“Main aaj bhi phenke huey paise nahi uthata”
We know this scene from ‘Deewar’. In fact, we know it too well.
Mulkraj Dawar (Iftekhar) and his associate come out after playing a race. Iftekhar mentions to his associate that the winning horse is the one who runs slowly at first and picks up speed towards the end.
Continuing this conversation, they stop to get their shoes polished. Once both their shoes are polished, Dawar’s associate throws a coin at the shoeshine boy by way of payment. The boy, Vijay, (a young Amitabh Bachchan) refuses to pick it up. Seething with anger he stands up and says,”Hum boot polish karta hai, bheekh nahi maangta. Paisa utha kar haath mein do.” (I am not a beggar. I work hard for a living. Pick up the coin and give it to me in my hands).
It is important to note a few things about this scene and leading up from it.
It is a classic example of Setup and Payoff. And the Payoff comes not just on a single occasion, and multiple times.
A. When Iftekhar asks his associate to pick up the coin and hand it over to the boy, the associate is bewildered. For the life of him, he cannot imagine that his boss is asking him to pick up the coin to hand it over to an unknown shoeshine boy.
It is an example of near perfect timing, in my view. I have not seen this kind of timing on too many occasions.
B. On their way to their car after getting their shoes polished, Iftekhar mentions to his accomplice, “Tumne iss ladke ke tewar dekhe. Yeh lambi race ka ghoda hai. Yeh zindagi bhar boot polish nahi karega. Zindagi ki race mein jab issne speed pakdi, yeh sabko peeche chhod dega.”
(Did you observe that kid ? Especially the way he reacted? He is a winning horse. He will not polish shoes all his life. The moment he picks up speed in the game of life, he will leave everyone behind).
A dilaogue line which establishes character and builds suspense.
1. This is the scene after Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) has given Samant’s men a taste of their own medicine. He is walking alone when approached by Dawar (Iftekhar) sitting in his car.
Did the thought cross the Director, Mr Yash Chopra’s mind that ‘Should Vijay show a flicker of recognition, because after all he knows Iftekhar from his shoeshine boy days?
As it turns out, Vijay does not reveal that he knows Mulkraj Dawar, till the following scene comes about.
2. Mulkraj Dawar has decided to work with Vijay. Vijay looks out through the window, at Marine Drive. He sees a flash cut of his mother alongwith her two sons, hungry and helpless.
Mulkraj Dawar: Kya dekh rahe ho? (What are you looking at?) Vjay: Dekh raha hoon, ek besahara aurat, do masoom bachche, bhook se nidhaal. (then turning to Mulkraj Dawar) Dawar saab, mujhe aaapka sauda manzoor hai”. (One helpless woman, two little kids, dead with hunger. Dawar Saab, I accept your offer)
Without this flashcut, the logic of the scene simple wouldn’t work. What do you think?
3. He throws a wad of notes at Vijay as his first pay. Now for the first time Vijay reveals that he knows Mulkraj Dawar from beforehand.
Vijay: “Dawar Saab, barson pehle aap race khelne jaaaya karte they. Aur hamesha ek jagah ruk kar apney joote polish karwate they. Dawar saab, main aaj bhi phenke huey paise nahi uthata.” (Dawar Saab, years ago you used to play the races. And each time as you came out, you would get your shoes polished at one place. Dawar Saab, even today I do not pick up a payment that is thrown at me, not in my hands).
Also worth noting, Iftekhar’s expression when he hears the mention of “Dawar Saab, barson pehle aap race khelne jaaaya karte they. Aur race se nikalte samay hamesha ek jagah ruk kar apney joote polish karwate they.”
It is a mix of utter curiosity and also the sense that the boy Vijay has never left Dawar’s mind all these years.
It is as if Mulkraj Dawar himself has never forgotten about that shoeshine boy.
After a few scenes, there is another payoff.
4. This is after Mulkraj Dawar has made Vijay his successor.
As Mulkraj Dawar and his accomplice (the same guy at the shoeshine scene) leave the room, now for the first time, Dawar reveals to his accomplice that he is the same shoeshine boy from several years ago.
Mulkraj Dawar, “Tumhe yaad hai wo ladka jahaan hum apney joote polish karwate they...Main galat nahi tha. Yeh wahi ladka hai” (Remember that boy outside the racecourse where we used to get our shoes polished? I was not wrong. He is the same boy).
I’d very much like to know what you think of this.