Friday, May 05, 2006


“Sholay” is arguably one of the best films ever made in the Indian film industry and of course, is one of the most successful Hindi movies of all times. It is most definitely one of my favourite films and I don’t even remember the number of times I have seen the movie. I even remember most of the dialogues of the film. And anybody who’s a film buff and who’s grown up in the 70’s and the 80’s would invariably swear by the magic of Sholay.

Inspired from the famous “Seven Samurais”, Sholay was produced by G. P. Sippy and directed by Ramesh Sippy. The main lead actors in the movie were Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri, Hema Malini and Amjad Khan. The script-story-screenplay was by Salim-Javed. The writer duo of Salim-Javed are largely responsible for the “angry-young-man” image of Amitabh Bachchan. During the mid 70’s, Salim-Javed just could not go wrong with their story-telling abilities and in creating the angry-young-man persona for Amitabh Bachchan. Whatever they wrote for Amitabh, turned into gold at the box office. But more of that later. This is about Sholay.

Individual performances in the movie were also outstanding. Sanjeev Kumar as the gritty “Thakur saheb”, Dharmendra as the dare-devil- funny-romantic “Veeru”, Amitabh as the dare-devil-but-silent-brooding-lover “Jai”, Hema Malini as the ever so talkative “Basanti”, Jaya Bhaduri as the widow who has lost everything but had a glimmer of hope when she meets Jai and to top it all the unforgettable “Gabbar Singh”. It would be surprising to note that Sholay was Amjad Khan’s debut and the impact that he created with the character is unparalled in Hindi cinema.

The breathtaking action sequences in the film were simply amazing keeping in mind that in the mid-70’s they did not have all the technology (that we today have) at their disposal. One performance that stood out in the movie was that of Sanjeev Kumar’s. It would be very difficult to put down his performance in words. So, I’ll just stick one simple word – “Awesome”. Dharmendra’s entire drunken act (on top of the water tank) wanting to take “Mausiji’s” permission to marry Hema Malini cannot be replilcated. For some very strange reason, Dharmendra’s potential as a comic actor has not been fully exploited by any director (save and except an aberration called “Chupke Chupke” by Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

The script of Sholay is one of the best scripts ever written even by Salim – Javed’s standards. The characterizations in the movie was amazing because each and every character in the movie, (be it the lead actors or even actors who had just a couple of scenes) were so well etched and thought out that almost all of them are remembered even today i.e., almost 31 years after the movie was first released.

For e.g., the character of “Sambha” did not have any dialogues. But he’s still remembered today. The character of “Kaalia” is associated with three short lines:

Gabbar: “tera kya hoga kaalia”
Kaalia: “sardar, maine aapka namak khaaya hai”,
Gabbar: “to ab goli khaa”

However, these three lines were good enough to transport Amjad Khan and Viju Khote into Hindi film industry’s hall of fame and he would be forever remembered as Gabbar and Kaalia. For that matter even Sambha (who virtually had no lines in the film) is still remembered today.

Or for that matter, the character played by A. K. Hangal (with his unforgettable “itna sannatta kyoon hai bhai!!), Sachin (Ahmed), Satyen Kappu (Ramlal), Jagdeep (Soorma Bhopali), Asrani (Angrezi Jailer), Keshto Mukherjee (Hariram Nayee) etc. have become legendary and are remembered even today. Last but not the least, the ever-energetic-ready-to-save-Basanti-from-dacoits DHANNO has become legendary as well.

The entire sequence of Asrani’s “Hum angrezon ke zamane ke jailer hai!” scenes are the funniest scenes ever in terms of comic timing, dialogue delivery and chemistry between the actors. Not to forget “Hariram Nayee” in these sequences as the Jailer’s spy in the prison.

Another unforgettable funny performance is Jagdeep’s Soorma Bhopali. Once again, excellent comic timing and brilliant dialogue delivery. It is said that when Javed Akhtar was explaining the character of Soorma Bhopali to Jagdeep, Jagdeep was so intensely involved that not only he picked up the characterization and diction of Soorma Bhopali to the “T”, but he also used Javed Akhtar’s lisp in the film adding a comic flavour to his character.

The music of Sholay was by R. D. Burman and the lyrics were by Anand Bakshi. All the songs of Sholay were big hits. “Mehbooba” is still one of the more popular tracks that is played in discos and “Holi Ke Din” is played at various places every year on the occasion of Holi.

Sholay had all the ingredients that film makers today consider essential elements for making a successful film. It had action, drama, romance, comedy and top class performances from all the actors.

Sholay had a record run at the box office which stood for almost three decades. I am not sure but recently Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (Yashraj Films) has broken the record set by Sholay for being the longest running movie in a single theatre. Honestly, I think comparing these two movies (strictly from the longer run at the theatre perspective) would be really unfair because the market, audience numbers, theatres etc. that were prevailing in Mid-70’s and in Mid-90’s were really different and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge had the backing of the big-daddy of film industry i.e., Yash Chopra and was being directed by his son Aditya Chopra. Be that as it may, both films are close to my heart and I would like to stop the comparison here itself.

Unfortunately, Ramesh Sippy could not repeat the success of Sholay. In one of his interviews, Ramesh Sippy has said that if he were to try to make the movie again, he would not succeed. Personally, I think that nobody can remake Sholay and re-create the same magic. There are rumours / news that Ram Gopal Varma may be toying with the idea of remaking Sholay. Without meaning any offence to anybody, my personal view is that nobody would be able to re-create the magic that Sholay was, is and will always remain.

More about some interesting trivia on Sholay in my next entry.

Does anybody have any views on the above?


KBR said...

Well written. SHOLAY a movie which has inspired countless others took its own inspiration from 4 of the finest films ever made.

Kurusawa's 7 Samurai, john sturges's Magnificent 7, Sergeo Leonne's Once upon a time in the west and Raj Khosla's mera gaon mera desh (starring dharmendra, who flipped a coin for everything, a dacoit named JABBAR SINGH). While sholay borrowed the basic plot from the first 2 films, it replicated various shots from the Leonne epic. From the harmonica, the family massacre scene and cut to the shot of the train, to the dresses worn by Dharmendra (Charles Bronson is a red t-shit and blue jeans all the time). Sholay did all this and yet it is unarguably the best hindi movie of all time (Satyajit Ray himself calls it a masterpiece).

It has everything to offer - romance, comedy, pathos, action, adventure. A big jigsaw puzzle where everything fit into place for sheer magic.

We all know everything about the characters they have become a part of our daily lives. It has been the most watched movie by Indians ever and will continue to be so for a long time.

Till next time…

pappupager said...

Hey Rai, that's very interesting trivia. Thanks for responding. I was aware of Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven, But wasn't aware of Sergeo Leonne's Once upon a time in the west. I am just adding another posting on some interesting trivia on Sholay.