"Tera kya hoga Kaalia?"
"Maine to aapka namak khaya hai sarkar..."
"To phir ab goli kha..."
"Woh kitne aadmi the?"
Hundreds of millions. And they all fell in love, and there was never a 7-year
or a 14-year or a any-other-year itch, too. That's how deep the affair was.
Sholay, Gabbar Singh, Thakur, Kaalia and Basanti are such legendary and unforgettable
words. The reminiscences are never-ending, and they never fail to take you to
a diaphanous world of dreams and bring back the fond memories of the youthful
days some 25 years back.
The roaring sounds of a steam engine that's puffing to the Ramgarh station,
its slow movements and the screech as it halts, and not a soul in the vicinity.
Can one ever forget the opening scene of Sholay? The drama and action that follow
maintain a very high technical order throughout the film, for which Sippy has
been lauded time and again.
Sholay is the charming story of two convicts Jai and Veeru (played by Amitabh
and Dharmendra) who are brought out of jail by a Thakur (played by Sanjeev Kumar)
to complete a semi-accomplished mission. Sanjeev Kumar is the police inspector
of Ramgarh till the dreaded dacoit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan in the role of a
lifetime) cuts off his hands publicly for daring to capture him. And our heroes
land in at the deserted village of Ramgarh as the fauz (army) of the Thakur,
Salim-Javed's sparkling dialogue is remembered even today, over 25 years after
the film was first released. Be it the venom spewed by Gabbar or the comical
utterances of an inebriated Dharmendra atop the village tank threatening suicide
("angrezi log jab marte hain to suicide kehte hain..."), the
dialogues have attained iconic status and inspired innumerable other comic situations.
Sholay was supposed to be a showcase for Dharmendra, the reigning king, and
it instead catapulted Amitabh into a league that no one has ever reached again.
And it made a legend out of the villain too! Who in India (definitely in the
entire North) wouldn't have heard of Gabbar Singh? Bete sojaa, varna Gabbar
Singh aajaayegaa! Amjad Khan's portrayal of the dacoit was so striking,
you actually hated and dreaded him. Perhaps the only other movie where you would
remember Amjad Khan is Qurbani, and that for the songs. He could never match
his debut, never again.
Sholay served as the platform for many to venture mega-starrers on a grand scale
- large budgets, good photography, rhythmical music and technical effects. But
few movies ever attained such iconic status. Which is why, decades after its
release and dozens of TV screenings later, it still plays in the theater and
still attracts crowds.