Friday, June 29, 2007


Everyone knows Sholay.

Released on August 15, 1975, Ramesh Sippy's Sholay remains the iconic Hindi movie of all time. "It's a part of India's heritage," says director Dharmesh Dharshan.

Legend has it that after hearing the script, Amitabh wanted to play Gabbar Singh and Dharmendra wanted Sanjeev's role; writers Sailm-Javed had a hard time convincing them to play their assigned parts.
Dharmendra recently mentioned in a rare NDTV interview that the stories about him giving up on the demand to play Thakur Baldev Singh because Sanjeev Kumar would have ended up playing his  love interest, Hema Malini's hero were made up. Dharmendra said that he had never expressed any intention to play Thakur.

For the first time, the music company Polydor sold dialogue audio cassettes of a movie in millions as the film gained cult status. They continue to sell till date. Gabbar's dialogues are now part of Indian culture. You can hear them anywhere in the country, children to elderly people will oblige you with their renditions. Gabbar's pronouncements can be heard them in jokes, weddings, gatherings; advertisements have wrung the movie lines dry. Satire, books, headlines, daily talk, all have allusions to Sholay's dialogues.

Amjad and Hema did this scene over several retakes, until Hema's arm was sore with bruises.

In Sholay (Original Cut), Thakur Baldev Singh uses his thorn shoes to maim Gabbar's hands. Two equals, they fight until Gabbar is killed, trampled like a snake under Thakur's feet. Thakur breaks down with relief. The censors did not want this 'anti- establishment' ending during the time of 1975 emergency, and stalled the film's release. Pushed to a corner, Ramesh Sippy had to re-shoot an alternate ending with the police arriving from nowhere, as we see it today. I have been fortunate enough to view the original cut, that includes another extended scene - Ahmed's Execution.

The iconic status of the film lives on with T-shirts and graphically designed posters, among other memorabilia. Ram Gopal Varma may may tried hard in Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, his 2007 remake, but SHOLAY (1975) is forever.