Oh, I don’t want to write about this part! It was hard enough watching it. But I will try to force myself, just for the sake of completion (part 1 here and part 2 here and part 3 here and part 4 here and part 5 here)
In the last parts, the first 2/3rds of the movie happened. Shahrukh rose to be the top bootlegger of the state, partly because of a native ambition, and partly because it seemed like the only way to protect his people from poverty, from the police, from everything else that threatened them. But they were still under threat, this time from politicians. Despite being firmly in Shahrukh’s pocket, taking bribes and drinks from him, “Pasha”, the head of the opposition, declared he would run a Yatra against drinking through Shahrukh’s area. Shahrukh threatened back that he would kill him if he tried. And Nawazuddin, the “honest cop” who is obsessed with bringing Shahrukh down, overheard their conversation through his phone tap and leaked it to the press. Once the media got involved, both men had no choice but to follow through. Pasha with the Yatra, and Shahrukh with stopping it. And, in a glorious and fairly specific reference to the Ram Rath Yatra’s, Shahrukh prepared his neighborhood, set up warning posts and organized a battle plan, and went to war. Ultimately driving the whole Yatra, truck and cops and men with swords included, back and out of his area and away from his people. Huge crowd-pleasing moment, and probably the whole reason Shahrukh agreed to take this role.
It was also, just telling you now, the emotional peak of the film and everything goes horribly wrong immediately afterwards. Well, starts to go wrong. And, as I said in my SPOILERS review, it feels like his ultimate enemy should have been the politicians, they are the ones who are constantly making moves to bring him down, not the police. The whole veer towards a Nawazuddin/Shahrukh showdown felt false.
Like, right here, after the riot battle, the Chief Minister is being challenged by reporters to do something, or else it will look like he was working with Raees to bring down his enemy. And so he meets Raees, alone, on a hill with the lights of the city behind them, to beg him to agree to go to jail. Just for show, he can have every accommodation while he is there.
This is a really epic scene, in terms of how it looks. The lighting is dark, just the headlights of their cars to show their faces and everything else in shadow. It’s from farther back too, most of the time we see their full bodies, Shahrukh striding around and thinking and the CM asking him for help. Shahrukh has so much more power here, in the way he is moving and talking, versus the CM. It is clear that Shahrukh is the one who owns and runs the city behind them. It is what he deserves and earned through his actions. The CM is asking him to give that up, to allow a pretense that the CM is actually in charge. Using his weakness as a strength, begging for help. Which is something a truly strong person, like Shahrukh, cannot resist.
And it’s so dark! The “dark deeds” that Shahrukh does are actually occurring in the bright light of day. He is selling alcohol on the streets, bringing in trucks and ships during the day, there is nothing he is “ashamed of” about what he is doing. But this, this secret meeting with no witnesses, this is the truly shameful act, for the minister to meet him here and beg him to lower himself. And for him to go along with it, although he has done nothing wrong, just to cover up for someone else.
Although at first the jail doesn’t look that bad, the jailer wishes him “Salaam Alaikum” and greets him as “Bhai” and opens the door for him into the cell. By the way, did you notice that the very first words out of our central character’s mouth, back in his childhood flashback intro, were “Salaam Alaikum”? This is such a Muslim role! It’s so exciting!
(Also, this song kept going through my head!)
Moving on, Shahrukh is in jail but still in contact with everybody. We see Mahira counting money, and the phone rings next to her, and it’s Shahrukh. Sitting in his cell, with a private phone handed through the bars. So the Minister wasn’t kidding about making him comfortable even in jail. He tells Mahira he is calling just because he is missing her. She is delighted and immediately tells him how much money they took in that day. He points out that he was just calling because he missed her, not to find out how much money they made. Mahira gets all touched and says “really”? And Shahrukh starts joking, saying “wait, only 22,000?” Meanwhile, Nawazuddin, late at night at his phone taping station, is listening to the whole thing, and hangs up at this point with a little smile.
