About the story: During the India-Pakistan war in December of 1971, 54 Indian soldiers are captured by the Pakistani army. 33 years later more than half of them are still alive, amongst them Major Ranvir Kaul (Amitabh Bachchan) who has never given up hope to see India again. At long last, he manages to get a message to his wife (Tanuja) – but the government wishes to avoid a conflict with Pakistan and does nothing to free the prisoners. At this point major Kaul’s son Gaurav (Akshaye Khanna) takes on the initiative and travels to Pakistan. There he can locate the prison camp and witnesses an attempt of the prisoners to escape which only one of them succeeds in: the Indian spy and maverick Khan (Sanjay Dutt). In cooperation with him Gaurav developes a plan to free the Indian captives. In order to instruct the major and the other prisoners, Khan lets himself get captured again...
The tagline of Deewaar leaves no doubt about the message of the film: "Let’s bring our heroes home." Once again the everlasting and ineffable cliche of "good and brave Indian soldiers versus cruel and heartless Pakistani" is put to work – a cliche that won’t fit the more peaceful tone the Indian film industry started using some time ago towards the northern neighbours. At least not all Pakistani were conjured up to be bad guys; e.g. the Pakistani major Qureshi (Piyush Mishera) always treats major Kaul with sincere respect, and Gaurav finds helpers for his mission among Khan’s muslim friends, while on the other hand the Indian government forsakes its brave soldiers. So in the end you can live with the result, particularly as the patriotic phrases are kept within limits.
This of course is firstly due to Amitabh Bachchan who plays the unbreakable major Kaul with breathtaking intensity. Throughout the film you only wish for his successful escape and the long awaited return to India, his wife and his son, and that applies for his comrades as well. Akshaye Khanna is much better placed in those rather active-aggressive roles than in the romantic ones, although even in Deewaar he falls in love with Radhika, his host’s daugther, echantingly and charmingly played by Amrita Rao. But in the end, the love plot and Amrita are about as unimportant for the film as Tanuja, even if Tanuja is acting very forcefully in her few scenes. Deewaar completely belongs to the men, who are either fighting or helping each other; the Indian prisoners as well as the Pakistani are casted very well, with the crippled and sadistic camp commander Sohail (a great performance by K.K. Menon) at the top. However, beyond any doubts, it is Amitabh who carries the film – supported by Sanjay Dutt who is equally brilliant in developing his role.
Although his role is smaller than Amitabh’s, Sanjay turns it into a perceived main role. Similarly to Plan, he enters the plot after about an hour, but afterwards the movie is unthinkable without him – particularly since his part as "Allah’s pride" Khan is crucial to the conclusion of the plot. As a prisoner he has to endure even more than Amitabh, but in the course he never loses his self-esteem or his diabolical humour. Sanjay is just great in this film and he looks strikingly attractive. The speedy "Marhaba" number, where he dances while his hand is aflame, leaves you just breathless. The Star Screen Awards found his performance worthy of a nomination as best actor in a supporting role.
Amitabh and Sanjay make Deewaar worth watching. Even those who don’t like such patriotic issues in particular, can look forward to a thrillingly staged story with two main actors who by their intense acting and their charisma once again prove that they belong to the top-league of actors.
Produced by Gaurang Doshi; Directed by Milan Luthria
156 Min.; DVD: EROS, English Subtitles (including songs)
© Diwali; Translated by nandini67