Sunday, November 06, 2011

I've got mom, you see!

Deewaar (The Wall in Hindi) is the mother of all movies and has the mother of all dialogues. The Bollywood blockbuster, produced by Gulshan Rai and directed by Yash Chopra in 1975, is the tragic story of two brothers, Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) and Ravi (Shashi Kapoor), whose ideals take them in diametrically opposite directions.

The eldest, Vijay, grows up to become a boot polisher-turned-dock
worker-turned underworld kingpin while his younger brother, Ravi, becomes an honest and upright police officer who eventually kills his sibling and proves that the law is equal for everyone, bhayya (brother) or badmaash (scoundrel).

Torn between the two warring brothers is the helpless and weeping mother, Sumitra Devi (Nirupa Roy, the eternal celluloid mom), whose heart and conscience are in conflict throughout the 175-minute long movie. While she loves both her sons equally, she is forced to choose in the end, and predictably, she chooses Ravi over Vijay, virtue over vice.

Deewaar is the mother of all movies (though some might argue it's Mother India, 1957) because Sumitra Devi is a single mother who suffers immense hardship and humiliation as she raises her sons through a strict moral code. It works and doesn't work. While Bollywood films are replete with single-mother themes, nowhere is her role more intense and captivating than in Deewaar (though others might argue it's still Mother India), which celebrates Indian womanhood and motherhood on a grand scale.

Deewaar also has the mother of all dialogues because of the following conversation between the two brothers, a line that has become the tagline of the film.

Bachchan (right) and Kapoor face off in Deewaar
Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) paraphrasing: Your principles? Where have your principles got you? What have they given you? a two-bit police job? A change of uniform? A rundown police jeep? Now look at me: I have a bungalow, a car, money. What do you have?
Ravi (Shashi Kapoor) feelingly: I have mother!

What Ravi actually says, in Hindi, is: "Mere paas maa hai!" Translated literally, it means "I have got mom!" He utters just those four magical words and in one fell swoop demolishes his crooked brother's misplaced pride and his earthly possessions. Poor Vijay knows he has lost everything. But did he own anything?

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