It’s a cute moment between husband and wife, showing that she truly is his partner in every way, and being all flirty too with him teasing her about not believing he just called because he was missing her. But it is more interesting, to me, for what it says about Nawazuddin’s character. He will listen in on their private talk, and even enjoy it. He is getting to know Shahrukh as well as any of his closest friends. But it doesn’t effect him, once the conversation turns to the personal from the professional, he immediately sets aside the headset. On the one hand, this is courteous, to let them have their time together. But on the other hand, it shows how kind of heartless he is. He still only sees these people as criminals to be trapped and hunted, not as real people.
Which is why Nawazuddin is so happy when his dog (Bobby!) brings him the paper the next day and he sees a photo of the Chief Minister and Pasha, his opponent, holding hands on the cover. He goes to taunt Shahrukh in his cell, telling him that they have come together, there is no escape for him now, they have sworn to hunt him down together. He should get used to “police station tea”. Shahrukh just listens without giving anything away. And then looks momentarily worried once Nawazuddin leaves, before having an idea with a smile, and kicking over the cup of tea left in his cell.
I was debating using the word “taunt” up there. But no, this really is a taunt! It just doesn’t feel like it, because it is delivered by cool and classy Nawazuddin, not some fratboy type. But he went out of his way to prove to Shahrukh that he had defeated him, once and for all. Nawazuddin is still invested in their competition, while Shahrukh just wants to get out of jail and protect his business and family.
And so, when he announces to Mahira and Sadiq that he is running for office, he does it while holding hands with Mahira through the bars of the cell. This isn’t a moment of pride or hunger for power, this is a desire to get out of jail and be with his people. Oh, and his campaign isn’t run or won by his criminal power, no, Sadiq is in charge of arranging the funds, it is Mahira who announces she will take the lead in campaigning, as his wife. And that he will win because “he has done a lot for the people.”
I love the title song, it has one of the few visuals that was put in just to be pretty instead of in ruthless service of the narrative, when the small children are running through the streets with the Shahrukh flags on their backs. But it also feels like the last moment of the film that was planned to happen, that should have happened.
(and the title song is not yet on youtube. So you have to make do with this still instead)
Shahrukh wins the election because the people love him. And he ran for office because he wanted to make sure he couldn’t be scape-goated by those in power again. So, isn’t the next step for him to take office and start doing things in government? To leverage this power in some way? Why doesn’t that happen?
Instead, we get a ridiculous scene that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. When he takes Mahira to the land he bargained for from the Chief Minister and was planning to build on before he went to jail. And he gives this whooooooole monologue about it, gesturing and moving around, while she listens all big-eyed and spellbound and worshipful.
This is just SO WRONG!!! For one thing, Shahrukh’s character has never been shown to talk this much before. And when he does talk, it’s not with poetic phrases and big gestures, it’s straight and to the point. Also, he doesn’t like open spaces, he doesn’t like sunshine, he likes city streets and courtyards and dark rooms.
Mahira is all wrong too. She isn’t someone to be worshipful and silent. She is always challenging him and cutting him down. That’s what appeals to him in the first place! Where is this strange Stepford wife version coming from?
I know you can explain it, you can say that he is revealing a new part of himself, that Mahira ultimately loves him and admires him, all of that. But even so, the way he is talking, the language style, the posture, the hand gestures, it’s all just totally different from his behavior in the rest of the film. Almost like Shahrukh came back to do this 10 months later and accidentally did it as his Dear Zindagi character instead. Or like he just could not connect with this scene in character, because IT’S NOT SOMETHING HIS CHARACTER WOULD DO!!!!!
(Dear Zindagi Shahrukh, on the other hand, was all about long speeches that were respectfully listened to0
The next scene is slightly more in character, but not really. He is talking to a group of people in his neighborhood, explaining the building plan to them, with graphics and diagrams. While Mahira and Sadiq sit next to him, all admiring and approving. The idea fits with his character, to build a housing development and sell units at low cost to his neighbors. But this whole dog and pony show about it, that doesn’t work for me. It’s a nice visual, directors always like the fancy graphics to go along with speeches, but that’s not really something that our gritty bootlegger Shahrukh would bother with. Especially when just doing a presentation to his friends and neighbors.
