Monday, December 30, 2013

Sholay 3D: On its way!

 Yes, we have heard it right, seen it right. The posters are out in the newspapers, TV promos are doing the rounds and multiplexes are flashing cardboard cut outs. Sholay 3D is certainly galloping its way to Pune theatres on January 3rd 2014. What about your city?  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sholay 3D: Cleared for Release

As on December 3rd 2013, the Bombay High Court discarded Ramesh Sippy's application for putting a hold on the release of Sholay 3D. Interestingly, the Sholay director sought the stay on the 3D version that has been incidentally produced by Sascha Sippy, his nephew. 

Ramesh Sippy's filed the appeal after the April 1 2013 Justice Kathawala judgement that lead to the rejection of a stay petition. Now that his latest appeal has been dismissed, we must expect that Sholay 3D will keep its appointment with cinema goers on January 3, 2014.    

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sholay Specials: Ramesh Sippy on 40 years of Sholay

It was on October 2, 1973 that Sholay was officially launched and exactly 40 years later Ramesh Sippy was interviewed at Ramanagaram, Karnataka by The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta. Ramanagaram was where most of Sholay was shot. Here are some snippets from the interview, as we chronicle parts of what Ramesh Sippy said:

On Sholay remake, sequel, parodies and 3D
...I think a classic like Sholay should be where it is. In 40 years, it's still remembered. I know, you can make a lot of money doing so. But what is the point in making a film which has still not been forgotten. Somehow, it doesn't feel right.
I don't think there's anything wrong in people remaking or doing sequels or all that, but somehow I don't think that Sholay is a film that should be touched. 

On Sanjeev Kumar dying young 
It is true. It was, unfortunately, a family thing. Everyone in his family had died young. He was, of course, another great guy, who loved his work and was superb. 

Why Ramanagaram?  
All the films that had been made on dacoity and banditry before this were made in the Chambal valley - be it Ganga Jumna, Mujhe Jeene Do, even the Raj Khosla film, Mera Gaon Mera Desh
I felt, let's make it different. Ram Yedekar was our art director. Being influenced by western cinema, we talked about those big boulders and things like that. He said,"I think I know just the place." He came here, took a lot of photographs and showed them to us later.

On Gabbar
Although I would definitely say that every aspect of the film went into the making it an all-time classic, it cannot be denied that the iconic figure in the film has to be Gabbar. His dialogues sold more than the music of the film. People were mesmerised.

On the Sholay phenomenon 
It's almost impossible to explain what a phenomenon is. It happens. The entire team of Sholay went about trying to do their best. But for it to have turned into this...we could not have imagined it at that time. Today's generation is as much aware of Sholay, as of the other films around them.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

SHOLAY 3D: Arriving on January 3rd 2014

It is confirmed. Sholay 3D shall get an Indian release on January 3rd 2014. Watch the new trailer here: 

An epic movie has gone through an epic 3D treatment. Sholay, almost four hours long, is one of the longest films to be converted to this format. Pen India Pvt Ltd and Maya Studio worked together on the 3D treatment.

Earlier, talks were on with cinema owners for a release date, as Jayantilal Gada of Pen had stated. His reasoning for the January release - As Sholay is an 'old film', Gada needs a 'one-week window' during which time no other major release will be lined up. 

As an ardent fan I am a little worried by a press release that quotes Jayantilal Gada stating that the Sholay 3D version will have a 'new background score'. I like the present RD Burman background score fine enough.  

Considering many of us weren't born or conceived in 1975, we are all set to make it to the cinema screens on January 3rd 2014. 

More on Sholay 3D
Producer-Director Ketan Mehta owned Maya Digital Studios is the team behind Sholay 3D. They had no easy task at hand, considering the movie needed colour correction. Also, elements from each of the over 5000 shots were enhanced visually. A computer-generated shot that fans will notice - The oil barrels exploding in the train robbery sequence shall spark red instead of black. This is to go with the film's title, implying embers.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

SHOLAY (1975): Post release facts i

Sholay got thrashed by critics post the August 15th, 1975 premiere. Ramesh Sippy visited theatres in Mumbai to gauge the audience reaction. All he got is silence. He couldn't understand why the audience was not reacting.  

Ramesh Sippy panicked and called up a meeting with GP Sippy and Amitabh Bachchan. The trio mooted re-shooting the ending before releasing it in other regions, with Jai still alive and kicking at the end of it. Post Zanjeer (1973) and Deewar (1975), "Amitabh was too big a star to die." Writers Salim-Javed were adamant on not changing anything. Ramesh Sippy finally went with his heart and nothing was touched. Already, the ending had been changed, and the director didn't want to creatively compromise on anything else.  

By the end of its first week run in Mumbai, the second week advance bookings were lukewarm. The film's producer GP Sippy wondered, considering that creditors were yet to be paid, if he would be able to make another film again.   

Amitabh Bachchan (almost) cried on the shoulders of Shashi Kapoor at the Kabhie Kabhie shooting on learning of Sholay's low first week collections. "No yaar, it's over, the film's a flop."

Amjad Khan was a defeated man in the heat of negative reviews, he went in to a shell and lamented to his co-star Asrani that, "There's nothing to be done now." 

Ramesh Sippy finally saw hope in the middle of the second week when the owner of Geeta Cinema, Worli told him that the sale of his ice creams and soft drinks were down. Why was that, asked the director. The answer: The audience was too stunned to leave their seats during the interval...

