40 Years of Sholay: Amitabh Bachchan, Ramesh & Rohan Sippy with Anupama Chopra

Thanks to Myselfaamir…


73 Responses to “40 Years of Sholay: Amitabh Bachchan, Ramesh & Rohan Sippy with Anupama Chopra”

  1. Can never have enough anecdotes from the film! Sippy is the best combination of masala-art. Cannot believe they haven’t given him a Padma yet!


  2. what a criminal waste of a great opportunity. there was too much awkwardness , and Rohan was so out of place .


  3. The Bachchan interaction with the press was much more in-depth , richer and satisfying rather than the Sippys farce and deserved a separate post.


  4. ‘A friend said there was a new phenomenon occurring during every screening. Audience members were mouthing the dialogues with the characters on screen.’

    ‘It was a truly amazing experience. It was impossible to hear what was being said on the screen. There was so much noise, laughter and celebration in the theatre. And the film was not even a month old.’

    Aseem Chhabra remembers seeing Sholay twice in the couple of weeks after it opened.
    A few days after Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay opened in August 1975, I went with a couple of college friends to the Plaza Cinema at Delhi’s Connaught Place. The only way we could see the film was to fight the crazy rush of the masses and buy advanced tickets.

    There in the midst of total disorder, with people pushing, breaking lines trying to reach the tiny little ticket window, I felt someone touching my wallet in the back-pocket of my jeans. I tried to turn back, but it was impossible to move. I somehow managed to grab hold of my wallet.

    I had nearly become a victim of crime while buying tickets for a film that celebrated charming criminals, a vicious villain and his merry band of dacoits.

    I enjoyed Sholay, and saw it twice in the couple of weeks after it opened.

    The second viewing happened because a friend said there was a new phenomenon occurring during every screening. Audience members were mouthing the dialogues with the characters on screen.

    It was a truly amazing experience. It was impossible to hear what was being said on the screen. There was so much noise, laughter and celebration in the theatre. And the film was not even a month old.

    Forty years have passed and I finally revisited Sholay earlier this week. I saw the entire 3.5 hours of the film on YouTube. And it was like I had just watched the film recently. Everything was fresh in my mind, and not because I am a huge Sholay-nut.

    Sholay is just a vital part of our existence and ethos. For fans of Mumbai’s popular Hindi cinema — and I consider myself to be one — there has been no cinematic phenomenon like Sholay. Even after Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge broke all time records, Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay is the ultimate iconic film in the history of Hindi cinema.

    Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur referred to Sholay as the most ‘defining film on the Indian screen.’

    ‘Indian film history can be divided into Sholay BC and Sholay AD,’ Kapur was quoted as saying in film journalist Anupama Chopra’s book, Sholay: The Making of a Classic (Read an excerpt HERE).

    Even a great master like Satyajit Ray, who was usually dismissive of popular Hindi cinema, was impressed by Sholay. In the book Talking Films: Conversations on Hindi Cinema with Javed Akhtar (one-half of the Sholay’s Salim-Javed script-writing team) the scriptwriter and lyricist says the following to film writer Nasreen Munni Kabir: ‘He (Ray) said wonderful things abut Sholay. He liked the film very much.’

    As I watched the film earlier this week, I was quite taken aback, for I too know most of Sholay’s dialogues — especially the classic ‘Kitne Admi The?’ monologue that introduces us to the villain of villains Gabbar Singh (the superb Amjad Khan). How did I know this dialogue so well? Because I have heard it being mouthed in films and elsewhere so many times.

    Towards the beginning of Zoya Akhtar’s first feature Luck By Chance, a group of wannabe actors are attending a session addressed by Bollywood actor MacMohan, who is playing himself in this brief appearance. MacMohan is asked to say a few words to the students. Before he can say anything, one student yells out a request asking the actor to repeat his famous line from Sholay.

    ‘Sholay?’ MacMohan asks.

    He then looks down and repeats the famous three words written for him by Salim-Javed: ‘Poorey Pachas Hazaar! (spoken part of the Kitne Aadmi The? monologue)

    The students start to laugh and break into applause. And that is the end of MacMohan’s guest appearance in Luck By Chance. He only speaks four words in the film — words of no apparent consequence, and yet those are some of the most famous words in the history of Hindi language cinema.

    And that is how Sholay has played out in our lives again and again.

    Forty years later ,Sholay still holds, even though at 3.5 hours, the film is too long.

    In between the action and all of the Gabbar Singh inspired violence, Sholay is stuffed with a lot of comedy, some not so funny moments, long flashback sequences and many scenes when the film’s protagonists Veeru (Dharmendra) and Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) just lie around, wasting time, as if they are in no rush to get to the real purpose of the film — the hunt for Gabbar Singh.

