Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sholay: The Original Cut (Part II)

The most famous Sholay scene that most of you have not yet seen has to unanimously be: The killing of Gabbar Singh. For those who came in late, the censored Sholay saw Thakur pressing his nail sole shoes on Gabbar's arms even as the villain pleads for mercy. The police then inexplicably arrive. That is not how it ended though. In the uncut, 'ready for censor viewing' Sholay, Thakur gets his revenge and Gabbar Singh doesn't make it alive to the end credits.

Why change the ending? 
Sholay was incidentally set for release during the time of the emergency. In such volatile times the ruling government found it improper than an Indian citizen is depicted as defying the law. Therefore, Ramesh Sippy was forced to shoot the milder version with the law arriving to restrain Thakur. Now, how good is the original version? 

Original Cut 
Well, the police do not arrive at the scene at all. Thakur and Gabbar face each another at Gabbar's deserted den. What follows has its bits of credibility and incredulity - more of the latter. The scenes of Thakur somersaulting in the air to kick the hell out of Gabbar needed a sub plot - like he trained in the 36th Chamber of the Shaolin Temple for it or something. Also, Gabbar's death is a gruesome convenience rather than cinematic. The only saving grace is Veeru reappearing with a shawl, and Thakur breaking down in tears - thus depicting the hollow consequence of revenge. 

Sholay: The Original Cut (Part I)

How time flies! Or should I say - how it blazes! It has been almost four years since I had posted an article that all but betrayed my excitement on the existence of Sholay (Original Cut). To take the happy story forward Veersen Savant alias Spiral Smoke (Unless he has quit smoking) gifted me the VCD of the same rare version back then. Here is my verdict on the much heard original cut.   

The Ahmed-Gabbar scene
The version we see ends with dread. Ahmed is brought before Gabbar. The villain eyes an ant and crushes it, thus effectively conveying Ahmed's fate. We can see why the original cut was edited out, it feels out of sync and repeated.The scene is better left unsaid, there lies its cinematic subtlety. 

Original Cut
Post the ant killing, Gabbar mocks Ramgarh's fleeing citizens and demands that Ahmed rub his nose at my feet. At Ahmed's silent refusal and lunge towards Gabbar, the chief of bandits hits Ahmed and stops his men from shooting him. He hols an iron spear is one hand and in another Ahmed's hair and menacingly promises him of a torturous death. Cut to Ahmed's dead body arriving in Ramgarh, strung sideways on his horse.