And his housing scheme isn’t exactly in character either. We’ve seen him give charity before, but always in a way that either didn’t cost him anything, or ultimately benefited him. He is too canny to take this kind of risk, to put in a huge investment and drag his friends along with him, with no promise of a reward in the end. And way way too canny to give them the kind of commitment he does here, that they will own their homes from day one and be happy there always.
And then it all moves forward super fast! The leases are printed up, the building starts, and suddenly Shahrukh is standing there watching the construction crews work. Cons: completely confusing timeline, out of character planning. Pros: really really flattering shirt! Nice vents by the color, narrowing down towards the waist, all just very good. And the triumphal Trishul-style shot of him watching the bulldozers let’s us all admire how good it makes his back look.
(Remember how Amitabh in Trishul was always standing around in a nice shirt with construction equipment around him?)
Nawazuddin is also there (perhaps drawn by the excellent back view?). Shahrukh greets him with seemingly sincere enthusiasm and immediately offers him chai, continuing that theme in their relationships. Nawazuddin takes the chai (something Shahrukh has never taken from him), and lets Shahrukh know that he is now promoted to superintendent of crime. Shahrukh smiles and reassures him that he had nothing to do with this particular promotion. And he offers to set aside a place for him in “My/Our World” housing development. And Nawazuddin responds by offering to save him a place in “his world” (meaning jail).
Just like from the start, Shahrukh is friendly and interested and generous. And Nawazuddin is always more focused on the game, the clever retort, the threat. Starting with this scene, where we learn that despite Shahrukh’s machinations, Nawazuddin has been promoted, the ending begins to be inevitable. I’m reminded of Kabali, where the ultimate lesson was that gangs may come and gangs may go, but the police and the government are the biggest gang of all. Nawazuddin will always fall up, no matter what Shahrukh does.
And the politicians will always win too. They are sitting around complaining about Shahrukh, how now he is building people homes and they love him even more, when random events conspire to help them bring him down. This bit is just as contrived as everything else post-Big Speech Scene. But I can see how if, it wasn’t this, it would have been something else. The politicians would always have found some excuse to bring down this rising power in society. It just happened to be this particular excuse, a phone call from Delhi that there has been an explosion and riots are breaking out around the country.
I like the little madlibs of riot causes that they have picked from. A train disaster, like the Godhra train fire. But against Muslims, like the Ayodha Masjid destruction, instead of Hindus. Very nice, you get the ultimate effect of the Ayodha dispute (clearly the rest of the film is inspired by Abdul Latif’s involvement in the 1993 Bomb Blasts) with the anger of the Muslim community in reaction to the destruction and the ensuing riots. But also with a little bitty nod to the 2002 riots along with the Gujurat setting.
(Still not putting up riot pictures. Look at John Abraham with a puppy!)
But the end result is ridiculous! As I already discussed in my speculative alternate endings post. The beginning of the problem is great, we see Nawazuddin assigned to maintain order in Shahrukh’s area, and the police deciding to declare a curfew. The shutters go down on the shops and only police vehicles are allowed in the streets. And then we see the workroom in Shahrukh’s space turned into a kitchen. Huge pots making rice, alcohol bottles being used to carry milk. And the police vans (no doubt acquired through nefarious means) used to deliver food. And while Shahrukh is not present, Mahira is giving specific directions, which families get milk for babies, etc.
Now, this works. Sort of. I still have a hard time with the riot ex machina kind of ending. But I like how, without actually saying it to us, we get to see that the government which is supposed to be concerned with protecting the people is only focused on protecting itself from bad publicity and therefore declaring a curfew to avoid riots. While Shahrukh, the person the government sees as “the enemy”, is the one actually doing the work of the government, caring for these people.
