adults, a young boy and a girl, and a toddler sat down before
the television to watch Sholay (a Hindi film released
in 1975). It was an impromptu decision. Someone had a DVD handy,
and one could see that the casual conversation on that particular
day wasn't going anywhere. Watching an old favourite sounded
like a good idea.
I have little
knowledge about the impact this movie had on the viewers in
Bangladesh, but in India, Sholay laid down a new set of rules
in film entertainment, which till date directors scramble to
emulate, but something that frankly, even Ramesh Sippy (the
director of this movie) hasn't been able to recreate since.
with everything else in Bollywood, every success spawns a series
of clones over the next several years. It is everything to do
with the dearth of original ideas in Bollywood and it's tendency
to hitch a piggyback ride on someone else's success. In the
case of Sholay, so stupendous was its success that
Bollywood still hasn't tired of innumerable name-alikes and
theme-alikes even after three decades. Angaarey aur Sholay,
Sholay Aur Angaarey (the two are different movies),
Ramgarh Ke Sholay (a comic deception in this name,
as the original movie's story is also based entirely in a village
with a screen name Ramgarh), Dil Mein Uthay Sholay,
etc. As you would have guessed, these others sank without a
phenomenal success of this movie made it an institution in itself.
In parts of India, Mumbai for instance, it ran for five years
at a single theatre! People would give all to 'learn' more about
the film and the behind-the-scenes stories. Sholay-specific
quizzes and game-shows are organised till date.
Sholay is a very 'male' thing to do. Indeed, this story is about
male-bonding at it's cheerful, bonhomous, tragically inseparable
best. I know I risk being branded a sexist, but that is indeed
how it is. A recent issue of Time magazine says that
it “maybe the burliest male love story ever made”. I'd say it
is one of the most evocatively done movies ever. Sure, the concept
may be a blatant lift from the popular westerners, blue denim,
broad leather belts, sudden draw of guns, et al, but the execution
was quintessentially Bollywood--the vibrancy of youthfulness
pitted against the hurting blandness of a young widow in white,
song and dance (and yet, no duet!), revenge, slick action, love
gained, love lost, love yearned for, love found and lost again,
comedy ranging from the slapstick to the subtle (but always
so memorable) it is the microcosm of Hindi masala movies. And
yet, there is no vulgarity, no crudeness, no gore, no clichés.
If revisited now, most of the dialogues and situations may seem
hackneyed, but that's because we have seen umpteen number of
bad copies of this movie and the story-line. The rugged terrain,
Gabbar's volcanic, yet remarkably restrained histrionics, the
implied gun-shots, Sholay is a brilliant tale of gamesmanship,
grit, and gumption.
get heightened even on the 100th re-run of the film. You feel
your senses numbing at the point the swords hack off the Thakur's
arms. The gradual tragic build-up with the frozen frames of
the wounded falling relatives in the prelude to this climax,
the still silence exacerbated by the pathos of the squeaking
oscillating swing. Most women instantly recoil in shock and
fear at the impending gore, many plainly refusing to look at
the screen. Those who have seen the film before urge these women
to look on, “They don't actually show anything. It's all implied”.
The men laud the scene for it's masterful conception and execution,
the brilliance of showing the horror through the Thakur's eyes
is not a Mother India or a Mughale Aazam (two
other Hindi classics) where the tears you shed are agonisingly
personal. Not so with Sholay. This movie's pathos is
meant to be shared, and as such, suffered together; the bonhomie
between the two outlaws can be understood only when you have
a Jay and Veeru in your midst. You need to have had a Jay or
Veeru in your own life earlier. As I said ealier, the film is
evocative. Bitter-sweet, but very evocative.
so the legend lives on. Sholay transcends all barriers
of language, which is what made it hugely successful even in
South-India, which is usually quite circumspect of movies made
in Bollywood. That evening, one of the adults, a male naturally,
even after twenty eight years of it's release, knew all the
dialogues verbatim. I know of many more like him in India. One
of us challenged the others to spot even a drop of blood in
this supposedly violent movie. He lost the challenge, we spotted
four miniscule drops somewhere in the back-drop. The young boy
was awestruck at the slick action sequences with horses and
bandits and trains. The young girl guffawed at the vivacious
Basanti's chatterings. The toddler refused to be put to bed.
The adults remained transfixed.
charm of Sholay still holds, ask this motley group!