    But as Bollywood fans we are trained to overlook all of that. Many will maintain those ingredients (including the Veeru-Basanti and Jai-Radha romance) are essential elements of the total film masala.

    The magic and power of Sholay lies in its vast sweeping landscape that plays like a character in the battle between good and evil. Terrifically shot and edited, with a smart eerie sound design, very sharp writing, dialogues and powerful performances, Sholay is a testament to all that can go right with a film.

    So 40 years later, Sholay does not look dated.

    There have been attempts to upgrade Sholay — from the awful Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag to the add-on 3D component to the original film. Those plans mostly failed.

    What we have with us, and for decades into the future, is that epic that Ramesh Sippy mounted and the gift he gave to generations of Hindi movie fans.



  5. What an anti climax to the Anupama Chopra video clip after the countdown hype… Very awkward and dull cannot believe he is the same person who directed Sholay. Confirms it was more Salim- Javed there than anyone else.

    And what is the point of taking us to the story room when it is now serving as living area and more like a closet space and does not resemble anything of the past. With so much money flowing in Mumbai why couldn’t they preserve those two room and give us a real glimpse of the story sitting session. if they can’t be innovative the least they can do is copy the Americans / Hollywood in preservation and build it like mini museum /artifacts.

    Last but not the least Rohan Sippy still seems to be a ‘charsi’ and a clear product of drug rehabilitation.


    • “Confirms it was more Salim- Javed there than anyone else.”

      Guess you really do not know anything about film direction!


      • I think Aamir Khan said it best nearly two decades ago, when asked to explain his miserable film choices after QSQT; he said many of those films had good scripts and sounded very good when narrated, but ended up duds because the director wasn’t up to snuff. He added that it was far more important to have a good director than a good script. I would broadly agree, in that filmmaking is of course a director’s art (at the risk of sounding dogmatic I cannot accept an alternative position as serious). Now the star can rise above certain kinds of films and create a certain effect, but those typically aren’t the best films. Moreover, it is most odd to say this about Sholay of all films: hard to think of a classic masala movie that is MORE the director’s creature than this!


        • P.K Talli Says:

          ‘Whenever I asked the director a question — which I ask my directors even now — a good director has the answer because he understands his business. But there were some directors who did not have the answers, and they would say I am very interfering. They wanted somebody to just come and work and not question.’ Hirani talks about Aamir incase anyone missed this http://www.rediff.com/movies/report/exclusive-aamirs-favourite-is-the-mahabharat/20150312.htm


        • yes this is why there’s a massive difference between other masala hits of the 70s and those made by the important directors of the day.


        • As you said, in most cases a good director will get things done. But if you have good script sense (as an actor) and in business for long, you probably can guide a director. I don’t think Aamir is doing Dangal because of director. He probably likes the script and he knows he can guide (bring him/her to path whenever they lose track) the director to follow the script.


        • Yes, a director is very important but Salim-Javed were known to be present even during the shooting. So, their contribution went beyond story- dialogue-Script. There haven’t been anyone like them before or after.
          Am not denying Sippy any credit because at the end of the day, it was his vision and he deserves a large share of credit for this most complete film ever made. Many great films one watches, one think s may be I would have changed this, added that, deleted that. With Sholay, there are no such issues.
          AB is an accident of nature being the complete package he is. Same way, Sholay is also an accident. Everything miraculously falls into place. Music hits no false note, not a single line in the movie is superfluous, no acting opportunities wasted, no point where it drags. Hits all the marks beautifully and unfalteringly.
          It is a once in lifetime event.
          I know it is fashionable to say Sholay is not one’s favorite film but if Inhad to watch just one film in my lifetime, it would have to be Sholay. This is what movie going is about.


