Planet Bollywood
Producer: Gaurang Doshi
Director: Milan Luthria
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Akshaye Khanna, K.K. Menon, Tanuja, Amrita Rao
Music: Aadesh Srivastava
Lyrics: Nusrat Badr
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 25 June 2004
Reviewed by: Ron Ahluwalia  - Rating: 7.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.09 / 10 (rated by 412 viewers)
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Before its release, everyhting about Deewaar was big: big hype, big cast (read: Big B), big producer (Gaurang Doshi, who previously made the mesmirizing Aankhen, also with Amitabh Bachchan), and big expectations. Everything from the publicity to the very name of the movie--which was taken from the Yash Chopra mega hit--raised Deewaar┬┤s expectations to the heavens! The end result, however, consists of various surprises--some good, some bad.

The basic premise of the film is simple, but novel, as not much cinematic light has been shed on Indian prisoners-of-war in Pakistan. Major Ranbir Kaul (Amitabh Bachchan) has been in a Pakistani POW camp for thrity-three years, along with many of his troops. His now adult son Gaurav (Akshaye Khanna) decides to invade Pakistan and bring his father home. Once in Pakistan, he is aided by the Pakistani-Hindu Jabbar (Akhilendra Mishra) and eventually, the sketchy Khan (Sanjay Dutt).

If you expect Deewaar to be realistic portrayal of a historic event, then you will be disappointed. The film is completely commerical, but very entertaining. It covers all of its bases: anti-Pakistan, romance, sacrifice, friendship, desh bhakti, etc. It┬┤s the packaging of the film that makes it a worthwhile fare at the movies.

Despite and honest effort, director Milan Luthria┬┤s best film to-date is still his first, Kachche Dhaage (Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan). However, he has taken great strides in giving his films a slick look. His use of camera angles is superb, and he manages to give a somewhat bleak film a stylish look. Cinematography and action are great, as expected. The editing might not find many takers, but serves the purpose of the film.

After Aankhen, one would have expected the screenplay of Gaurang Doshi┬┤s second venture to be just as brilliant, but that is not the case. The first half of the film is so slow, that it almost regresses in pace. Initially, the film tries to captivate the audience through vivid depictions of Pakistani atrocities on Indian. This technique will appeal to India┬┤s crowd, but not to the overseas viewers, who do not habour emotions of the same intensity towards the Indo-Pak conflict. The only aspect of the pre-interval portions that engaes the viewer is Akshaye Khanna┬┤s journey into Pakistan, reaching Jabbar, and the subsequent interactions between the two. Amitabh Bachchan┬┤s role becomes is repetitive, and Sanjay Dutt only arrives towards the end of the first half. In totality, Deewaar is a pretty boring film before the intermission.

The second half is much more enthralling. There is much more action and the film┬┤s pace hightens immensly. The interactions between the characters and the execution of events--especially the climax--are spectacular. Literally, the second half is nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat, thrilling, entertainment, which anyone can enjoy.

Contrary to popular belief, the romantic angle between Amrita Rao and Akshaye Khanna is not detremental to the script. Very early in the film, the viewer is aware that he/she is watching a masala flick, and the absence of a love track would render Deewaar incomplete. Amirta is a pleasure to watch, as always, and is a gradeful as every. She oozes a Madhuri Dixit-esque perofrmance in her song, "Piya Bawari".

Aadesh Srivastava┬┤s music is functional. "Marhabba" is one of the best item numbers Bollywood has seen in a long time, as it┬┤s placement is opportune, it works with the screenplay, and it gives Bollywood great exposure to belly dancing.

Now for what could be the biggest surprise of the year: Amitabh Bachchan is not the real hero of Deewar. It┬┤s Akshaye Khanna. The entire films revolves around Gaurav┬┤s scheme to free the prisoners and his ingenious methods of completing his tasks. Khanna steals the entire show! Akshaye┬┤s chemistry with every character is dead-on. His action sequeces could not have been better. He emotes and delivers dialogue better than some industry veterans. Akshaye makes his character very human, and you can almost relate to him. If you thought Akshaye was amazing in Dil Chahta Hai, then he out does himself in Deewaar. Hopefully, people will take notice and nominate him in the lead actor category at this year┬┤s award shows.

The dynamics of Bachchan┬┤s role in the first half are peculiar. Essentially, Ranbir Kaul is the target Gaurav is working towards. Most of Bachchan┬┤s scenes seem to have been added to play with the audiences emotions and given him a bigger role. His role finally gains momentum in the second half, and he flies with it. Needless to say, Amitabh Bachchan is first rate, proving why he┬┤s the best, yet again.

Sanjay Dutt has what can be called a glorified speical appearance. Obviously, he brings flair and excitement to the ongoings, but he has precious little to do in the first half. The eventual outcome of his role is cliche. But the Deadly Dutt gives the feeling as though you┬┤re watching this character for the first time, and he is outstanding! He should be up for some awards, too.

As the vile head of the POW camp, K.K. Menon is wrongfully sidelined. This powerhouse of talent does wonders with his eyes, but his role is not given enough space amongst the other actors. Nonetheless, K.K. is fabulous.

Amrita Rao, Tanuja, Akhilendra Mishra, and Aditya Srivastava enact their roles well, regardless of how little they have to do.

Deewaar is a good movie. Strictly GOOD. Don┬┤t expect utter realities, an Oscar-calibre screenplay, or Amitabh Bachchan saving the world. Just go for some wholesome, chatpata, entertainment. Try to fight the somnolent first half because the second half is well worth the wait. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

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