- Rehan Fazal
- BBC correspondent
‘Deewar’ was released on January 24, 1975, after completing 50 weeks of ‘Roti Kapda Aur Makaan’. As soon as the film’s director Yash Chopra heard the story of the film, he realized he had a blockbuster on his hands.
Yash Chopra later said in an interview, “At first glance, I felt this story was influenced by ‘Mother India.’” But Salim-Javed’s script was strong and even more powerful were his dialogues.
It was a complete script that I didn’t even have to take any dialogue out of after making the film. I don’t think Salim-Javed has written a better script than this in his entire career.
As for the script, the script of ‘Deewar’ was better than ‘Sholay’. It was an emotional film and not an action film.
There was only one fight scene in the entire film called ‘Godown Fight’. There were only two songs in the entire film.
The producer of the film Gulshan Rai first wanted to cast Rajesh Khanna as the hero, because Rajesh Khanna had worked in the film ‘Daag’ and that film was a hit.
But I had seen ‘Zanjeer’ so I wanted to cast Amitabh. We shot this film in 1974 between March and October. Most of the shooting of this film took place at night as Amitabh was shooting ‘Sholay’ during the day.”
Amitabh was shooting for ‘Deewar’ and ‘Sholay’ together
The interesting thing was that ‘Deewar’ and ‘Sholay’ were being shot not only in two different locations but in two different cities.
Amitabh Bachchan had said in an interview, “The climax of The Wall was being shot at night in Mumbai. I would stay up all night and catch a flight to Bangalore in the morning from where ‘Sholay’ is being shot ‘ at Ramgarh, an hour away.
After the shoot was over, I would take a flight back to Mumbai in the evening to continue shooting for ‘Deewar’. I could only sleep a little during the flight. This cycle lasted several days.
Ramesh Sippy and Yash Chopra, directors of ‘Sholay’ and ‘Deewar’, later said that even after doing two shifts a day, Amitabh was not late for any shoot.
After the shooting of ‘Sholay’ was over, Yash Chopra started shooting for ‘Kabhi Kabhi’ along with ‘Deewar’.
List of classic films
‘Deewar’ was a commercial success as was ‘Critical Acclaim’.
‘Deewar’ was one of three Hindi films that Steven Jay Schneider included in his ‘1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die’ list.
‘Forbes’ magazine named Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in the top 25 performances of Indian cinema. “Deewar” ran for a full 100 weeks and earned the status of a “classic film”.
Perhaps the reason for this was that this film had broken many conventions.
The film had only two songs, the hero was an ‘anti-hero’, there was little room for romance, the heroine had a very small role and did not play the role of an ideal girl.
Amitabh Bachchan later recalled the film and said, “I heard the story of ‘Deewar’ and liked how it was portrayed as per that era.
Yashji loves beauty, nature and romance. I always needed a bouquet of flowers. I can understand how painful it must have been for him to build the “wall”.
Gulshan Rai did not like the fact that there was very little music in the film. Later, on his insistence, a Sufi song was added to the film. Yash Chopra didn’t like it, but later accepted Gulshan Rai.
Gulshan Rai had read the story of this film twice and both times he could not hold back his tears.
The title music composed for the film ‘Josheela’ was used in ‘Deewar’. It was later used again in the movie ‘Yarana’.
Rajesh Khanna and Naveen Nischal were Yash Chopra’s first choice
When Yash Chopra heard Deewar’s script, he was making the film ‘Gardish’. He was so impressed with the script of ‘Deewar’ that he stopped shooting ‘Gardish’.
He was afraid that if he got delayed, the script of ‘Deewar’ would fall into someone else’s hands.
Yash Chopra initially wanted Rajesh Khanna for the role of Vijay and Naveen Nischal for the role of Ravi. Vyjayanthimala was in his mind for the role of mother.
Meanwhile, Salim-Javed had a falling out with Rajesh Khanna and tried his best not to cast Rajesh Khanna in the film.
When Naveen Nischal and Vyjayanthimala heard that Rajesh Khanna was not working in the film, they refused to act in the film.
After that, Yash Chopra chose Amitabh Bachchan for the role of Vijay.
He almost gave the role of mother to Waheeda Rehman, but later changed his mind thinking that Waheeda was playing the role of Amitabh’s lover in one of his films ‘Kabhi Kabhi’. Audience may not like Amitabh Bachchan’s role of mother in ‘Deewar’.
The theme of ‘Deewar’ was similar to ‘Mother India’
One reviewer noted many points in the film’s story. The subject matter of the story, but also the way of doing it, has been taken a lot from ‘Mother India’.
The film plays in flashback. Without a husband, a mother has to face many struggles to raise her two children. One of his sons obeys the law while the other son takes the law into his own hands. The mother wants a bad son but is forced to choose a good son.
