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Film / Deewaar

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Deewaar (Wall) is a 1975 Bollywood film directed by Yash Chopra and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, and Nirupa Roy.

Brothers Vijay (Bachchan) and Ravi (Kapoor) grow up in poverty with their mother Sumitra (Roy) and father Anand. When their mine union leader father is blackmailed by a corrupt businessman into betraying the workers' demands, he flees the town in disgrace, leaving his wife and children behind to be tormented by the angry workers before they too flee town. Vijay takes a job as a shoe shiner to help Sumitra pay for Ravi's education. As adults, Ravi tries to find jobs and Vijay works at the dock. Vijay eventually gets his break after fighting back against some racketeers extorting the dock workers; it turns out the racketeers were working for the crime boss Samant, so rival crime boss Daavar offers Vijay a position in his organization. Ravi, meanwhile, gets a job as a police officer.

Provides examples of:

  • Almost Dead Guy: Vijay finds Anita dying, and all she's able to say before dying is that she didn't tell her attackers anything.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: When Daavar recruits Vijay, Vijay starts talking about one time Daavar got his shoes shined before revealing that he was the shoeshine boy.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Vijay brings up his material wealth to disparage Ravi's choices in life, Ravi simply replies, "I have mother".
  • Backup Bluff: Ravi finds out that smuggled goods have arrived at a godown, but he has no gun on him and reinforcements are too far way to get there before the smugglers leave with the goods. What does he do? He walks into the godown with his hands in his pockets and tells the smugglers that he has the place surrounded, and that they should surrender so nobody has to die. When one of them tells another to check if he's bluffing, Ravi chews him out for risking someone else's life instead of his own. They surrender.
  • Badass Boast: When Vijay faces down the racketeers, he locks himself in with the seven of them, and tosses the leader the keys with the following words.
    "I'll open this lock, only when I take these keys from your pocket."
  • Ballistic Discount: Samant questions why he shouldn't kill Vijay to get out of paying him, now that Vijay has delivered what he promised. Vijay counters that Samant would be wasting a demonstrably valuable asset, which convinces Samant to spare and pay him. And then Vijay screws Samant over the next thing he does anyway.
  • Batman Gambit: Vijay counts on Samant's greed to gain his trust… which Vijay instantly takes advantage of.
  • Binocular Shot: Samant's sniper aiming at Vijay is shown from his perspective – through the scope.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Vijay dies, as does the pregnant Anita. At the very least, Vijay managed to reconcile with his family, and the crime bosses have died or been arrested.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: When Vijay steals the gold back from Samant's men, one of them takes a shot at him. Vijay retaliates by shooting the man's hand and warns that he won't be aiming there next time.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Samant pays Vijay for the information about the gold delivery with one of these.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Invoked by Vijay, when Samant suggests getting a Ballistic Discount. Vijay retorts that it would be killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, which sways Samant's mind. Vijay then proceeds to rip Samant off.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Vijay's "786" badge.
    • First, it saves him by stopping the bullet when he's shot by one of Samant's men while stealing the gold back.
    • Later, it saves him when Samant's men try to assassinate him. Anita notices that he left it on the bar counter, and rushes after him to return it. She drops it and they both go to pick it up right when Samant's men fire, causing the shots to miss them both.
  • Cigar Chomper: Samant is seen with a cigar in his mouth throughout the movie.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Both brothers face this.
    • Vijay is loyal to his family on one hand, and crime boss Daavar on the other.
    • Ravi is loyal to his family on one hand, and the police force on the other.
  • Cop/Criminal Family: Vijay and Ravi are brothers. They come into conflict after the former becomes a career criminal and the latter a cop.
  • Cop Killer Manhunt: Vijay points this out as a reason not to kill Ravi. Of course, it's very possible that the real reason he doesn't want Ravi to be killed is that he cares for his brother.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The mine owner who kidnaps Anand's family.
  • Crusading Widow: Although technically not a widower as they didn't have time to get married, Vijay sets out for revenge after Anita is killed.
  • Destination Defenestration: Vijay throws Samant out of a window to his death several floors below.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight:
    • Anita dies in Vijay's arms.
