Monthly Archives: April 2016

EYE IN THE SKY

 

 

Eye In the Sky is such a crafty and intelligent movie that it manages to convey philosophical musings on war and state-craft in a thriller- format with hardly any reel devoted to philosophical discussions on the same! This is a movie then that should not be missed at any cost. The movie unfolds guised as an edge-of-the-seat thriller with so many emotions encapsulating age-old discussions on wars, their futility or more-so, their necessity in the geo-political world as we know now where legal and moral discussions take heated turns across seas, oceans, deserts, countries and continents.

 

A covert drone operation is the order of the day near Nairobi, Kenya where 3 Islamist extremists who are on the Most Wanted Lists of Britain, the US, and Kenya are presently stationed. The eyes-in-the-sky (and of course also the actual drone-operators) are ensconced in Creech air-base in Las Vegas, Nevada; the Colonel commanding them is somewhere in Sussex, her over-seers including her military superior (a subdued and superbly detached Alan Rickman – his last outing) and a minister and attorney in London (British government over-seers); the English foreign-secretary is in Singapore peddling arms and ‘protective’ gears for soldiers, the American foreign-secretary is in China playing ping-pong with a group of God-knows-why-over-awed Chinese men: And at the center of this tragi-comic circus is an East-African girl-child selling bread unbeknownst that her life is hanging by an invisible thread running across all these inter-continental touch-points. The narrative-arc then plays out on the decision of Go/No-Go with regard to the drone-attack on the extremists’-haven unfortunately nestled right next to the girl’s home (her father, a bi-cycle repairer and her mother, a home-maker complete her family) And along this arc, the film masterfully takes the audience along in its thrilling moments and discerningly laid-out philosophical toppings on the actors, their actions, and the consequences of ‘decision-making.’

 

Among many such brilliant scenes is the one where the Colonel (Mirren) is faced with legalities and ‘moralities.’ (Quite symbolic; she has a legal representative to protect her and the child of disastrous consequences but there isn’t any ‘moral’ advisor; morality, ladies and gentlemen, is your own personal baggage.) Her verbal back-and-forth with the legal-advisor is top-notch. Also fantastic are the scenes conveying the tension housed in what the Americans are proud to call the ‘situation’ room; this time, however, the room is in England & the situation is in East Africa. Any change in the situation on ground in Nairobi mandates discussions and ‘approvals’ from higher-ups as minutes and seconds could mark the difference between two suicide-bombers blowing themselves and the world according to them and around them and its prevention with, of course, a necessitated collateral damage. Symbolism is powerful here: The American foreign-secretary gets a call when he is on a tour in China asking for his approval since one of the extremists is an American citizen but he is busy playing ping-pong and is flustered at being disturbed with ‘such’ a call! That ‘ping-pong’ ball being poorly smashed around is the life of a kid in a ‘third-world’ country for God’s sake! That also reflects the inability of those-in-power in taking decisions and getting along by passing the buck. The British foreign-secretary, after getting food-poisoned, is busy taking a ‘dump’ in a whatever-star hotel when scenes are inter-cut with drone-operators readying their weapons to target, in essence, taking a drone-dump onto one of the poor neighbor-hoods in a poor country! The father of the girl plays a dual role; an open-minded man who wants his daughter to study and be a million-miles away from Sharia-enforced lands and also of a bread-winner who but has to repair bi-cycles belonging to Sharia-lovers or Sharia-haters. (He hides her school-books when a customer comes along lest word breaks out that he is encouraging his daughter getting educated and mockingly admonishes her when she is lost in child-hood and plays hula hoop in front of that same Sharia-loving customer.) What happens to these folks when, an ‘objective’ drone plunders their lives? Will the same person STILL call Al-Shabab and its members fanatics? What has that ‘surgical’ strike achieved if this man were to turn to the other side or be radicalized? When numerical counts of 8 versus 80 are taken with regard to casualties and ‘greater’ damage and decisions are made, what are the consequences of those decisions?