          • this is a fair comment all round and hard to disagree with. I’d say though that everything you’re saying on Salim-Javed vis-a-vis the director would be absolutely correct if applied to Yash Chopra’s films of that period. But with Ramesh Sippy you have a director who brings about this extremely impressive film. In other words Yash Chopra could have directed this film and it would still have been impressive but Ramesh Sippy made it one for the ages. From the scale of the film to the shots to the edits to the staging of various moments and the mood shifts and so on one could talk about this film forever as a ‘technical’ (for want of a better word) and tonal achievement. Much as this film is in its own way an extraordinary homage to a whole tradition of filmmaking outside India. I have the greatest respect for Salim-Javed. They are of course matchless as script-writers. I’d even say they are the true forces behind Yash Chopra’s three great Bachchan films (not including Kabhi Kabhie here). First off Yash Chopra elsewhere in his career before or after isn’t remotely as interesting as he is on these films. But beyond this he’s a fairly functional director on all of these films barring the great exception of Kaala Pathar. But even between this last and the Sholay there’s a world of difference. In some ways Kaala Pathar would have been even more extraordinary in Sippy’s hands. In any case my point is that though I’d give the lion’s share of the credit to Salim-Javed for these films (Yash Chopra himself gives it to them for Trishul) I’d say the opposite for Sholay. Not because their achievement on Sholay isn’t formidable but that Sippy’s is so much more in terms of really bringing all the pieces together. Ultimately there has to be a certain chemistry on this score. The director who’s willing to involve the scriptwriters so much, the writers who are inspired by what they see. So it works both ways. My only point is that Ramesh Sippy in this film is in a class all by himself. To make what is by now (and certainly has been since its release) the central film of Indian commercial cinema in many ways the director needed to be equal to the task. This script in lesser hands would have still been a strong film but not a seminal one. All of this doesn’t necessarily contradict anything you’re saying, I’d just highlight Sippy’s role here even more. But for all these reasons I’d never call those other Salim-Javed films greater than this one but I personally prefer the more compressed ‘essays’ they offer on the angry young man persona.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Maybe some credit goes to the editor of the movie-Sholay, as many great movies have been bloched-up on editing table but totally agree that “It is a once in lifetime event.” good films just happen because all right things fall into place (RGV was quoted saying that for his one time classic).
            On the editor of Sholay: M.S. Shinde:
            “His work on Sholay of editing 300,000 feet of reel into 18,000 feet is considered remarkable.[3] The earlier submitted version of 21,000 feet long film was further edited after the censors mandated cuts. The film had been reduced to a running time of 3 hours and 20 minutes, and was now without many of its gory scenes, though violence remained both on- and off-screen.[3] Sholay was nominated in nine categories at the 23rd Filmfare Awards but won only the Best Editing Award.[4][5]”
            A good score (scriptwriter), a good conductor (director), good players who can follow the director’s cues (actors/technicians), good acoustics in the hall (editor?) and finally an appreciative audience (BO) hopefully when the music is played live


          • AamirsFan Says:

            i’m gonna have to agree with Satyam here that Ramesh Sippy’s direction should be highlighted more than Salim-Javed here. I love the example of Kaala-Pathar. I can only imagine how much greater K-P would’ve been if Ramesh Sippy been the director. He seemed like he was much more familiar with an rustic and authentic vision than Yash Chopra.

            Also look at what can happen if the script of Sholay is handled with another director…RGV ki Aag. I realize that is a radicalized vision of Sholay…but if they had another director at the helm with Sholay in 1975..I doubt we would get such a ‘perfect’ film.

            Taking the Yash Chopra/Ramesh Sippy comparison further; I think Shakti was a better watch than Deewar because of how well Ramesh Sippy handled the film. I know many prefer Deewar to be the best hindi film…but I rate Shakti higher on my personal list simply because of how well it was shot and directed by Ramesh Sippy. The emotional scenes, the confrontational scenes have much more impact (at least for me) in Shakti than in Deewar (but I don’t think Ramesh Sippy would’ve been able to ‘guide’ Deewar the way Yash Chopra did).


          • I’d disagree on Deewar/Shakti. Though I see where you’re coming from as the films stand and even allowing for the point you’ve made I’d say Deewar is far superior.


    • omrocky786 Says:

      Line of the day-Last but not the least Rohan Sippy still seems to be a ‘charsi’ and a clear product of drug rehabilitation

      LMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  6. Agree with much what you said here but reading about Salim-Javed’s influence/ interference from casting to locations and pitch etc one can safely say they were not regular script writer…. atleast we dont see any of that among the current scriptwriters.

    My point is what happened to this genius director. Okay I will give him Shaan (even though it flopped) for at least coming up with innovative credit roll – Shaan se ‘numbering’ (this is what it used be called if I am correct ) & Shakaal etc but what happened after that? It’s his film trajectory which creates a doubt in the mind.


    • Shaan’s failure is a myth. It was a very significant grosser of that period. But expectations 5 years after Sholay were simply too high. And it’s true that this film was simply ahead of its time in certain ways. Nonetheless this remains one of the coolest Hindi films. Sippy then made Shakti which hardly needs an intro. Sippy started his career with two hits in Andaz and Seeta aur Geeta and then of course there was Sholay. Does everything since seem an anti-climax? Sure! But that one film is worth most of Bombay’s film careers! If you’ve made the ‘greatest film’ you can afford the rest! what more could be said in this genre after this film? This is precisely why Sippy never attempted anything similar in either Shaan or Shakti.