But it is the end result of all of these kind of reasonable events that just DOES NOT WORK for me. Although it is filmed in a really nice way. We go from seeing the stamp come down rejecting Shahrukh’s building project file, to a ringing phone in a storage room. There are boxes of alcohol piled everywhere. Sadiq strolls over and picks up the phone and sets it down again immediately without answering. Shahrukh moves into the frame, in darker clothes than usual to match the darker color tone of this scene (in stark contrast to the last time we saw him, at the construction site in the very very good pale tan shirt). He asks Sadiq why he didn’t take an order, and Sadiq says it is just another creditor calling. No orders with curfew. Shahrukh asks why they have creditors, and Sadiq points out that groceries for 4 colonies, plus paying the construction crew, does not come cheap. He suggests that perhaps they cut out the Hindu colony and Shahrukh immediately jumps on him saying no, they will never consider religion. And he also will not stop construction. They will figure out a different way.
What the heck?!?!? Lovely anti-communalism message there, but couldn’t they have found a less on the nose way of saying it? At the very least, don’t have Shahrukh declare it while facing the camera head on, and facing away from the person he is supposed to be talking to. And also, what’s got the grocers so worried? Shahrukh is supposed to be the most powerful and wealthy man in the area, and they have alcohol stacked up all around waiting to be sold. And it’s not like that goes bad. So why not let the bills go for now? I mean, it’s groceries! It’s not going to keep, and no one else is buying, why not let Shahrukh get it on credit as long as he wants?
(See how Lara Dutta is bargaining with the grocer here? She wouldn’t have to bargain if she was THE ONLY CUSTOMER! Also, I am so glad I was able to come up with an excuse to insert this happy song in this depressing post)
Also, why not stop the construction? What harm does it do to put that aside for a few weeks? None of this situation is supposed to be permanent. The curfew will lift, they can sell the liquor, make money, pay their debts, and life will move on. Make the reasoned choice, Shahrukh! As you have for the ENTIRE REST OF THE FILM!!!!
And, okay, the next bit kind of makes sense again. Sort of. Of course the petty politicians are going to be jealous and angry at how Shahrukh is getting credit for doing the good that they should be doing. And they will use their powers of petty bureaucracy to fight back, by stamping Shahrukh’s land into “green zone”, making it illegal to develop it.
And now we are back in Shahrukh’s dark dark office. Hats off to the lighting people, by the way. Shahrukh has always worked in the shadows, it only makes sense that he would have interior storage rooms and working areas. But in previous scenes, while the light was distinctly interior, it still felt “light”. But now, the tone has changed just a bit to make it feel suddenly oppressive, trapped, isolated.
Shahrukh pulls open the safe to look at a small stack of bills, and then turns on Sadiq to demand, “What are the accounts?” This is a different kind of Shahrukh than we have seen before but, unlike the stupid monologue scene, it feels in tune with his previous versions. This is the angry extreme of him, but his movements, his efficient speech, all of that is still recognizably part of the character we have been watching all along. And Sadiq’s response is the angry extreme of his recognizable character as well. He refuses to give accounts, his response carries within it all the anger of “I have been loyal and your friend our entire lives, how DARE you ask me for accounts!” And that it is Shahrukh who has brought them to this end, despite his warnings, they can’t keep paying for food and workman and everything else.
And then Mahira appears. As is only right. We saw this scene play out hours/months earlier, when Shahrukh was joking with her about the phone system. And in that case, Sadiq was the later arrival, taking her side against Shahrukh. They are a team, an inseparable threesome. While Shahrukh is inarguably the leader and the center, Mahira and Sadiq provide balance against him. And mutual protection for each other. And so Mahira’s reaction here is to immediately ask why Shahrukh is yelling at Sadiq? And Sadiq’s reaction is to share information with her that Shahrukh was keeping from her. Telling her that the site has been green zoned, they can no longer work on the development.
