Movie Review – Sholay

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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Sholay is an ever enchanting experience. A true epic! In every sense. It was during my school days I watched this movie. My dad was raving at that time that it ran for almost a year in Mumbai, then Bombay. Going through the stats I get to know that it ran for 5 years in one theatre. Some record eh! All I could remember about the movie was Amitabh chucking coal in the train to speed it up and Amitabh dying on that bridge. Of the two things that I remembered the former was wrong. It was not Amitabh but Dharmendra who burnt the coal to run the engine fast. I remember enjoying that fight scene. Now after about 10 years or so when I watch the movie again it was equally astounding. Now having watched a few more movies and being more matured I could draw parallels between Seven Samurai and several other westerns with Sholay.


Sholay is a stereotypical film. Accepted. But there is not even a single moment where we hate the dues ex machina and several other stereotypes. But even a stereotypical film like Sholay there is a scene where Inspector Tagore’s family dies and there is a close up shot of Tagore seeing his grandchild.

Due to heavy breeze the coverings move and all others face gets revealed but not that of the grandson. It makes us curious. The grandchild is the last one to get killed. Gabbar personally comes down to kill him. So when Tagore comes down to see the fate of the grandchild all we get to see is the face of an enraged Tagore. What made Tagore so angry is still a mystery and we never get to see the child. Moments like these make the film special. And I’d like to mention here that the way people pronounce Tagore gives it even more manly feeling.

One more thing that was away from the formulaic treatment of the film was the love story between Amitabh and Jaya Bhaduri. It would remain as one of the best ever untold love story. You don’t see Jaya crying much. In fact you don’t see her crying at all. She is the one with controlled emotions. When she sees Amitabh getting hurt and coming back she runs off to see him but stops right at the doorstep. We call it, “padi thaanda pathini” in Tamil. It fits the scene to tee. On the other hand Hema Malini is the more talkative one. She cries as much as she laughs. A loud femme fatale. Another aspect of an action film used judiciously.

The best thing about the film is R D Burmans music. The background score especially. May be I’d have heard him unknowingly but this films music was truly epic. It gave the must necessary glamour to the Indian western. Right after hearing the opening music where Tagore takes a horse and rides I decided to download the entire discography of R D Burman. Now this would be added to the weekend chart music.  That takes nothing away from the songs. Especially yeh dosti and mehabooba. The latter being an exemplarily well sung one as well. That’s the beauty of the movie. If you have a script like this which has two big shots, a lovely heroine, a menacing villain, a special special character, an item song, an intro song, a love song with loads of love, action, drama and emotion no producer can say no to the film. Good thing about these aspects is they all combine to make a truly good Indian film. How people know an Indian film to be like.

Of all the characters Amitabhs character stands out. There is a general notion that Amitabh is loved down south more than anywhere else. I don’t know how much of it is true. But an angry young man image perfectly suits Amitabh. That too his height and his gruffy voice add to the character. Special kudos to the makeup artist for making him look so manly. I’d always prefer Deewar Amitabh to Silsila Amitabh. Another good aspect about him is how gracefully he has aged. His voice becomes more and more powerful and he looks even smarter. Some people are born to be liked I guess.

The film got released during Independence Day on 1975. May be that too was a sign of becoming an epic film. With Sholay you get everything you want from a film. Calling it a masala film seems to be a demeaning term but Sholay is the definition of the so called masala film. A pure unadulterated commercial flick. Why I call it unadulterated is there is a scene where we could have laughed. For example the climax sequence where Tagore fights with Gabbar but it’s made with such sincerity that we suppress of inner self even if we feel like laughing. That’s a mark of a good film. An honest and sincere attempt.

Taking about the various themes. It is one film where friendship is glorified. There might be many to come after it but this will be remembered as one of the best friends pair on the screen. One more recognition to the kitty. When you consider the overall theme of the film its as simple as it can get. Good triumphs over the evil but the point is how well it’s made. People who grow up watching films like Sholay will know what humanity is even if they don’t get to know what the various aspects of it and the psychology behind are. The basic story it tells us is be good, do good. We don’t see any other great aspect as to why people should be like that. May be that’s why it Sholay should be watched like a fairy tale too.

Anurag Kashyap recently called this the best Indian film ever made. I couldn’t post such a statement but it’s one of the best Indian films ever made. A film that we could be proud of. Why so, because Sholay is a complete film. It’s like watching a Rajnikanth film and getting satisfied by his antics. Sholay gives complete satisfaction to us which many other films couldn’t do. Just now came to know that Sholay means Flames, I had known this film for such a long time without knowing the meaning of it. RGV’s disastrous Aag didn’t remind me too. It’s a blunder to remake a film of this magnanimity but sometimes mistakes do happen. It’d be better if films like this are left untouched at least from here on.


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