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Amitabh Bachchan's consistent superlative performances even as film quality dipped through the late seventies and all through the eighties is another story. But among those rare bunch of cinematic triumphs that Amitabh Bachchan will be remembered for, Deewar stands out, colossal.
A trade union leader is forced to go on the run, so that his family's life is not endangered. To make ends meet, his stranded wife and children rough it out on ruthless, heartless Mumbai streets. While one son Ravi, grows up to be righteous, Vijay's quiet rebellion silently simmers within, seeking outlet.
Deewaar was released on January 24, 1975, barely seven months before Sholay. Even then, 'two brothers-either side of the law-confrontation' was not a new theme to Hindi films.Notably, Mother India (1957) and Ganga Jamuna (1961) had similar main plots.The former gave the mother centre stage, the latter focused on fate making a dacoit vs police officer standoff between siblings.
Intense, memorable drama
What makes Deewaar a compelling watch, 40 years on, is its urban landscape of inequality, unemployment, poverty, dissatisfaction and greed for power.That lopsided landscape still rots our cities, more than ever. Salim-Javed are in top form here. Their studied yet entertaining dialogues still stand the test of time.
Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay is the mapped face of an endless generation, for whom money is the ultimate push to buy happiness, if only in vain. Shashi Kapoor as Ravi is as relevant in his principled, straight path. But we fall for Vijay, oh so easily. His turbulence to not make peace with the past, to constantly conflict it with the present, echoes deep within. For all the bravado, Vijay is a vulnerable caged bird, in dire need of solace and love.
The female roles still feel modern-day, especially Parveen Babi's independent woman. To a mitigated extent, Neetu Singh's carefree girl is cool too. Nirupa Roy's mother of all mothers, represents a timeless moral, rooted core. An iconic Hindi film classic you can't miss.