      On Salim-Javed no one’s calling them regular script writers though they certainly did not wield more influence than Sippy by any stretch of the imagination when this film was being made. Of course they were respected enough by directors who knew their craft and understood Sippy as well. In any case even if one knows nothing about direction one should be able to understand the seminal achievement Sholay is. It’s one of the great commercial directorial achievements in Hindi cinema and there’s nothing else from the 70s that comes close to its overall achievement. It’s absurd to even have to offer these comments. One of these days you might want to expand your horizons a bit and learn some stuff in these matters. There’s more to cinema than Ready and Bodyguard and the films Salman produces.

      Liked by 2 people

      • About Shaan.. the best line it’ll be ever remembered in the industry and public is – “Sholay ke Shaan mat bana!”

        That was used in real life scenarios as well during its releases and 80’s.


    • omrocky786 Says:

      Dhoni- Sippy has Andaz, Seta Geeta, Shakti to his credit too.
      Even Bhrshtachaar was not that bad, but Zamana Deewana was atrocious !!


      • I don’t like Bhrashtachaar at all but you forgot Saagar which is a decent effort though too little coming from Sippy. On Shakti this was too grim a film and though it did well enough it certainly wasn’t a hit by Bachchan’s lofty standards in those days. which is to say that Kaalia, Yaarana, Barsaat ki ek raat, Khuddaar were all ahead of it. I’m not even getting into some of the bigger stuff here. But of the lesser films Yaarana was very big. Most people don’t realize this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • omrocky786 Says:

          Damn, how could I miss Saagar, my VHS tape had a tracking error at the Dimple Kapadia topless scene !!
          I Liked Saagar, but I guess it was a bit slow and RTGM killed it.
          Barsat ki ek raat was not a big hit from what I remember.
          Shakti is my absolute fav. movie, saw it FDFS in Uphaar, Delhi.
          Yaarana is one movie which the kids even today enjoy ( atleast the first half )


          • Barsaat.. was definitely a hit. Not huge but some others were in that category too (kaalia and satte pe satta were probably comparable). Khuddaar was bigger, Yaarana was even bigger. Of course the gross is one thing, the success rating another.


          • omrocky786 Says:

            Khuddar was huge because it came right after Bachchan accident .
            P.S.- I really want to see Bachchan in the “The Rock” remake, – smart, emotional, intelligent and agile. BHTB was kind of opportunity wasted as the Comedy/ action/ emotion mix faltered somewhat .


          • BHTB was a joke of film! Puri Jagannath was completely disinterested, I don’t know what made them do it in first place unless there is strong director interest or good script.

            Liked by 1 person

          • AamirsFan Says:

            Shakti is definetily in my top ten of favorite movies…loved the acting between the two titans. I thought that in terms of ‘product’, Shakti is Ramesh Sippy’s best film but for me Sholay remains the most entertaining film.

            Just saw Sholay on DVD tonight and it is still a great film. This is a complete film where it doesn’t take shortcuts just to be in the ‘masala’ category and unlike today’s lazy ‘masala’ films Sholay never compromises between entertainment and the nonsensical. I doubt any of these so called ‘masala’ movies in hindi today will be remembered 40 years from now.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Saagar obviously isn’t in the same league but does have a wonderful atmosphere; not until the son did Dum Maaro Dum has the Goa ambience been captured so well…


      • Yes I did miss all those movies and was under the impression he debuted with Sholay. Now you reminded Saagar in that other comment which was a damn good movie esp for Kamal Hassan acting.

        Satyam reminded Shakti too….so I do have to backpedal on my earlier comment.

        Liked by 1 person

        • omrocky786 Says:

          Tabhee na kehtey hain na bhai. Shobha De ko mat follow karo !! LOL

          Liked by 1 person

          • “Tabhee na kehtey hain na bhai. Shobha De ko mat follow karo !! LOL”

            arrey hum bhai nahin bhaiyya hoon….lol

            i thought shobha de is in PM Modi camp …so was a bit surprised with the contents there…..but may be I was confusing her with Tavleen Singh. …anyway they are all same….. just publicity starving socialites.

            Though one thing is for sure Shobha De really loathes anything Salman. Was particularity nasty during those court verdict days last May. Sometime jealousy is just love and hate at the same time.

            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s Tavleen Singh who’s firmly in the Modi camp not Shobha De.


        • Apart from the movies listed here..we should not forget the TV serial ‘Buniyaad’ which he directed..He did it very well

          Liked by 1 person

      • Re: “Zamana Deewana was atrocious”

        yes, that film was like a human rights violation. Clearly SRK seems to bring out the worst in some people.

        Liked by 1 person

        • omrocky786 Says:

          Re.-Clearly SRK seems to bring out the worst in some people.