 

All actors are in top form. Helen Mirren plays an unflinching military commander Katherine Powell to the extent that the audience shouldn’t be judged if they mutter ‘cold-hearted bitch’ – watch her talking to the ‘damage’ estimator and influencing him to somehow bring down the percentage of collateral damage to below 50% to get a legal clearing for the strike — under their breaths. (There is a very subtle, bubbling-under-the-surface hint of race-awareness in scenes where she is negotiating with the damage-estimator about cutting down the percentage of collateral damage. He is black, and possibly from Africa. Either way, Mirren talks to him quite differently even when she is practically ordering him to fudge numbers. There is something weighing on her mind when she is negotiating with him; both with regard to the unhealthy but arguably mandated necessity of cutting down the percentage, but maybe more so since she is talking with a black man about fudging numbers so she could get ‘legal’ clearance to bomb an African city’s neighborhood! Alan Rickman as Lt General Benson is superb in conveying a sense of urgency, detachment, and an embodiment of years of military-hardened exterior. Barkhad Abdi who stunned audiences as the Somalian pirate in Captain Phillips convincingly plays the mindful ground-operative. The actors playing members of the UK government are equally effective. Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox as novices being forced to look at targets and innocent civilians BEFORE and AFTER drone-strikes for hours-on-end convey their frustrations and tumult of emotions finely. And the girl at the center of it all, Aisha Takow’s Alia Mo’Allim, effectively conveys the symbolism of life being caught between the devil and not-so-deep sea.

 

Are we know destined to live with the fact that murder or death – depending on which side you are on – by numbers is the new modern-warfare reality? Who wins? And who wins fast and first? Do the breads sell fast or do the bombs blow earlier or the drone hell-fire missile strikes sooner? Who is the decision-maker? What has greater weight: The mathematical, surgical precision of a drone or the moral ambiguity of the human?

Quotes:

Angela: What you have done sitting in your chair is just disgraceful.

Benson: What you have seen just now sitting on your chair when dipping biscuits in your tea is what I have experienced as a General being on the ground and seeing the aftermath of 5 terrorist bombings. So NEVER tell a soldier that he cannot and doesn’t understand the cost of war.

Benson to the minister: You tell us to go to war. We go and do our business. YOU deal with the aftermath.
1st published at  http://www.bollybrit.com/reviews-blog/film-review-eye-in-the-sky#f3vORvjjgJMJXcO1.99

FAN/SRK/GAURAV/ARYAN/FAN

FAN is a movie that sucks you in only to spit you out with a stronger reflux. It has many things going for it and would have had many, many more things had the makers decided not to take a detour mid-way; or at least, keep the detour to a minimum. One can read FAN as a reflection and celebration of ‘The Inner World of Shah Rukh Khan’ and ‘The Entire World of a Shah Rukh fan.’

Throughout, there are references galore to the journey of SRK from Delhi to ‘Deewana’ to ‘Main Hoon Na’ to dancing-at-weddings. They are peppered throughout and are up for grabs for those that can connect and relate to them. There are many directorial flourishes here. Maneesh Sharma gets together with a superstar having his origins in Delhi – and of course the one who wears it on his sleeve—and provides a thoughtful glimpse into manic fandom of a middle-class star-struck fan, financially content running a cyber-cafe.[There is a finely staged fight-scene between SRK and a few colony-bullies in the initial scenes. Does this remind you of SRK’s constant ‘दिल्ली का लड़का हूँ; हाथ पैर घूमाके फ़ैसला सुनाना आता हैं|’ harking?]   The star SRK’s alter-ego is named Aryan Khanna {Aryan is SRK’s son’s name; take out the ‘na’ in Khanna it becomes a Khan}. SRK’s spirit and life hover ALL along the film and the director merely channels the spirit into a character-superstar and a character-fan: In the sense that in many emotive moments of the fan, you see the SRK of yore when he was weaving himself into becoming a syllabus for obsessive roles; and in the many moments of the super-star Aryan Khanna, you see Shah Rukh Khan the star. The film starts off with a shot of DEEWANA and as the credits and age of the fan proceed, it stops somewhere at the fag end of ‘90s. The rest of SRK’s journey is conveyed smartly against a project-screen with Gaurav Chandana, the die-hard SRK fan, re-living SRK’s trade-mark moves for the Dusshera audience – and winning the trophy year-after-year— in Inder Vihar, Delhi. The film then basically takes it forward from where  Amitabh  and Kashyap’s ‘Murraba’ ended. Amitabh gets the Murabba [here Gaurav gets sweets from a famous Delhi eatery] in ‘Bombay Talkies’ and the fan is convinced and happy irrespective of the difficulties endured. Here, the fan ‘considers’ himself rejected since the star doesn’t even give a hoot about giving 5 seconds of his life to his fan – let alone 5 minutes.

