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. 

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