With Kabhie Kabhie and Silsila , Yash Chopra had started moving completely into his favourite genre – Romance. However, the anger against the ways of the society which Yashji had depicted in films such as Deewaar , Trishul still lived within him. This is what he depicted for the last time in Mashaal.
Mashaal is apparently based on a Marathi play – Ashrunchi Zhaali Phule (Tears that turned into flowers). The same play was adapted into a Hindi film earlier ‘Aansoo ban gaye phool’ directed by Satyen Bose and starring Ashok Kumar.
Vinod Kumar (Dilip Kumar) is an honest and fearless journalist who after exposing a corrupt don cum industrialist S.K Vardhan (Amrish Puri) is fired from his job. In order to start his own publication, Vinod Kumar moves into ‘Dogar Bhatti’ a slum of Mumbai. Here he often clashes with the local ruffian Raja (Anil Kapoor). But after seeing the eminent goodness in him, Vinod Kumar becomes a father figure to Raja . He also inspires Raja to pursue journalism as a career option, thereby we see Raja leaving the slums to pursue the same and in the hope of a better life. What follows next is the ruthless destruction of Vinod Kumar (which also includes the death of his wife) thanks to his constant clashes with the ruthless Vardhan. With nothing more left to lose, Vinod Kumar becomes a prominent figure in Mumbai underworld whose only aim in life now remains to eliminate Vardhan. In the midst of this Raja who is unaware of Kumar’s transformation returns and decides to confront him and find out the reason for the same.
Like most of Yash Chopra’s films, the characters in Mashaal are very much identifiable and true to life. These are the people whom we must have encountered at some or the other point of life. The situations which the characters go through are what one sees or reads in the news everyday. The expose of corrupt people, the price which honest people have to pay for exposing the corrupt ways of the people and society, these are the things that have been happening in our society since time immemorial.
Ideally, journalism is considered as an instrument of change in the society. As time passes by, it needs a torch bearer who can carry on with this change. Hence the significance of the title, Mashaal.
Since time immemorial, the clash of good v/s evil has been one of the most often depicted stories in Hindi Cinema. Mashaal also primarily depicts the clash between the good and evil. However, Yash Chopra adds an interesting perspective to the proceedings. Life is often unpredictable as depicted in the film, where suddenly midway in the film the characters find themselves on the other side of the law.
As it happens during a game of football, wherein the teams change sides during half time, through a dialogue the film brilliantly compares the plight of the characters to the game of football.
The film had complete scope to become an absolute melodramatic fare. However thanks to Yash Chopra and team , it becomes absolutely engaging and true to life. The scenes shown in the slum area are shot realistically and are very much identifiable, especially by those who have lived at some or the other point of their life in Mumbai. Without wasting much time, the film gets straight into action with Dilip Kumr being fired from his job and him going to the Dogar Bhatti slum to start his own publication. At the same time, the film takes time to build characters and establish conflicts without unnecessary deviations.
Several scenes, moments, characters linger on in your mind and stay with you even after the movie has ended. Like the entry scene of Anil Kapoor in which he clashes with a rival gang of ruffians from the slum, the initial confrontations between Anil Kapoor and Dilip Kumar, the confrontations between Dilip Kumar and Amrish Puri, the scene in which Anil Kapoor reminiscences his painful childhood and so on.
The relationship between Dilip Kumar and Anil Kapoor forms the crux the movie and is well developed. Beginning as a relationship of anger and hate to ultimately evolving as a bond of respect and trust, the transformation in their characters is wonderfully developed.
This is one of the earliest films which Javed Akhtar wrote minus Salim Khan – the other of the legendary writer duo Salim –Javed. Javed Akhtar has done an absolutely swell job of writing a story with true to life characters and brilliant dialogues. There is a scene in which Dilip Kumar says ‘ Yahan Bambai mein dhoondne se bhagwaan mil jaayega , lekin ghar milna mushkil hai’ is a very good example of the same. And a line every Mumbaikar will truly identify with.
My only grouse with the movie is the ending. After being unconventional and realistic for most of the time, the ending seems quite formulaic and robs the film of its realism to a certain extent.
Ravi Dewan’s action pieces are well orchestrated and add to the mood of the film. Hridaynath Mangeshkar has composed some good songs , however it hardly has any scope in the film, except for the song ‘Footpathon ke hum rehnewala’ which is introductory song of Anil Kapoor and his tapori gang which also includes Gulshan Grover amongst others. Like many other Hindi films, the songs seem to be forced into the proceedings. The tune of the Holi Aayi re song has been reworked from Mangeshkar’s own Marathi song composed for the film Jait Re Jait.
As a director Yash Chopra shows complete control and form during most part of the movie.
After doing a majority of romantic and emotional sagas for a major part of his carreer , Dilip Kumar turned to doing more of the angry patriarch roles in the 80’s keeping in the mind the trend that was being followed during that time in Bollywood. During the 80’s , Dilip Kumar did many such films like Vidhaata, Mashaal, Karma etc to name a few. Without a shred of doubt, Mashaal easily remains his best film during the 80’s. The scenes in which he shows a quiet determination to avenge his humiliation from Amrish Puri or the scene in which he remembers the tragic death of his wife displays the brilliance of Dilip Kumar. If one talks about Mashaal, it is just impossible not to mention the below mentioned famous scene form the movie. This brilliant scene very well depicts the inhuman and uncaring side of Mumbai. And it becomes simply unforgettable to the way Dilip saab has brilliantly portrayed it. Incidentally Mashaal is the only Yash Chopra directed film in which Dilip Kumar has acted.
Initially Anil Kapoor’s role was offered to Amitabh Bachchan and Kamal Hassan before it finally came to Kapoor. Mashaal proved to be one of the earliest turning points of Anil Kapoor’s career. Being pitted opposite a thespian like DIlip Kumar itself was a challenge. However, Anil Kapoor manages to hold his own and delivers one of his finest performances. The Bambaiyya tapori lingo suits Kapoor well and was used by him in many films later to great effect, the most recent film being Welcome.
Waheeda Rehman is her usual likeable self and brings the much needed warmth to her character. Her chemistry with her yesteryear co-star Dilip Kumar was wonderful as it was during their earlier days. Rati Agnihotri lends adequate support. Amrish Puri is his usual efficient self bringing the right amount of hatred and arrogance to his character. Nilu Phule, Mohan Agashe , Gulshan Grover, Madan Puri and the rest of the supporting cast do are efficient.
Though Mashaal didn’t do well at the box office, however as a film it ranks amongst the best films of Yash Chopra.Even years later, Mashaal still remains a very valid and contemporary film. Mainly due to the issues which it raises and as mentioned earlier the trials and tribulations which the characters face remain relevant even today.
Note- This is post is part of the special Yash Chopra Blogathon as a humble tribute from MAM to the master filmmaker, Yash Chopra. You can also check out our posts on Waqt, Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, Kaala Patthar, Silsila, Dharamputra, Dhool Ka Phool, Aadmi aur Insaan and a tribute to Yash Chopra as well.