After landing in Bombay—even Gaurav’s first-time-in-Bombay is handled uniquely; there are obviously lustrous shots of the Bandra-Worli sea-link, the Taj, the Flora Fountain  but, but, the back-ground music is almost comical, as though laughing at the obstinacy of Gaurav’s journey to meet his idol. Gaurav gets involved in an episode when he takes it upon himself to teach a lesson to a ‘young’, up-coming ‘Kapoor’ actor who is hell-bent on taking legal action against Aryan Khanna since he slapped him in a party [Kunder-gate anyone?]. Oh by the way, Aryan slapped him since he had the guts to flirt with his wife after drinking expensive red wine at his home! [Amitabh/Khalid anyone?]. Gaurav is expecting Aryan to be thrilled but is heart-broken when he realizes that his idol is the one who gets him imprisoned and beaten. Their meeting at a police station is one of the most thrilling moments in this film – albeit the best and arguably, the last one. SRK is great as Aryan and Gaurav in this scene. You see a ‘stardom-weary’ SRK explaining ‘practicalities’ to Gaurav. But Gaurav is just ecstatic upon meeting his idol only to realize soul-crushingly that Aryan, too, is capable of insensitivity and lying— Gaurav gets up and imitates Aryan and paraphrases one of his kiss-and-thumbs-up routine comments: फँस हैं तो मैं हूँ; फँस नहीं तो मैं नही; in other words, being human {jeez; Salman Bhai coming into play here—too much meta in this film}—as the star explains in the penultimate scene. The fact that Aryan isn’t willing to consider even 5 minutes of his life for a ‘fan’ crushes him and Gaurav just drowns his life into an OCD of ‘fan versus the star.’ From here, the film just ventures onto the thriller format and that proves to be its downfall. All the ‘meta’ is butchered at the feet of this literal genre-jump and all that lies next is the cat-and-mouse game between a fan and a star with disastrous consequences.

And here is where the film’s irrecoverable fault-line lies. If the intention of having a VFXed SRK at 50 play a 25 year old is NOT just a visual trick in a book but to go meta [is a fan but a reflection of the star?], why change tracks mid-way and maneuver unintelligently into  the thriller track? The problem with the film jumping onto the thriller track is that the entire novelty, philosophically, of having a look-alike is kind of defeated! Replace Gaurav with a character that doesn’t look like SRK and the thriller element STILL works. You don’t really need an Aryan Khanna look-alike—yes of course, I understand it aids the ‘thriller’ parts where one can impersonate another but to what end? [By the way, Korean action directors and teams have handled the action here – so one can guess the importance given to the action and thriller element here]. And I am not even going into the debatable ludicrousness of this cyber-shop owner from Inder Vihar being able to take on police officers in Bombay or being an excellent fighter or making calls on burner cells or getting in and out of countries that would make him as stealthy as Jason Bourne. This part, I am quite happy to dismiss as incidental to the plot and focus solely on the dynamics between a superstar and an obsessed fan.

As I said before, there are fine garnishments in this movie worth savoring. On a call with his parents, Gaurav superbly conveys his disappointment by just saying that there is an ocean of humans between Aryan’s Mannat and him; his shouts and words travel, but never reach there. [It’s only the fan standing next to him realizes and hears the ‘intensity’ in his voice.] There is a laugh-out-loud scene where Kapoor, the Hindi film-actor is asked to read a letter at knife-point and he sheepishly replies, ‘Dude, this is in Hindi.’ Hilarious! There is subversion here where a Hindi film ‘hero’ is made to look like a, well, a coward when faced with a real-life threat. [Remember RGV’s Company? The 6-packed ‘Khan’ seeking police-protection and cowering in-the-face-of underworld threats?]. Gaurav’s exuberance and enthusiasm when embarking on his trip to meet Aryan is infectious. He tells his Dad not to pack many underwears since there would hardly be any time to change them! There are Delhi-isms galore and really fun. ‘खाना खाने थोड़े ही जा रहा हूँ? मैं तो झहप्पी देने जा रहा हूँ!’ says Gaurav when asked about food. ‘हाँ आप स्टेज पे बोल दो और सारा सियापा ख़तम कर दो’| says his father to Aryan. In the scene where Gaurav lands up in front of Mannat the first time, he tries to get in by taking a selfie with the security guard and then explains how he is ‘different’ from social-networking fans by enacting a couple of scenes from Aryan/SRK’s movies. He enacts, but the security guard just goes about his job. That’s a fine scene conveying that the world goes on in a tangent for SRK/Aryan and his employees, but for Gaurav, the world starts and stops in Aryan’s movies. In one of the scenes, Aryan says that he will deal with things himself as he has done ALL his life since the fan is getting unruly [reference to ‘outsider’, no-Godfather SRK anyone?].

