

  2. Yves,

    Aatish means fire. Sometimes, it is used in poetry to mean spirit, as in the fire within. The complete title of the movie, imdb tells me, is Aatish: Feel the fire. You can find the imdb entry here.

  3. Bala says:

    That dialogue of Sivaji Ganesan with Ganesha apart, a more endearing character in that film cannot be found. I can only believe that Parthipan’s character crying at the death fo SIvaji’s character is too real!!

  4. S says:

    Incidentally, I’ve never watched Deewar but seen scenes here and there and am more than familiar with the iconic “Ma” reference (guess that suffices). I have, however, watched and loved Thavani Kanavugal on the big screen (at Babu theatre in Kanchipuram) and remember the Sivaji sequence you reference here. Also, one of my favorite scenes is this quintessentially Bhagyaraj one, but it’s Radhika who really kills it http://youtu.be/Lv-bPv4a08s

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