I have to admit it, with a heavy heart and a freelance writer's objectivity that there are many films of the action adventure genre that are....(Sholay fans, brace for impact!) better than Sholay. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) trilogy is one movie experience where the special effects fit in like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to the scheme of things. Then there is the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western trilogy starring Clint Eastwood - A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and the grand finale The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). Sholay (1975) is wedged between these half-a-dozen films, an unlikely contender, a dark horse claimant to cinematic glory.
The love of Monologue
So why do I love Sholay? That despite the western garb, Sholay is the quintessential Hindi commercial film. Unlike the Leone films, Sippy's characters speak a lot, monologues are a fad. Gabbar Singh has his outraged sessions, Veeru does a drunken over the top, over the water tank slurring, Soorma Bhopali has a hapless exaggerated story to tell, Basanti elaborates breezily on her career choice and finally Imam Sahab has the most poignant of all the monologues to deliver. Usually a film has a single engaging cameo, Sholay has a whole motley hoard of them, all in varied shades, much like the holi song lyrics - Holi ke din dil khil jaate hai, rangon mein rang mil jaate hai..(On the day of holi, hearts bloom, colours merge in to colours...)
The late Indian writer RK Narayan may scowl from up there when I say that just like Malgudi, Ramgarh is a place where time stands still. That even in this age of cell phones, social networking narcissism and motor vehicles (neigh?!), the characters of Sholay are destined to play their parts over and over again. So here's to Gabbar lifting two menacing swords, Veeru shooting down mangoes and Jai flinging that stick of dynamite...one more time!