SRK is in his elements as both the super-star and the fan. The exuberance of the fan versus the worldliness of the super-star is quite nicely conveyed by him. One gold-standard take-away from this film is that SRK has just bared himself as a super-star in this movie. He lets you in into what it means be SRK-the superstar: Not Amitabh the super-star; not Rajnikanth the super-star; not Salman, not Aamir, not Dilip Kumar. SRK the super-star doesn’t hesitate to dance at business-men’s daughter’s weddings. The business-man is rude and admonishes him that superstars like him take everything for granted, they hey come late; they think the world of themselves, blah, blah. “I am paying you a bomb. You better make it worth”, says the business-tycoon. Aryan simply takes in the insult and replies, ‘Of course you are the one who can pay the bomb! You won’t regret it.” He then goes about mechanically dancing and pleasing the wedding guests. This is what I meant by SRK – the superstar. He is just announcing: This is me; I dance at weddings for money. I am ‘sankhi.’ I use foul language. Deal with it.

The VFX is patchy [buck-tooth visible in some scenes; absent elsewhere]. In some scenes, it is clearly repulsive when in others, it comes out quite well. The film is technically very savvy – except as mentioned, for junior SRK’s prosthetic [Jr/Sr – Abhishek/Amitabh anyone?].

The only question is – at what point does the fan in this film’s fit to be considered a medical disorder? At what point do you take a Rajnikanth’s ‘fan’ to the hospital? After he burns himself or lays on a track thanks to him not getting a 1st day 1st show 1st seat ticket to a new movie or before? At what point would one consider a fan ‘certifiable’? Or can than even be considered?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEEWAR

Deewar, after 40 years, stands not just as a symbolic representation of the wall between the good and not-so-good depicted in the film but one that has been firmly entrenched between the masala-laden, rich, ‘epic-driven’ story-telling that was the hall-mark of the ‘70s/early ‘80s and the multiplex-pleasing, Hollywood-bastardized story-telling of present times.

The movie is a marvel and a testimony to those nerve-centers of movie-making process as an art-form; the heart in the art, the might in the pen, and lastly, the technique in story-telling. Right from that scene when Anand Babu [the father] talks not of any labor laws or any specific industrial or ergonomically-stamped laws but of the fact that in any society that wants to be invoked as decent, it’s vulgar to have the rich-folks’/owners’ vases decorated with fresh-flowers every day while the miners’ houses remain stenched with baasi roti, it is quite clear that the objective and core of Salim Khan-Javed Akhtar’s fantastic writing is to paint the celluloid with news-of-the-period using the broad-strokes format of story-telling that is intrinsic to the great epics of Mahabharat and the Ramayana.
Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in Deewar

That the kids named Vijay and Ravi Verma actually look up to the father and his principles primarily and secondarily to the unconditional love of the mother is established in the early scenes of the movie. Vijay [Amitabh Bachchan] is the one that is most influenced and affected by the principles-invested life of his father while Ravi [Shashi Kapoor] is the one who is smarter, wiser, and emotionally-intelligent in absorbing the good and the bad and more importantly, more acceptant of the current social-structure. Hence, it is Vijay who is more-than-willing, almost compulsively so, to subvert the status-quo at the Bombay docks and thence extrapolating it to the society in general. He is the one that bucks the system by refusing to pay extortion; by refusing to accept loose change thrown on the ground after shoe-shining a couple of race-crazy aristocrats. Contrastingly, Ravi is quite happy and influenced by SAARE JAHAN SE ACCHA HINDUSTAN HAMARA [1] — even when SAARE JAHAN is not actually ACCHA for one and all – regurgitated almost mechanically by school-going kids close to the bridge under which the unlucky have stitched-up a meagre existence.

Vijay is quite content letting his and his mother’s sweat-drenched money be used for Ravi’s education. He doesn’t really either believe in, or wish for an education that only underscores the societal status-quo. It is only later that Ravi gets a shot of what status-quo is about when he keeps losing jobs thanks to influences [so strong that hiring managers get sweaty fore-heads during phone-talk] and rampant corruption among the office-class.