The characters in ‘Deewar’ are very similar to ‘Mother India’ but Salim-Javed has given them a contemporary twist. Although Nirupa Roy was not as big a star as Nargis, she played the role of a perfect mother. They must choose between the law of the land and their relationship.
Although she loves Vijay very much, she chooses the law. Vijay does not believe in religion, but is superstitious about the number 786 insignia on his arm.
Finally, when his mother falls ill, he goes to the same temple to pray for her, which he had always refused to go to. When this scene was shot, Amitabh requested Yash Chopra that no one but him be present on the set when this scene was shot.
This scene was shot at night and after 15 takes, Yash Chopra said this take was fine. Interestingly, no dialogue was written for the film’s death scene.
With Yash Chopra’s consent, Amitabh gave the entire scene ‘Adlib’. Parts of this film were found in the 1954 film ‘On the Waterfront’ by Elia Kazan.
‘I have a mother’
In ‘Mother India’, the evil son Birju is killed by his mother, who was the main character of that film. The main character of ‘Deewar’ is his son Vijay. After a disagreement with him, his mother and brother move to live in another house. Vijay and Ravi meet under a bridge. In the background, Allama Iqbal’s famous song ‘Saare Jahan Se Achcha, Hidositan Hamara’ plays. Vijay tells Ravi to take another case.
Ravi says he can’t accept another case because of his principles. Then Vijay talks about that famous dialogue: “Oi, your principles, your ideals! Once you can’t make bread by kneading all your principles, Ravi. What have these ideals of yours yielded? A four-five police job -hundred rupees.A rented quarter, a service jeep, two pairs of khaki uniforms.Today I have a building,property,bank balance,bungalow,car,what do you have?
Ravi’s famous reply comes, “I have a mother.”
Salim-Javed’s fortunes turned
The temple scene from the movie ‘Deewar’ was also much talked about. Recalling the scene that shows Ravi’s displeasure with Lord Shiva, Javed says, “We had a conversation with Amitabh Bachchan when that scene was being shot. We felt that there was too much severity in the way he spoke in that scene. But he didn’t completely agree with me.
He said, “If I speak the dialogue in a slow voice, then during that scene I have to raise my voice somewhere high.” That’s why I decided that I will keep the delivery of the dialogue high from the beginning and that I will reduce it little by little». I think this idea worked. Here Amitabh was absolutely right.
To do this scene, Amitabh Bachchan did a lot of practice in front of the mirror. Amitabh intentionally did not dub this scene, because he believed that he would not be able to recapture the feelings of this role in dubbing and the dubbing would maintain the effect of the scene.
It is said that after this film, Salim-Javed had reduced his fees to Rs 8 lakh. Which was the highest remuneration for any storyteller at that time.
Earlier, when Salim-Javed narrated his story to Yash Chopra, he had been asked for Rs 1 lakh as remuneration, which he refused to pay. After the success of ‘Zanjeer’, she increased her fee to 3 lakhs, which Yash Chopra happily agreed to give.
If ‘Zanjeer’ in 1973 brought Amitabh to prominence as ‘Angry Young Man’, then ‘Deewar’ brought him ‘centre stage’.
‘Deewar’ will also be remembered for its strong female characters. While Nirupa Rai, who plays the mother in the film, rejects her delinquent son, gangster Vijay’s girlfriend Anita openly smokes alcohol and cigarettes, but also becomes pregnant.
Amitabh tied a long shirt around his waist
The film also has an interesting story of Amitabh Bachchan tying his shirt in the dock scene.
When she was given a T-shirt for the scene, she found that the T-shirt was excessively long and reached her knee.
He then decided to shoot the film by tying the same shirt.
In the 1970s and 1980s, ‘Deewar’ was one of the 13 films to earn more than 1 crore rupees across all Indian territories.
In this film, Neetu Singh has become the girlfriend of Shashi Kapoor while in real life she was the wife of his nephew Rishi Kapoor.
‘Deewar’ received many awards, but despite giving the best performance of his life, Amitabh Bachchan did not receive the Filmfare Best Actor award.
That year, Filmfare awarded the best actor award to Sanjeev Kumar for the film ‘Aandhi’.
Amitabh Bachchan’s role in ‘Deewar’ was very similar to the life of the famous smuggler Haji Mastan. During the shooting, Amitabh had met Haji Mastan many times to understand his life.
Madan Puri’s character in the film was based on the life of Haji Mastan’s rival Sukur Narayan Bakhia.
Shashi Kapoor played the role of Amitabh’s elder brother in this film. In real life, Shashi Kapoor was four years older than Amitabh.
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