The blocking for this scene is perfect. Shahrukh is in the forefront, moving back and forth, but silent. Mahira and Sadiq are facing him and watching him. They are talking to each other, but they are really talking to Shahrukh and for Shahrukh through each other, if that makes sense. Sadiq is telling Mahira the information that Shahrukh needs her to have but cannot bring himself to say it himself. And Mahira is asking him the questions she wants to be asking Shahrukh but cannot bring herself to ask him.
And finally, it all comes out. Shahrukh has used up all their savings on his election campaign, construction crews, and feeding all the people for the past 3 weeks. And now they have lost the construction permit and all their neighbors have lost all their deposit money. This is what causes Mahira to take panic, what will happen to everyone’s money? And just like in the pre-interval scene, it doesn’t feel like she is being the nagging wife. It feels like she is expressing his innermost thoughts, reading his feelings more clearly than he is willing to. This is Shahrukh’s over-whelming concern as well. And he can’t bare to be confronted with it, this is what forces him to finally rejoin the conversation, instead of letting Mahir and Sadiq speak for him. And this is when their relationship, all three of them, is fully tested. Shahrukh approaches Mahira with anger in his face and Sadiq quickly steps between them. And then Mahira steps in front of Sadiq. Shahrukh is the most powerful one of the trinity, but while the other two respect his power, they do not fear it. Or, I’ll put it another way, they both feel it is their place to stand in front of him and take his anger, that they have that right.
In the end, it is Shahrukh’s confrontation with them that sends him on his little backlot walk of sadness. Most of the rest of the film I didn’t notice that the neighborhood was constructed, not a location. But this sequence, with the overhead shots and all, just made it really really obvious. And that obviousness somehow makes the whole thing kind of, well, cheesy looking? With the figures standing in doorways and all that. It should be an emotional high point of the film, and I’m just not feeling it.
(really, so fake! I kept waiting for the moment it pulls back and we see the camera and crew like in “Jag Soona Soona”)
What does work is the end of the song when Shahrukh returns to his home, and quietly falls to pieces huddled in Mahira’s lap. He even cries like Raees here! Not the same way he cries as other characters, but ugly powerful crying. Not the kind of nose twitchy drying he usually does.
And then we are back in the butcher area in Bombay. It’s a quick shot, I missed it the first few times, but Shahrukh and Sadiq are walking through the same area they arrived in however many years ago for the first time. Only instead of walking into a fight, they are being greeted with respect as they pass through. It’s a nice small sign of how far they have come, and how much they have to lose.
Up in the office, Musa and his pockmarked assistant are talking. The assistant is running through everyone they have already approached who have turned down the delivery they need. And then he mentions that Shahrukh has arrived, he is in debt up to his neck. And Musa nods, and says to show him in.
And then they play the scam on Shahrukh that I mentioned as another area that I have a hard time with. Pretending that they have already given the delivery to someone else but, as a huge favor, they will cancel that and give it to Shahrukh. How can he not see through this? Even when desperate?
I guess it kind of works if you look at it from the other side, how inevitable it was that Shahrukh would reach this point. He had no economic opportunities, the police never trusted him and the government never helped him. He had to turn to crime because it was the only route open to him. And, because he had been forced into this life, he was easy pickings for a more powerful and amoral criminal. This moment was always inevitable, at some point he would be driven to a breaking point. And Musa knew that, he was waiting for this moment, when he could use one of the many small criminals he has been cultivating to do a nasty job without fully understanding what they are part of.
It’s not just Shahrukh that is being used. Shahrukh brings in Damlal Seth, his old smuggler friend. Who then brings in the coast guard itself, a cheerful coast guard officer who checks the boxes to make sure they only contain gold, and then transfers them to his own ship for delivery. This whole little crew of harmless small time criminals has been drawn into events over which they have no knowledge or control.
