Parinda ★★★★½

VVC is an interesting and flawed figure in Hindi cinema, an exceptionally talented FTII graduate who started his career with sly, inventive small films (the most beloved being the film-set murder mystery Khamoshi) and ended his career with towering, bloated spectacles, each less loved than the last, and Parinda the pivot point in his career. Similarly Hindi movies themselves were at a cusp point in the late 80s, the decade being a great one for small independent film but a disaster for masala tradition with dozens of shoddy, tossed-off films from once great filmmakers and stars (tellingly Amitabh's most fallow and flailing period) and heading into the awful globalized excess of the '90s. In hindsight Parninda and a small handful of classically styled masala films (Ram Lakhan, Tezaab, Batwara) seeming more like a funeral for the genre than a new lease on life.

Surprising to me that there's so little to no writing to be found on this film given that Nana Patekar's Anna is clearly one of the legendary villains of Hindi cinema, up there with Gabbar Singh and Mogambo. The little writing I found mostly speaks of this film as one of the many successors to Nayagan which gets (rightly) credited with having irreversibly changed the Indian gangster film set in Mumbai. And yet, watching it, I think where it really differs from Nayagan or Satya is that whereas both Mani and RGV despite their love of Bombay and cinema seem less beholden to the 70s Bombay Masala films of Salim-Javed with their warring brothers and mythological overtones as compared to VVC. This film takes the pivotal conceit of Deewaar and mutates it thereby revealing the true deep darkness at it's center. Sure, Anil and Madhuri are the virtuous ones even color-coded in virginal whites and matching pale pastels but mostly come off as wilfully naive. Jackie's early monologue keeps echoing through the film making it impossible to easily take sides. Likewise the eerie screams of Nana Patekar's wife and child. Here, there's no Ma or even God that any of these men can or know to run to. No miracle one can hope for. Everything just goes up in flames and we cremate the people we love the most.

<small spoiler>
is this the only one of those films where it's the lawful brother that dies while the other lives on?</spoiler>