Year of Release: 1975
Director: Yash Chopra
Producer: Gulshan Rai
Lead Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Neetu Singh, Nirupa Roy, Parveen Babi
Deewaar had some stroke of luck in that it was released in January 1975, about six months before Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency across the country. Had it been a few months late, the movie may not have even been allowed to release since it glorifies smugglers.
Who knows it may have shown Inspector Ravi Verma encouraging subtle political propaganda for the regime. All movies released during that dark period had to show the government in a positive light.
But the film isn’t just a story of two brothers who make polarising choices when confronted by adversities. It is also an example of how to demonise Hindu beliefs to make a favourable case for another religion.
In this film, Amitabh Bachchan played Vijay, a dockyard worker who refused to go to temples. Even as a child, he is convinced that the deity his mother so devotedly worships is powerless and doesn’t deserve his obeisance.
However, Vijay has no qualms in extolling the virtues of a badge with 786 engraved on it. It is the shiny badge that protects him from death. Vijay dies a few seconds after accidentally losing the badge during a chase sequence.
Why did writers Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar make the protagonist hate Hindu faith but venerate symbols of their faith? Well…
And it isn’t just one instance encouraging derision towards Hindu beliefs. Gems of Bollywood put together this compilation of several agenda-driven scenes and references in Deewaar:
Take the scene where the young Vijay refuses to enter a temple. When his mother scolds him for his defiance, the temple pujari asks her not to scold the boy because his faith must come from within, not coerced. Superficially, some could interpret this scene as pro-Hinduism since it projects it as a faith that encourages questioning and debate. But if you dig deeper, you will notice that Vijay was never able to accept his mother’s faith till the end.
He walks into the Mandir on two occasions – one, to scold Lord Shiva for his mother’s health, and two, to die after he loses the protection of 786. Is there any scene that shows that he finally developed Shraddha or Bhakti for the deity? No.
For decades, all left-leaning critics have celebrated the ‘Aaj Khush toh bohot hoge tum’ scene as an iconic performance. The narrative set by the writers is straightforward – Lord Shiva is an insensitive deity who wouldn’t listen to the lifelong prayers of a suffering woman. However, his stubbornness is nothing in front of a man blessed by 786.
It is hard to ignore the question if those critics would have reacted the same way had the protagonist targeted the supreme deity from other religions with the same contemptuous tone and tenor. Nope. Despite such propaganda, Deewaar cemented Salim-Javed’s success, and they wrote many more blockbuster films and got paid as highly as leading actors of the time.