And, temporarily, it works. Shahrukh receives a duffel bag of money, and he goes home. To find Mahira and the miraculously shrinking baby (still only a few months old. Despite a phone tapping, a riot, a jail term, a political campaign, a construction project, and a curfew all taking place in his short life) laying (lying?) in bed together. It took me a few watches to notice what Shahrukh does when he lies down next to them. His lips barely move in a tiny prayer, and then a long exhale of blessing first on the baby, then on Mahira. It’s a lovely moment, showing his gratitude towards and his faith in God, and his love for his family.
And there’s a moment of celebration to follow, as he repays all the money they gave him to his neighbors. I still don’t get this, why they needed their money RIGHT NOW, or even why they were so grateful to get it. It’s just their life savings. “Savings”, as in, money they don’t need just this second. If they are going to get it back eventually, who cares if it is today or 3 months from today? And secondly, if they don’t even know that there was a problem with the construction, which was Shahrukh’s whole thing that he didn’t want his friends to know he was in trouble, then why the big relief and celebration?
(It’s not at all like this, but I love this song. Okay, maybe it’s kind of like this, only in a completely different way)
I understand why for narrative purposes, we needed happiness before the bad stuff started. But I think I might have liked it better if it had gone from that quiet prayerful moment to this one. With the TV playing and showing bomb blasts that have gone off across “cities in North India” (once again, violence madlibs! Bomb blasts organized from Bombay, like in 1993, but cities in North India, like the L-E-T blasts). Really nice small moment here, when Shahrukh sits up in bed to watch, and sort of taps Mahira on her shoulder, and she immediately reaches over to the bedside table to give him his glasses. It’s just such a married moment, that she sleeps on the outside side of the bed, which means she has to hand him his glasses.
And then the voice over comes down that the smuggling of the bomb supplies was tracked to Gujurat. And Nawazuddin goes into action. We see him turn off his TV, pick up his gun and his sunglasses, and walk out the door with a more purposeful stride than we have seen before. It’s like the trappings of rules and regulations and gamesmanship have all been dropped off, and the raw power of the police is revealed. And it continues to be revealed while Nawazuddin stands in the corner and watches first the truck driver, and then the coast guard officer, be tortured. I like it that he wasn’t actually torturing, that would have been out of character for him, he isn’t the type to get his hands dirty. But he also isn’t the type to hesitate to use his power to get his way. Or to feel sensitive or regretful about the pain of others.
Finally, the coast guard captain gives them name of Damlal Seth. On the orders of Raees. And we see Damlal, in his captain’s cabin, calling up Shahrukh, telling him that they were tricked, used, the packing materials in with the gold weren’t packing materials at all, they were bombs. Even though the coast guard checked and passed them, they were bombs. And there’s no getting away from this sin. Damlal ends by saying “Phir Milenge” (until we meet), and then shoots himself as the police arrive outside his cabin.
Okay, now that this has all started to blow up, I can talk in specifics. Do you remember the big debate about Yakub Menon? He was Tiger Menon’s brother, and Tiger was directly implicated in the 1993 blasts. Tiger is still at large, but Yakub was captured. Yakub was absolutely involved with Tiger’s criminal operation. He helped with funding, and even hid weapons. But he was not clearly involved in the actually bombings. And yet, he was hung. In India, where the death penalty is extremely rare (only 5 times since 1995, not like in America where we are killing people every day). This was so unusual, that it made its way into my little film news enclave when Salman tweeted support for Yakub.
(Not doing bombing photos either. But look at Salman kissing his dog! So cute!)