I keep referring to Salim-Javed’s brilliant screenplay for Deewar. Initially, after Anand Babu’s forced betrayal of the labor class, when Vijay is forcibly tattooed ‘मेरा बाप चोर हैं’, [2] there is a fine pre-cursor to this scene. A drunk meanders along and wants his ‘darling’s’ name imprinted on his hand, to which, the tattoo – artist replies, ‘नशा तो उतर जाएगा; नाम ज़िंदगी भर रह जाएगा|’. [3]  And that continues to haunt and drive Vijay’s life through-out: the fate of his father branded onto his fore-arm, his conscience and extendedly, his whole life.

When the grown-up Ravi asks his mother as to what she pleads/prays to the Gods every day, she has but a simple and unadulterated answer: ‘Happiness for you; Peace for Vijay.’ Right there, is the magic of word-play; the mother KNOWS what strikes at the heart of her sons. Ravi needs happiness; while Vijay needs peace: Peace and redemption from a past where he is troubled with his father’s ‘betrayal’ of his own principles. Does one really need a shrink there? When one has the unbeatable advantage of a mother that understands every troubled heart-beat of her sons?

“to re-iterate that the film is littered with clap-worthy lines would but just be an under-statement…”

One of the key scenes – a ‘fight’ scene – in the movie is the one where Vijay takes on single-handedly (below) – the extortionist and his bunch of goons in a stock-room. Amitabh sitting on a chair brusquely waiting and then telling the goons, ‘Peter, you guys are searching me all over and I am right here, waiting for you,’ is one of the most defining moments of Indian cinema; if not more, for sure akin to De Niro’s ‘You talking to me’ scene or Hoffman’s, ‘Hey I am walkin’ here, I am walkin’ here!’ In that one scene, Amitabh conveys a text-book gamut of masculinity, of a survivor, of an outlier, of a ruffian-by-force that has yet to be bettered by ANY actor on the Indian screen. [And of course, a sharp precursor to this iconic scene is the one where Amitabh sits right beneath a portrait of Gandhi sipping tea from a saucer-plate and tells his compatriot Rahim Chacha, ’Tomorrow another coolie will refuse to pay the 2 rupee extortion fee’, conveying an ever-elongating distance between Gandhi’s principles and the resultant of ‘unrest’ in the Indian proletariat of the time, the ‘70s.]

 

 

Amitabh’s Vijay decides to join Dawar’s [Ifthekar’s] smuggling business. [There is a fine, metaphorically underscored scene where both Vijay and Ravi are shown destined to walk different paths in life and in principle when they walk to their respective ‘duties’ at an acute angle to each other from that influential, over-arching,  intersection point at the temple stairs; their mother.] –  The supreme confidence and irrationality of Amitabh’s Vijay is superbly conveyed in many scenes throughout. Let’s take one subtle scene: During the ‘round-table’ discussion hatching out a plan to out-wit the rival smuggler Samant [Madan Puri] when Vijay says, he knows he is the one that can get the job done, notice the seating-arrangement; there is Dawar at one end of the table, and Vijay is sitting bang-opposite him, alone; all others are sitting on the side, together, in cooped-up positions. It is only Vijay and Dawar that are symbolically lone; charting unique paths. Dawar then warns Vijay, ‘You will have both Samant and the cops after you.’ Vijay replies,’ दावर सब, मेरे पीछे तो सिर्फ़ मेरी किस्मत होगी|’ [4]   Or another gem when Samant, whom Vijay has, frankly speaking, double-crossed, calls up Vijay to warn him that this act would cost him, Vijay simply replies nonchalantly, ‘में दुश्मनी मोल लेता हूँ तो सस्ते महेंगे की परवाह नहीं करता’. [5] To re-iterate that the film is littered with such clap-worthy lines would but just be an under-statement.

Amitabh’s Vijay – whose character always seems to promulgate an authorial and allegorical representation of outliers—meets an escort-woman [Parveen Babi] whose real name would turn out to be Anita but could be exchanged and renamed as per the whims and fantasies of her clientele. These both become emotionally clutched to each other in a way not comprehensible to the ‘normal’ societal standards. Their closeness is surprisingly candid – and so tangible – for the story-arc; Vijay is just shown enjoying a post-coital smoke in one of the following scenes! There is hardly any drama, any philosophical or existential lingering – there are just two souls charred by the fire of fate and fueled by societal conflation to accept them as-is.  Now in today’s times, feminists or non-feminists might take umbrage to the fact that Anita’s ultimate redemption, as per her mother, would lie in getting married adorned with a wedding-saree gifted from her mother and not in being a woman of her own terms. But one has to respect the times in the Indian-context; maybe Germaine Greer’s influence was too slow in crossing over the Atlantic onto the shores of Bombay. Anita’s happiness lay in getting married to Vijay and legitimizing a child born-out-of-wedlock, which, alas, is cut-short by Samant’s knife.