    • Vijay dies in his mother Sumitra's arms.
  • Dies Wide Open: The film ends with Vijay dying this way.
  • Disappeared Dad: Anand leaves his wife and sons behind in the beginning of the movie, and is absent until he turns up dead.
  • Disney Villain Death: Samant gets killed by being thrown out of a high-rise window by Vijay.
  • Disposable Vagrant: A homeless man is found dead on a train with no identification. Nobody seems to care much until Ravi realizes that the man is Anand, his father.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Defied by Ravi. Instead of turning down a job he was just offered and saying that the other man who applied for it needs it more, he asks how much he would be paid and says it's not enough before walking out. He needn't have bothered; the other man sees through it immediately (though the employer doesn't, so he was spared some embarrassment anyway) and is grateful.
  • Elevator Conference: Vijay walks into an elevator with Samant and his men to tell Samant about the gold delivery.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Vijay, shining shoes as a little boy, refuses to pick up money from the ground and demands that Daavar's subordinate put the money in his hand. Daavar is impressed by Vijay's Pride and tells his subordinate to oblige.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Vijay, although not strictly speaking evil, is a hardened criminal who nevertheless loves his mother very much and wants to give her a nice home and all the other things she deserves.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Samant and Daavar's respective criminal organisations are in conflict. Samant steals from Daavar, and neither has any qualms about murdering the other's men.
  • Fake Defector: Twice.
    • Vijay tells Samant when and where Daavar's gold shipment will arrive, so Samant can steal it. He also promises to give Samant more valuable information. It doesn't last long, however; immediately after, Vijay steals the gold right back.
    • Darpan tells Samant where Vijay will be at a given point, so Samant can have him killed. The whole thing was Vijay's plan to get a mole inside Samant's organization. See Xanatos Gambit.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The audience knows from the start that no matter what happens, Ravi and Sumitra will be okay.
  • Freudian Excuse: Vijay getting forcibly tattooed as a child with text saying that his father is a thief gives rise to his cynical outlook and motivates him to be as ruthless as he perceives the world to be.
  • Good Luck Charm: Vijay's dockworker identification badge. His badge number is 786, which one of his co-workers points out is a lucky number in Islam as it represents Bismillah ("In the name of God"). The badge saves Vijay's life twice (see Chekhov's Boomerang), and when he eventually loses it, he dies shortly thereafter.
  • Good Samaritan: Ravi gets offered a job because the man they were going to offer it to didn't turn up on time. When the man arrives, he says that he was late because he couldn't afford the bus fare and had to walk all the way. Ravi takes pity on him, and turns down the job so he can get it. When the other man thanks him, Ravi compares the situation to a jam-packed train:
    "If I'd have sat, you'd have stood."
  • Gut Feeling: Daavar predicts that Vijay will go far in life based on his infuriated reaction to having the money he was paid for shining shoes thrown on the ground and demanding that it be put in his hand instead.
  • Hope Spot: Anita reveals that she is pregnant, so Vijay decides to give up his criminal ways and start a new life with her. And then Samant's gang show up at Anita's place…
  • How We Got Here: The movie begins with Ravi dedicating a prize he got for his services to the police force to his mother Sumitra, and then flashes back to show everything that happened up to that point.
  • I Have Many Names: Anita admits that Vijay's assessment that she's the kind of woman who changes names like others change clothes is correct, but reveals that the one her parents gave her is "Anita".
  • I Have Your Wife: The corrupt businessman kidnaps Anand's wife and his two sons, and forces him to sign a document with conditions highly unfavourable to the workers in exchange for their safe release.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Anita, though not visibly pregnant yet, is tortured to death by Samant and his men.
  • Implied Death Threat: Daavar casually mentions to Vijay that a man who switched sides to work for Samant instead of Daavar was run over the previous night.