And, I think, that is kind of what this part of the film is about. Not Yakub specifically (his situation clearly involved some idea of punishing his family by killing him, which isn’t present here), but the idea of these small time criminals being barely culpable, not knowing what they were doing, taking precautions against it even (making sure the coast guard checked the packages to ensure no drugs or anything else harmful came in with the harmless gold), they are the ones the police and government can reach. And so they are victimized a second time, given punishment far out weighing their crime. And they take the punishment, this is the sign of how their victimization is just as much as anyone else. Damlal doesn’t wait to die at the hands of the police, he kills himself. And he knows that Shahrukh will be doing the same soon. That they are ultimately decent men, who cannot life with this guilt and will welcome their own deaths. I know that sounds like it is illogical, if they want to die then why do I blame the police for taking advantage of their lack of power and killing them? But it’s kind of, their very eagerness for punishment shows that they don’t deserve it. They already feel regret, guilt, they will never do such a thing again. They shouldn’t be the ones who are tortured and killed. They should be the ones given just punishment and then forgiven.
Shahrukh though, he already wants to die. Fida, in the comments, BLEW MY MIND when she described the rest of his actions as “suicide by cop”. All of a sudden this whole section fell into place. Shahrukh hangs up the phone with Damlal and takes of his glasses and wipes his eyes, and cries out “In trying to save my neighborhood, I have burnt down my city!” It’s a great epic cry, and it perfectly encapsulates the plight of these small criminals. They have a desperate life and death struggle right in front of them, they can’t afford to consider the bigger picture. But the flipside of this is that they shouldn’t have to consider the bigger picture. That is the job of the police and the government in general. And they have not been doing that job. Shahrukh’s people have been struggling, abused, starving, and no one has noticed them. That is what drove him to this point, and now he alone is carrying the guilt of his actions (both in his own mind and in the minds of the police).
Going back to Tiger versus Yakub Menon again. Tiger ran, he left the country, the police couldn’t touch him. But Yakub stayed, that’s why he was arrested. When Mahira argues with Shahrukh to run, she knows that he can survive if he runs. But Shahrukh knows that if he runs, the punishment that would come to him would just be passed down to those he loves. But he also knows that those above him will never be punished. They will run, they will put pressure where it can be put, they will not be punished.
And that’s why he has to do what he does. After sending Saqib and Mahira to the house of the Parsi doctor for safety. He reaches into his desk and pulls out a gun. And then we are back in Musa’s hide out. Shahrukh is called up, but Musa has him frisked first (showing that he must sense Shahrukh is not happy about what has occurred). The gun is found and taken. Which Shahrukh must have known would happen, right? I assume that he only brought it so that they would assume he was peaceful when he allowed them to take it.
Musa greets him with “Salaam Alaikum”. And then immediately starts telling Shahrukh that they will be blessed for their actions in heaven. Shahrukh is having none of this. And so Musa sets his pockmarked man on him, telling him “attack Battery!” This isn’t the first time Musa has referred to Shahrukh as “battery”, but it is the first to his face. In contrast, Nawazuddin and Sadiq, for instance, never call him battery even when he isn’t around. Their respect for him is so great that they could never refer to him that way, they see his greatness and know he is so much more. But Musa has always seen him as just “Battery”, no more, and is finally revealing that.
Of course, Shahrukh is more than that. In this scene in particular, he is almost supernatural. Hitting the pockmarked man in the throat, then taking his gun and shooting all his other attackers without even looking. You could argue that he has been there enough times that he knew where the guards would be coming from, you could argue that his adrenolyn was going and he had no fear of death. But I also think maybe it was supposed to be supernatural? As in, God was on his side, in this moment he was an instrument of vengeance.
And in the end, it is his connection to the people, his common touch, which sets him aside. After killing the rest, he goes to sit next to Musa. And he pulls out his glasses and calmly wipes the blood off of them, using Musa’s shirt. A lovely moment of practicality and equality. And finally he says “I am a businessman, but I do not trade in religion.” Again, this is the line between the small time crooks who get caught up in these things, and the Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Menons who lack the empathy to care about the consequences of their actions. And it is the human touch, his glasses, which he uses to give the final blow, driving them through Musa’s neck.
Okay, I really really want to end here. Like, end the film here. Because this is a much happier ending. But I can’t, so I will be back in a bit for the final tiny sad part. Because I feel like the end-end really deserves a post all to itself, even if it is just a small one.