          Line of the Day !!


        • Zamana Deewana was very bad but one thing it did was to present SRK first time in that romantic comedy role after all that Baazigar, Darr, Anjaam series. Not many would even remember or agree but its actually the same template of Raj from DDLJ and so on roles. Apparently SRK didn’t even dub the movie completely except some main scenes and was dubbed by some other artists.


        • “Clearly SRK seems to bring out the worst in some people.”

          Agree, more so with the folks on here! 🙂


  7. Well done by bringing Ready and Salman here….now you’ll have a bunch of bees stinging ….

    I do expand my horizons as and when need arises. Though I am not much of a technical person on film-making but let me put a disclaimer there are no questions on Sholay and cannot be compared to any movie going experience I have had among the bollywood blockbusters visited.


    • It’s immaterial whether it’s your favorite film or not. As a matter of factor it isn’t a favorite film of mine! For some strange reason it never has been. But that’s not the point here. It’s about whether ‘factually’ this film can be considered a strong directorial effort or not. As I say in very many contexts I don’t particularly care whether people like certain films or not, certain stars or not. But there is a difference between personal liking and some kind of objectivity in these matters. I ‘like’ Deewar more than Sholay but I don’t think it’s as impressive an achievement as Sholay. I could multiply such examples. The same holds for contemporary films. The ‘debates’ folks have had over Aamir and so on. No one has to like him. If one prefers Salman or SRK to him that’s perfectly fine in my book. If one thinks Salman is a better actor than Aamir I don’t think that’s a reasonable opinion. What fans think either way is unimportant. That’s a box office reality not a critical one.


  8. Shaan was a polished film. A very enjoyable film. Sholay’s shadow haunted it.


    • and it still hasn’t aged in any sense barring those ridiculous processed shots for Mazhar Khan’s entry. But this was problematic even when the film released. No excuse for this given how refined everything else in the film is. As a personal matter I like Shaan more than Sholay. probably alone in this sense! I also like Shakaal more than Gabbar!


      • Completely Agree Satyam….Shaan hasn’t aged..I liked Shaan as much as Sholay..As kid watching Shaan we were fascinated by Shakaal’s Den and his Sharks 🙂 ..RD’s music for Shaan was also superb and had some great numbers..


        • Yes, Shaan had a very stylish album — in fact “Pyaar Karne Waale Pyar Karte Hain” must rank among the most stylish Hindi film songs ever; the influence of this song on the generation of ARR, and the likes of the Asian Underground and Talvin Singh is marked.


      • Re: ” I also like Shakaal more than Gabbar!”

        Only a pervert would say this. Certainly not even Kulbushan’s mother ever did.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. “I also like Shakaal more than Gabbar!”

    Sholay not being favorites is fine but prefering Shakaal to Gabbar is stretching it too far. No buyers here!


  10. You are taking that comment at face value. There is KJO..ish perverseness Q is referring to. So you need to get to the correct drift in that line.


  11. These video clips of Amitabh made my day.
    Many thanks,Satyam and Aamirfan.


  12. Interesting tidbit on Sholay in BOI

    Q. Sholay celebrated 40 years last week and all reports suggest it was a disaster on release and was nearly taken off cinemas but with such a film can this be the case?

    Ans. No. The opening was historic beating the previous record holder Roti Kapada Aur Makaan by 35% on weekend collections. At the two time there were two trade magazines and in usual style they had declared the film a flop to disaster as the reviewers in these magazines did not like the film. This was where the disaster thing came from, the collections told a different story. In Bengal trade these guys were referred as blind even before Sholay was released. The film opened on 15 Aug 1975 on 40 theatres in Mumbai circuit, 32 in Mumbai city and 8 in Ahmedabad. It collected 7,52,362 from these 40 theatres over the weekend, every single show was housefull. There was a slight issue on the weekdays in Mumbai city as the film was not going full in advance and current booking was open probably because it was a dacait action film and in Mumbai it was the non action films like Bobby and Roti Kapada Aur Makaan which were creating history till Sholay happened. Stiil it ended with 96% collections over the week. On 22 Aug 1975, it opened in East Punjab to miracle collections as the theatre rentals were nearly covered by the extra seats that exhibitors had to put in the theaters. It recorded 118% occupancy over the week. East Punjab was an action circuit, the same happened again in October 1975 when it opened in Delhi/UP and East India.


  13. Haven’t seen sholay…


  14. Q. Sholay celebrated 40 years last week and all reports suggest it was a disaster on release and was nearly taken off cinemas but with such a film can this be the case?