  • Inherent in the System: The movie makes it clear that the system is rigged against poor people. When the miners go on strike, the owner puts an end to the strike by kidnapping the union leader's family and blackmailing him, and is able to do so with impunity. The dockworkers have to put up with racketeers taking part of their wages. Hiring practices are biased against them, with nepotism being common. They can't afford education for their children to escape poverty. And if they resort to crime, they are far more likely to get in trouble with the law than the rich are. Ravi spells it out:
    "This world has become a third-class compartment of a train. Less space, more passengers."
  • Inspirational Martyr: One of the dockworkers who's new on the job refuses to pay the racketeers, since he needs the money to send to his family. When he gets in a fight with a racketeer and ends up accidentally getting run over and killed, Vijay decides to start fighting back against the racketeers.
  • Justified Criminal: Ravi shoots an escaping young thief in the leg, but takes this view of him after finding out all he stole was some bread, and goes to the boy's family with groceries out of guilt. The boy's father, however, does not share this view:
    "Millions die of hunger in India. Should they all become thieves?"
  • Karma Houdini: The businessman who kidnapped Anand's family and cheated the miners never gets his comeuppance.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: In the end, Ravi shoots Vijay, who dies of his injuries not long after.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Vijay relates the fable of The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs to Samant when the latter suggests killing Vijay to get a Ballistic Discount.
  • Manly Tears: Both Vijay and Ravi shed these at their father Anand's funeral.
  • Mark of Shame: The disgruntled workers tattoo the phrase "my father is a thief" on Vijay's arm when he's just a child, and he clearly never gets over the humiliation. He goes so far as to say that it is not only on his skin, but on his heart and soul as well.
  • Match Cut: When the family moves to Bombay, the movie cuts from a shot of a photograph of a Bombay street on the wall to a shot of the same street with the characters walking.
  • Meaningful Funeral: At Anand's funeral, Vijay shows up late, and when he tries to reach out to his mother Sumitra, she rebuffs him. Afterwards, he remarks to Anita that his father had been dead for 20 years already, and that this was merely when he was finally cremated.
  • Momma's Boy: Vijay and Ravi both love their mother very much. Vijay buys her a new home, and Ravi dedicates an award he got as a police officer to her. When she gets sick, Ravi stays with her in the hospital, and Vijay – who's wanted by the police and therefore can't go to the hospital where they're waiting for him – goes to the temple he had previously refused to enter, and asks Shiva to let his mother live.
  • Morton's Fork: When Sumitra falls ill, Vijay is faced with a decision: If he doesn't go to the hospital, he won't get to see his mother. If he does go to the hospital, he'll be arrested by the police waiting for him there, and won't get to see his mother. So he decides to go to the temple to have a chat with Shiva. Ravi notes that since he surrounded the hospital with police officers, he has left Vijay with no good options.
  • Mugging the Monster: The racketeers at the dock find out the hard way that they don't want to mess with Vijay.
  • Nay-Theist: Vijay refuses to go into the temple with his mother and brother. When his mother falls ill, he goes there and chews Shiva out for punishing Sumitra for his crimes, before begging the deity to spare her.
  • Nepotism: Ravi finds out at the end of a job interview that the position had already been filled by the General Manager's brother-in-law. Afterwards, he tells one of the others who have come for an interview that unless they have a relative who has a high position in the company, they're wasting their time.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: When Daavar and Vijay meet for the second time, Daavar doesn't recognize Vijay. In fairness to Daavar, Vijay has aged from a young boy to a grown man by this point. It is also not a Forgotten First Meeting; when Vijay reveals how they met, Daavar knows what Vijay is referring to.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: The fear of this happening motivates the racketeers to come down hard on anyone refusing to pay.
    "Today one man refused to pay. Tomorrow two, and so on."
  • Not Afraid to Die: Vijay considers his own death to be an acceptable cost of successfully infiltrating Samant's gang. See Xanatos Gambit.
  • One-Man Army: Vijay fearlessly faces down seven racketeers all by himself and emerges victorious.
  • One-Word Title: "Deewaar" means "The Wall", referring to the metaphorical wall that separates the two main characters Ravi and Vijay.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Sumitra outlives Vijay, whose child in turn died without even being born.
  • Outside Ride: Ravi jumps on top of Vijay's car while chasing him near the end.
  • Parental Favoritism: Sumitra admits to Ravi that she always loved Vijay more.
