Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sholay: The First Scene

The first scene of Sholay is again reminiscent of Sergio Leone's western trilogy, especially the use of the railroad in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). Yet it would be unfair to say that it is an inspired scene. 

It is a short scene, not meant to be lingering, so we do not wonder who is waiting for whom - our queries are answered in a matter of seconds, at least a part of it. A policeman alights from the train and in an otherwise deserted station, he easily chances upon a man clearly waiting for him. 

The camera gives us a distant gaze, neither character is in clear view. There is the sound of the steam engine locomotive coming to a slowing halt, spewing black smoke and we hear the stationary breathlessness of the engine even as the policeman turns around, sees no one around and asks the waiting man, "Ah, Thakur Saab?" (Ah, Thakur Sir?) to which the waiting man replies politely, leading the way,"Aaeye Jailer Saab, aaeye." (This way, Jailer Sir, this way.). Midway, the Jailer gives his assent with an authoritative, "Hmm." A higher authority assenting to a servant's request, there's the class system for you.

Both men are seen walking outside the old derelict station and mounting two horses. We hear the train leave the station even as the men ride the horses with seasoned comfort. 

The RD Burman guitar theme matches the opening credits that says - SIPPY FILMS PRESENT. We fade out to the next scene where against the backdrop of a rocky terrain and two riders passing by the film title - SHOLAY shows up - first in English, and then simultaneously in Hindi and Urdu.   

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