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!    

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sholay Stills: The Thakur's Shoe...

It is a scene that lasts hardly a second in the censored version of Sholay. Pity for that, for how easily you can miss what the director and the cinematographer do with it. The dark sky is menacing, it is also a take on the day when Gabbar executed Thakur's (Sanjeev Kumar) family. Then there is the nail-stuck shoe and the expression on Thakur's face. 

Calm and composed all through his dealings with Jai and Veeru, rarely showing his wrath, he now bursts open all his accumulated hate. It is also a scene that brings revenge to the fore, and its blind rage of consequences. Also, since this is the censored version, it becomes all the more unbelievable that Thakur Baldev Singh repents and gives up Gabbar in the name of law and order. It is a sane, sombre end, but doesn't go with Thakur's character at all...