  • Plot-Induced Illness: Sumitra falls ill, forcing Vijay to decide whether to visit her and get arrested or turn his back on her. When he decides to do neither, she quickly gets well.
  • Pocket Protector: Vijay's "786" badge saves him this way when he's shot by one of Samant's men while stealing the gold back.
  • Pride: Vijay's defining characteristic. Most noticeably, he refuses to take money that has been thrown at him, demanding instead that it be put directly in his hand.
  • Rags to Riches: Vijay goes from shining shoes to being able to buy an apartment building as a gift to his mother out of spite (she had worked on its construction, but was fired for breaking a couple of bricks).
  • Recruited from the Gutter: Daavar hires dock worker Vijay to help his criminal organization.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Vijay is put in charge of protecting a gold shipment from Samant's men. How does he do this? Why, he goes to Samant and tells him where the shipment will arrive, of course. And after Samant has received the gold and paid him handsomely, Vijay simply steals the gold back.
  • Retirony: Vijay decides to quit the criminal life when he finds out that Anita is pregnant. They both die before that can happen.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Vijay finds that Samant has tortured Anita to death, he goes on one of these, starting by kicking in the door to Samant's office and shooting his lackeys before they have time to react, and ending it with throwing Samant out of a high-rise window.
  • Rule of Symbolism: At Anand's funeral, the lighting changes drastically (i.e. between daytime shots and pitch-black backgrounds) from shot to shot depending on who's in frame and what state of mind they're in.
  • Selective Enforcement: The mother of the young bread thief Ravi shot in the leg accuses the police force of this, saying only poor people get shot by them, while the ones who are up to their ears in black market affairs go unpunished.
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: Vijay starts shining shoes as a kid to help pay for his brother Ravi's education.
  • Shovel Strike: When the racketeers fight Vijay, one of them uses a shovel as a weapon. When Vijay gets his hands on it and starts using it himself, they're quickly curb-stomped.
  • Sibling Rivalry: When Ravi becomes a police officer and Vijay a high-ranking criminal, they end up opposing each other even though they'd both rather not.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Calm, humble Ravi and emotional, prideful Vijay. This is reflected in the different ways they help others: Ravi turns down a job so a man who needs it more can get it, whereas Vijay beats up the racketeers extorting his fellow dockworkers.
  • Signature Item Clue: When Vijay finds Anita dying, he spots one of Samant's signature cigars on the floor and correctly deduces that he was responsible.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: The brothers, Vijay especially, are subjected to poor treatment by workers who blame their father for betraying them to the businessman.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The brothers occupy different points along the scale; Ravi is closer to the idealistic end, and Vijay is closer to the cynical one. The film itself skews cynical.
  • Symbolism: Vijay and Ravi take different roads when leaving the temple, symbolising the different paths they have chosen in life.
  • Take a Third Option: When faced with the decision to either visit his mother in the hospital and get arrested or turn his back on her, Vijay instead goes to the Shiva temple and asks that her life be spared.
  • Tap on the Head: Ravi knocks one of the smugglers at the godown out before going inside and pulling his Backup Bluff. The man wakes up just too late to stop Ravi.
  • Think Nothing of It: When Ravi is presented with an award for his work as a police officer, he says that he doesn't deserve it (noting that while that is a cliché, he means it, unlike others who say so). He dedicates it to his mother instead.
  • Time Skip: The movie skips ahead from the brothers' childhoods to their early adulthoods.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: When Samant and his men torture Anita, they don't get the information they want.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The mother of the young bread thief Ravi shot in the leg calls him out on it. She goes on to accuse the police force of only targeting poor people who break the law.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The workers in the beginning of the movie have no qualms about abusing and forcibly tattooing a little boy.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Vijay concocts a plan wherein Daavar's man Darpan will tell Samant's gang where Vijay will be, giving them a chance to kill him. He reasons that regardless of whether they succeed in killing him, they will trust the Fake Defector Darpan.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Vijay references this idea when Anita suggests getting his tattoo removed after Anand's funeral – if he were to change his palm lines, would that alter his fate?