It starts out with poor little orphan, Shakti Vellu, aka Dayavan (kid version of Vinod Khanna) ending up witnessing his dad being unjustly murdered by some corrupt police. He has to flee his southern home and hide in Bombay for safety only to run into some punks on the seaside who try to beat and rob him. During this fight, Dayavan runs into a little ruffian, Shanker (kid version of Feroz Khan), who is impressed by Dayavan’s fighting skills, flair, generosity, piety, all that good stuff , which to me are the personality traits I want to believe the Khanna’s (Rahul, Akshaye, and Vinod) posses in real life, don’t you? OK, real life, whatever, back to the movie. Dayavan sets Shankar straight about his true inner badass nature, for within the composed orphan, lies a heart capable of murderous rage with he witnesses injustice!
I am too lazy to get into retelling you the plot of the film, so here’s a synopsis to suffice and then I’ll skip to the parts I liked best.
After having witnessed his dad being killed by the local South Indian police, and being orphaned and homeless, Shakti Velhu develops a hate, and distrust of the police in India. He is befriended by another homeless boy named Shanker, who asks him to accompany him a slum in Bombay, where they live with a kind-hearted Muslim named Karim Baba, and his daughter, Shama. This is where Shakti and Shankar spend their childhood. When they mature, they take to petty crime. Here too, Shakti witnesses police brutality and atrocities, especially at the hands of sadistic, alcoholic, and womanizing Police Inspector Ratan Singh. When Karim Baba is arrested, jailed, and found hanging by his neck in police custody, Shakti hunts down Ratan Singh, and kills him in broad daylight in front of the several hundred people. An investigation is launched, but no one comes forward as a witness. Thus Shakti gets his reputation as a Don with a good heart viz. Dayavan. Shakti marries local prostitute, Neelu, and has two children, Suraj and Sarita. He becomes even more powerful and influential all over Bombay, and his working partners are powerful criminal dons who have ruled over Bombay for eons. Shakti eventually replaces these dons, and becomes Bombay’s only Don. This creates enemies for him and his family, but he believes since he has not really done any harm to anyone, he and his family will be safe. It is this belief that will take a heavy toll on his life and that of his family, when the truth dawns that he, himself, is responsible for being kind to a man, who will ultimately bring forward ruin to the Velhu family. (source)
Fast forward from their childhood to adulthood still in the slums, think Slumdog Millionaire, except in this case the two guys stick together and have a life long bromance. Check out one of their bromantic escapades here:
There’s the supreme policeman villain there to push Dayavan’s buttons, talk about a corrupt dude! Inspector Ratan Singh (Amrish Puri!) harasses the slum dwellers, especially a spicy widow played by Aruna Irani.
As a spinster, I’ve managed quite well for very long without a husband, Amrish-ji, I mean Inspector Ratan Singh. When the evil cop is not harassing widow Aruna, he lies about with the courtesans of the slums drinking hooch.
Enter Khanna hero, Vinod, who witnesses the harassment of the widow and breaks into a justice fueled fury, and executes a beat down on the inspector.
Haughtiness intact! Yet another trait I image the Khanna’s have in real life: intact haughtiness under adverse circumstances. Then after the severe police brutality takes its toll on Dayavan’s body, enter Shankar, to comfort him. Take in the splendor of the bromance:
How do you cheer up your buddy after an assault from a crooked cop? A night out at the local brothel of course!
The tune I liked most from the film was Kahe Saiyan Teri Meri Baat with playback singers Ahsa Bhosle and Kavita Krishnamurthy (music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, lyrics Aziz Qaisi). I couldn’t find the video separate from the film, so to see it go to 2:30 in the clip below to see the greatness.
Shankar teases Dayavan about his lack of experience with women and arranges for him to have an overnight stay in a room at the brothel, if you know what I mean. Dayavan uses the room to sleep off his night of drinking and is awakened, as is so commonly the case, by the innocent prostitute, who is quietly, yet intensely studying for her exams. He gives her money to continue her studies, and leaves her untouched. Now doesn’t this remind you of the class and flair of what you’d imagine the Khanna’s to be like in real life? Anyway, I suppose I mentioned just then that Madhuri Dixit was in the film and I found it a waste of her talent since she really didn’t dance too much and her role was too brief. Kya waste hai! Here’s a taste of her dancing in a Holi number.
I don’t like seeing other people kissing, since it’s so private, so Hindi movies are perfect for me. Dayavan has a famous kissing scene between Madhuri and Vinood, in fact if you google videos for the film, the kissing scene is most prominent and you can see it here if you’re inclined. If you watch it please make note of how unconvincing Madhuri’s hands are in the scene, which reveals to me she was not comfortable filming it. I mean wouldn’t most women have more gusto in their grasp if sharing a moment with Vinod Khanna?
Let’s end with a few more memorable screen captures & subtitles from Dayavan:
Double point for me here, since the screen cap includes a subtitle with dacoity (which is even better than dacoitery in my book) and a lone bottle of Johnnie Walker black label, which is obviously better than red label, isn’t it? Look at Vinod Khanna’s intensity here when someone comes to him to get justice: Did I mention that Feroz Khan is in the movie? Seems like I’ve ignored him, but here he is, handling business!
And handing out a little vigilante justice, which I know chandelier connoisseur Shweta will enjoy:
During the course of the film, Dayavan’s daughter (Amala)avoids him due to his illegal work, and ironically she marries a police officer played by Aditya Pancholi, who is cheated, since she declared herself an orphan.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with declaring ourselves orphans now and again. Dayavan is a remake of the Tamil film called Nayagan (1987). Have you seen the movie in its original Tamilian form? I want to see it now in its pure form! Since I’ve focused on Vinood Khanna here, I must throw a bit of attention on his sons, Rahul and Akshaye, to balance out my Khanna-o-Rama contribution. I will ask you the ask the timeless question that Briyanshu posed: Rahul or Akshaye? HERE’S THE ANSWER. Now I command you to click on this feast of Khanna-o-Rama blog posts to fulfill all of your Khanna Family desires.