 

 

Of course, well before this, the atheist Vijay lands up at the temple not so much imploring as much as demanding the Lord – to spare her mother and not make her pay for sins of the son.

That Salim-Javed have always had a keen mind for literature is evident in that Les Miserables’ Jean Valjean inspired scene— one which was very recently turned into a literal nightmare by the sound and sight of Russel Crowe crowing in Les Miserables — of a person suffering lawful repercussions for stealing a loaf of bread to calm hunger-afflicted family members. This then strengthens Ravi’s resolve to go after his criminal-brother and is finely conveyed through the calmness and clarity of Hangal Saab’s character. [Again, great screenplay: One scene has Vijay moving away from Gandhi’s non-violent principles right under his portrait and one has Ravi coming to terms and understanding Gandhi’s principles of incorruptibility.]

“that salim-javed have always had a keen mind for literature is evident in that les miserables’ jean valjean inspired scene…”

When Ravi is at the hospital praying for his mother’s recovery, he keeps pondering and mentions his girl-friend [Neetu Singh’s Leena] about his mental conflict regarding bringing his blood-brother to ‘judicial’ justice since he is but a sum-total of his father’s blood, his mother’s milk, and his brother’s sweat. She then proceeds to talk about the ‘Gitopadesha’ offered by Lord Krishna to Arjuna. Oh how one wishes Nolan, Caine, and Bale had simply read an abridged version of the Gita..or simply seen Deewar.

That famous scene beneath the memories-plastered bridge is one for the cinematic history-books. Vijay’s general rhetoric about his ‘status’ in life validated by bank-balance, property, cash, cars – which, in today’s wonderful economically-liberated times, would not be acceptable even in a shaadi.com matrimonial and/or a consummated-marriage, or, an alimony before the first year – is met with a self-sufficient and confident Ravi’s, ‘मेरे पास मा है’, [6]  yielding a hammer-strong impact to Vijay and the audiences alike.

Amitabh simply nails the role of Vijay with an inner angst and repression that can only be conveyed by actors with a tremendous understanding of the art-form and the character in-study. Not a single smile, except the wry ones, escapes his lips. He stays in character throughout and never once does he slip. This is a performance for the ages, and one that should be made a pre-requisite watch before giving that first shot for any budding actor – especially the ones that mistake Gold Gym free 1-month trial-membership for a semester at FTII.

“amitabh simply nails the role of vijay with an inner angst and repression that can only be conveyed by actors with a tremendous understanding of the art-form and the character in-study…”

Shashi proves a perfect foil to Amitabh’s intensity. Nirupa Roy as the mother, of course, stands central to the universe of this film, inspite of the towering performance from the lead actor, finely-supplementing Nargis’ character from Mother. Whether it’s her unabashed declaration that she loves Vijay more than Ravi or whether it’s her admonition of Vijay that he isn’t as yet rich to buy-off his mother, she traverses a dangerous line between stereo-type and that innate ‘motherly’ quality that many from the Eastern cultures yearn for and take for granted. And to this end, Amitabh’s Vijay has only two concerns to rid himself of the burden of a character-assassinated father’s history and provide his mother happiness she’s been unjustly robbed of. His clothes, the wine and whisky, the cars, are all but accoutrements without soul: Even the building that he buys for his mother – that which owes its foundation and height to the blood, sweat, tears, and insults of his mother – is but reflected in his shiny goggles. That’s what all the materialistic things mean to him; deserving of being thrown at the feet of his mother. [He even gifts her one small temple in the house!]

Vijay’s badge number at the Bombay docks – 786; a divine number for the Islamic faith – stands not just as a symbolic representation of India’s multi-cultural ethos but a pre-cursor to the many personas Amitabh the actor would go on to embody: From Amar Akbar Anthony or Naseeb to Desh Premee to Coolie, NO other actor continues to evoke the idea of India as intelligently and unequivocally as Amitabh Bachchan, the artist. And as I said before, it’s been over 40 years…

Footnotes:

[1]  Better than the entire world is our nation
[2]  My father’s a thief
[3]  Intoxication will die-down, but the imprint remains
[4]  All that will be chasing me is my fate
[5]  When I strike enmity, I don’t indulge in petty profit and loss statements
[6]  I have mother with/for me

 

First published here – http://www.bollybrit.com/features/revisiting-classics-deewar#Wh4cIDliAcWhEjjW.99