With no husband in the house, I thought this might be the opportunity to pick out one of the longest films that I had left to see for the 1001 list – a three hour Bollywood epic whose influence can be seen in films like the Academy Award Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire. Did Deewaar need to last three hours with a number of musical breaks, probably not but this is Bollywood after all.
Deewaar (which translates to ‘The Wall’ in English) follows the story of two brothers whose lives went in drastically different directions after their father was branded a thief and abandoned his family in disgrace. The elder son, Vijay, falls into a life of crime after being arguably more traumatised by his family’s sudden fall into poverty – then there is Ravi who was send to be educated and ends up becoming a police officer.
From this, you can probably map a lot of the plot beats for yourself as Deewaar is not the sort of film to throw a curveball. In fact, in places, it can be remarkably predictable and cheesy with telenovella style over-reactions and lightning bolts in the sky. However, there’s a lot of real emotion in here too with the four leads showing real glimpses of brilliance. Also, it’s worth noting just how this film hammers home the social mobility problems in India – something that I also saw in yesterday’s film.
However, there is no getting away from this film being about half an hour too long, for somehow rushing the ending and for those musical breaks. I get that the songs are a Bollywood hallmark, but they really minimize some of the social messages that this film is trying to put across… before the messages are overly thrust into our faces 20 minutes later. In the end it’s a tightrope and, not being of the culture or the time period, I have no idea how this would be taken at the time.
As with most things 1001, Deewaar was an interesting film that helps to fit another piece into the jigsaw puzzle of cinematic influences. Watching this, I couldn’t help but wonder if this film is part of a chain that ended up with the excellent Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs and, by extension, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.