(To be contd.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Sholay Merchandise

Almost four decades have passed and yet Sholay is still used to push merchandise. The price tags will usually tell you that the product makers are bigger thieves than Jai and Veeru...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sholay 3D Poster i

While the Sholay 3D release date is still a mystery, the poster is finally out! The latest rumours are that the film will release on Amitabh Bachchan's 71st birthday - October 11, 2013. Nothing is confirmed as yet.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sholay Moments: Robbers, Widows and Safes

In their first interaction with Thakur, Veeru makes it clear why he and Jai are thieves. In a brash and rough tongue he puts in one single word - "Paisa" ("Money").Yet, the duo has its money principles, there is no hint as to where they get their noble intentions from.What we do know it that Hindi film heroes can go from rogue to good in the matter of seconds.

At their arrival at Ramgarh, the duo has no intention of helping Thakur Baldev Singh. Having received advance payment and provided a generous view of the family safe, it is decided that they while the day away in sleep and clear out the safe at night and escape. Only, Radha catches them in the act and instead of screaming,"Thieves, help!", she is strangely maudlin.The widow does the unthinkable, she hands over the safe's keys and asks them to make away with the money. Her point is - at least that will convince Thakur, her father-in-law that the duo are crooks after all.

Radha must have done some serious criminal psychology reading, or it must have been her semi-transparent white sari that did the trick. For, in an inexplicable Hindi film u-turn, Jai returns the keys to Radha the next morning with the promise that they will not repeat the act again.

Moral of the story: Once a Hindi film hero turns good, nobody can bring them to the bad side. Ever. If a beautiful heroine is responsible for the transformation, Satan can readily apply for retirement.   

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sholay Moments: Who will take Basanti Home?

A major dilemma in Sholay's final moments and certainly an awkward one. Who the hell will take Basanti home? Veeru or Jai? They could have left it to the horse too. Basanti was an expert in riding the tanga, so surely, surely, surely she could ride back to Ramgarh on horseback. Was it about chivalry then? What were Veeru and Jai afraid of? That Gabbar's pack would catch up with Basanti and hold her at ransom? 

The decision is finally made by Jai, when a machine gun bullet finally catches up with a Hindi film hero, right on the back. Even as Jai jumps to safety, we must understand that neither Veeru or Basanti have seen the wound. It is a moment of great sacrifice and we can only watch when Jai tosses the fatal coin and thus seals his fate. 

Amrish Puri in Mr. India

Bullets and Heroes (Before Rajnikanth) 
I could go on and on about the bullet that first gets Jai. There are very few Hindi film heroes who have been felled by enemy fire post Sholay, all through the trashy eighties and redundant nineties. If either Amrish Puri, Ranjit, Gulshan Grover or Prem Chopra finally did get to the gun, there was always a sister, mother, evil brother gone good, vamp turned pure woman, or former lover (lesser paid heroine) who would dive in lightning speed to save the hero. Then bloody and dying, they would make their final speeches, if needed bring the hero and heroine's hands together and then pass away in a twist of head on cosy denim hero lap. 

Sholay and Spoofs
Not a long time ago, when MTV and V used to be music channels with a few laughs lined up in between (Quick Gun Murugan, The Liftman, etc) there were some funny spoofs done on Sholay. One tickling series, shows how Jai steals Basanti from Veeru, even as the latter is haplessly bonded by friendship. Hence in the reenactment of the final scenes, Jai tricks Veeru to stay back by the toss of the coin and thus makes away with Basanti. If Sholay were to be remade as an epic story of betrayal, Jai would have made a bigger name as a villain and even Gabbar would have roared in disgust, "Dikkar hai!" So much for alternatives.    

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sholay Stills: Yeh Haath...

It is a moment that defines the entire film - that Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) makes his choice - he lets Thakur (Sanjeev Kumar) live. Not before maiming him for life though. 

Gabbar Singh seems like any other endearing Hindi film villain until this point, but when we see the pair of swords swishing the air in sheer brutality, we know he has to be destroyed. That in some way justice has to be served.Unlike the Thakur family execution which is without any villainous dialogue, here Gabbar is at his sadistic height, hatefully playful when he screams "Yeh haath hum ka dede Thakur!" ("Give us thy arms, Thakur!). 

Thakur's character is brought to the fore in the matter of seconds. He is a man of honour, and in his loss and rage, ready to be killed by Gabbar Singh. But as would any of us be horrified, he bellows, "Nahi" ("No!"). Take my life, but certainly not my arms - it is an intense scene of audience connect, we would said so too - "Not my arms." 

Sanjeev Kumar matches up to the brilliant debutant Amjad Khan with a natural vibrancy, watch his eyes in those final moments of barbarism. Unforgettable.

The act also makes it plausible in the story for Gabbar Singh to not think the unthinkable - that in a boomerang of events, his arms would be crushed by an armless Thakur wearing nail-poking shoes. That Thakur would be asking him, "Yeh haath hum ko dede!" 

We don't blame Gabbar. High on confidence, savageness and cruelty, Gabbar didn't invest on a pack of spies to loom the Thakur household and inform him, "Well, Ramlal is making him some new shoes, beware!" But then, it was GP Sippy who was financing the film, and he was certainly not a dacoit. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Explaining the Unexplainable: Why I Love Sholay! VOL I

I have to admit, with a heavy heart and a freelance writer's objectivity that many films of the action adventure genre are cinematically...(Sholay fans, brace for impact!) better than Sholay

Sergio Leone's 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) are clear inspirations for the Salim-Javed screenplay. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) builds a believable, enduring chemistry between its two bank robbing outlaws.   

Sholay wedged between these half-a-dozen films, is 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?!Say the horses), the characters in Sholay are destined to play their parts over and over again. 

So here's to Gabbar lifting two menacing swords in sheer savagery, flirtatious Veeru shooting down mangoes and a wounded Jai flinging that stick of more time!