    Ans. No. The opening was historic beating the previous record holder Roti Kapada Aur Makaan by 35% on weekend collections. At the time there were two trade magazines and in usual style they had declared the film a flop to disaster as the reviewers in these magazines did not like the film. This was where the disaster thing came from, the collections told a different story. In Bengal trade these guys were referred as blind even before Sholay was released. The film opened on 15 Aug 1975 on 40 theatres in Mumbai circuit, 32 in Mumbai city and 8 in Ahmedabad. It collected 7,52,362 from these 40 theatres over the weekend, every single show was housefull. There was a slight issue on the weekdays in Mumbai city as the film was not going full in advance and current booking was open probably because it was a dacait action film and in Mumbai it was the non action films like Bobby and Roti Kapada Aur Makaan which were creating history till Sholay happened. Stiil it ended with 96% collections over the week. On 22 Aug 1975, it opened in East Punjab to miracle collections as the theatre rentals were nearly covered by the extra seats that exhibitors had to put in the theaters. It recorded 118% occupancy over the week. East Punjab was an action circuit, the same happened again in October 1975 when it opened in Delhi/UP and East India.
    C. Shastri



    • master,
      when the film was released,it was declared flop,that is the truth,they even considered to change the ending and edit some scenes,on the day of release ,fri,sat,sun…were just about 50% full,in those days films were still declared flops even though they had done 15 weeks in one cinema,no internet means hard to find reviews..monday onwards the film took off and the rest is history..they were 2 formats released,70mm and 35mm…

      minerva and marathe mandir were the only one capable of 70mm formats


      • even amitabhs agneepath was flop,the reason was purely his voice,considered to change it but overall the film was rejected.


        • agneepath’s failure has been exaggerated. It was at 100% for two weeks in Bombay. Did best here admittedly and the expectations from it were sky high but it was otherwise a very significant grosser.


  15. Why Jai is the true hero of Sholay
    August 20, 2015 12:18 IST

    Raja Sen gives us a hint: It was all because he used a coin wisely.

    It is temptingly easy to dismiss the cinematic coin-toss as a bit of chicanery, just another convenient plotting trope.

    Characters go down one road when they so easily could have strolled down another, and the road they choose is the one picked by the writers, with heads or tails (or neither) doing the rationalising for them.

    Yet there is something classically timeless about relying on something so basic, so universal, so instantly echoed around the world — and making it work.

    The set-up is simple, thrown up at will.

    The trick lies in the consequences; it’s all about sticking the landing.

    A really good coin-toss is hard to forget.

    One of the most memorable tossers in all cinema is Anton Chigurh, the villain in No Country For Old Men, the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel. Played — in an Oscar-winning turn — by Javier Bardem and a jagged-fringed haircut, Chigurh is a nightmarishly calm killer who mows down the innocent, but pauses to flip a coin before it — as if to give them a last glimmer of hope.

    Or to not take all the credit for their death.

    It is hard to imagine McCarthy, that grizzled Pulitzer Prize winner, being inspired by a Batman villain, but Chigurh’s methods do indeed quite mirror those of Two-Face, who has always been more fearsome on the page than the screen, played to cartoonish effect by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever and insipidly by Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight. Not that these didn’t have precedent; gangsters and mob bosses have tossed coins ever since George Raft started it all in the 1932 Scarface.

    The entire act might not be as existential.

    It could, of course, quite simply be big bad kids toying with their food; a trivial amusement, a flick of thumbnail against coin before the actual ringing of the death knell.

    It is also often said that the result of the toss matters less than what one hopes for as the coin is flipping through the air. This is why regardless of heads or tails, some villains end up pulling the trigger anyway.

    Less bloodthirsty coin-tossing is par for the course in buddy-movies, often with some nudge-nudge wink-wink sleight of tongue as in Andaz Apna Apna, where Aamir Khan’s Amar hoodwinks Salman Khan’s Prem with a ‘Heads I win, Tails you lose’ toss. By the time the slackjawed Salman figures out he’s actually won, a triumphant Aamir is long gone.

    What makes us trust in this random 50:50 toss?

    The question was most profoundly debated in a 1953 Donald Duck comic where the phenomenon of using a toss to determine all decisions was dubbed ‘Flipism.’

    Donald, after meeting the weird Professor Batty who tells him to trust in the coin and follow Flipism, loyally does what the tosses tell him, landing up in a world of trouble and blaming the coin.

    Yet others are more discreet in their use of the same.

    It is only at the end of Asimov’s wonderful short story The Machine That Won The War that we learn that the omniscient all-powerful computer wasn’t really being consulted because one of the protagonists had been tossing a coin to make all his final decisions.

    Sometimes the coin doesn’t come up heads or tails.

