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.)