    In Frank Capra’s classic Mr Smith Goes To Washington, for example, the only reason James Stewart’s Mr Smith gets to go to Washington is because a governor is trying to choose a senator between rival candidates Mr Hill and Mr Miller. He tosses a coin which lands on its edge, which leads him to drop both candidates and choose Smith.

    For Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay, screenwriters Salim and Javed stole the trick from the underrated 1954 Western, Garden Of Evil, where Gary Cooper and Richard Windmark draw cards to see who will stay back and fight the Apaches pursuing them. Windmark, the ‘winner,’ stays and dies.

    In Sholay, Jai, played by Amitabh Bachchan — whose coin always comes up heads — stays, saves the day and eventually dies.

    Jai’s trick coin became the stuff of legend, the kind of thing that films of today would have merchandised like crazy.

    What is most notable looking back at Sholay’s screenplay, however, is the fact that because Jai was cheating, it made all the tosses he’d seemingly ‘won’ over the course of the film all choices he had made instead of choices they’d stumbled into out of randomness.

    Therefore, despite Dharmendra’s Veeru staying alive and getting the girl and the flashier songs, and Sanjeev Kumar’s Thakur getting his hard-earned revenge by the final reel, the sequence of coin-based decisions ultimately makes it clear that Jai is the protagonist, the man who chose the way the story winded, and the true hero of Sholay.

    And all because of how wisely he used a coin.


    Liked by 1 person

    • AamirsFan Says:

      zabardast read!

      infact, all of the coin flips in the movie are an act of ‘heroism’ on jai’s part: coin flip to help thakur or not help him…coin flip to help thakur to take to the hospital or escape in the opening scene.

      You can see the ‘angry young man’ persona in jai in some parts and his overall intentions were always good. is he the true hero of the film? that is still up for discussion..but he is clearly the ‘good’ one in the jai-veeru jodi.

      Liked by 1 person

      • AamirsFan Says:

        you can see here that jai pretty much saves thakur’s life but in the moment he thinks its random. but maybe after that final death scene of jai..he probably realized that jai indeed saved his life with the ‘heads’ call…this movie is perfect.


  16. People don’t talk about any role that my father did — it is always Gabbar Singh. He regretted this. He would tell me, ‘I started at 25 floors and couldn’t go any higher because I had started too high.’

    Sholay wouldn’t have had the impact that it did had it not been for Gabbar Singh, played so well by Amjad Khan.

    While the world adores Amjad Khan in that career defining role, his son Shadaab Khan prefers Shatranj Ki Khiladi, Satyajit Ray’s classic where Amjad Khan played a character in total contrast to the Chambal dacoit — the last Nawab of Oudh, Wajid Ali Shah.

    Shadaab, who recently launched his first novel Murder In Bollywood, feels sad that audiences don’t look beyond Gabbar Singh.

    Growing up, I knew my father was very famous. But he never had any starry airs.

    My father never took himself or his stardom seriously. The atmosphere at home was very light, so we were not affected by his success.

    During school holidays, I would visit dad on movie sets. Many actors’ kids avoid film sets, as they can get hot and uncomfortable. Those days, there were no vanity vans. The sets were not air-conditioned. But I would love to watch the shoots — it was like education for me.

    Dad was lenient with us, mom was strict. Neither raised a hand on us. Dad would laugh off our mistakes. We knew our limit and never crossed it.

    Teachers did not give me special preference because I was Amjad Khan’s son. My school Maneckji Cooper, in Juhu (north-west Mumbai) had many star kids. Twinkle and Rinki Khanna, Tejaswani Kolhapure, Farhan and Zoya Akhtar, Sajid and Farah Khan, Sharman Joshi, Rani Mukerji.

    I watched Sholay when I was three years old. When I saw my father getting beaten up, I got very upset.

    My mother tells me I started screaming and yelling bad words that I had picked up from somewhere. I wouldn’t stop, and my mother and grandmother were very embarrassed. They quickly took me out of the theatre.

    Sholay is a great film, made by a great director, Mr Ramesh Sippy. It is one of those rare films where everything falls in perfectly. My father, of course, was the highlight.

    My father gave nuanced performances in Sholay and Shatranj Ke Khiladi — those were the two films where he got a chance to prepare for his character. In those days, actors did not research their roles. Today, even a mediocre actor prepares for his role and is called a great actor. All you have to do is graduate from the National School of Drama, and you are called a great actor.

    People don’t talk about any role that my father did — it is always Gabbar Singh.

    My father regretted this. He would tell me, ‘I started at 25 floors and couldn’t go any higher because I had started too high.’

    My father was happy about Sholay, but somewhere it pinched him that everybody spoke to him as an actor only from Sholay’s point of view. If they had seen beyond Sholay, he was a far better actor what they took him to be.

    My father never told us the hardships he went through while shooting for Sholay. At that time, my grandfather (the character actor Jayant) was suffering from cancer.

    He gave more than 70 takes for his first shot, even after a lot of rehearsals. After that, they didn’t let him shoot for the entire schedule.

    But my father never spoke about those days.

    It didn’t matter to him how much money he had in his wallet; what was more important was that he should sleep peacefully at night.

    He never spoke about actors who were jealous of him or directors who gave him a hard time or producers who made him run around.

    I know Salimsaab (Khan) and Javedsaab (Akhtar) were instrumental in getting my father this film. More than Javedsaab, it was Salimsaab who backed him completely.

    When the film released, it did not do well. There was lot of pressure on Ramesh Sippy to make drastic changes, and one of the suggestions was that my father’s voice should be dubbed as it was too weak.

    The pressure was so much that even Salimsaab, who was backing my father, agreed to it.

    It was Amitabh Bachchan who told Rameshji not to tinker with the film. Rameshji finally let everything remain the way it was.

    Because of this incident, there was a misunderstanding between my father, Salimsaab and Javedsaab. As long as dad was alive, there was friction.

    A few days after my father passed away, Salim saab called me home and said, ‘What happened between your father and me happened a long time ago. Now your father is no more. Let’s put it behind us.’

    That was a very magnanimous gesture.

    My tuning with his sons, Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail is good. I get along with them, but my true fondness is for Salimsaab because of that one gesture.

    My father became famous, but he never changed; the people around him changed — not family, but those sycophant chamchas. They started gathering around him, and giving attitude.

    My father was too simple a man; he couldn’t see through them. He mistook the chamchas for friends. That was his error.

    These people would come home at 8am, so they could tag along with him for his shoots. They would come on Sundays for lunch and dinner; they were just free loading. They would go wherever he would go.

    Dad’s friends from his college days would always be there for him; they never made a nuisance of themselves. They never visited film sets or sit in on script-reading sessions.

    These chamchas affect your career because they tell you what projects you should take and gossip about what other actors and directors say about you. This is bound to affect your judgment and relationships with others.

    These chamchas brought my father down.

    Another thing that affected my father’s career was his accident. My father was travelling to Goa for a shoot, when he met with a near-fatal accident. This was post Don.

    He gained tremendous weight because of it, and couldn’t do anything about it. He never recovered from that accident.

    I was not home when my father passed away. I came home at 8 pm, and that’s when I learnt about it. He was just 48.

    I was 18 at the time. I took it very badly. It took me more than a year to come out of it. I miss my father all the time.

    I had a very friendly relationship with my father. We had discussed my career plans, but we never thought he would go so soon.

    My father was happy and content, but he did not get his due. That still rankles.

    Mediocre actors are considered great and he is considered great only for one role in Sholay. He was a better actor than all of them.

    I feel his best performance was in Shatranj Ke Khiladi. It was a very complicated role. Sholay is his second best.

    My father’s comic timing was very good, but I never liked the idea of him doing comedy. If he was alive today, I would have told him not to take up comedy roles. Or else, take up some like Qurbani, very sparingly.

    People don’t understand the difference between comedy and buffoonery.

    Had my father lived, I would have told him to do more powerful villain roles like he did in Lawaaris.

    I don’t think any villain has replaced my father yet. Amrish Puri was a very talented actor with a wonderful voice. He was a nice gentleman and very professional. Prem Chopra is a great actor. But my father was always one step ahead — not only because he did Sholay, but because he was a complete actor.

    People say I look like my father, but I don’t want that to be my calling card. I’m not bothered about people comparing me to my father because I am confident that given the right role, I can hold my own against any actor, including my father.

    Comparisons don’t frighten me.

    What upsets me is being compared to him without being given a chance. I don’t like living under someone’s shadow.

    I will always love my father, but my goal is not preserve a legacy but to carve my own niche as an actor or a writer.

    Whatever I do now will carve a separate identity from my father and that is the way I want to move forward.



  17. To the movie’s credit, I don’t think it intended to. For every time I watch Sholay telling myself that it is nothing more than a ‘brazen potboiler,’ the movie works. However, each time I take it for this iconic masterpiece, Sholay falls short; terribly short. Meaning, a movie with a stature built on the entire premise that it was a gigantic money-spinner in its time. ‘We saw it playing in a theatre for 5 years. Who are you to disown it over one viewing?’ aficionados seem to ask me.
    Etiologically speaking, Ramesh Sippy’s blockbuster was essentially Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai made more digestible and churned up. The approach was roughly like Sergio Leone’s approach to Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (remade as A Fistful of Dollars): Take a story with mythical undercurrents and present it as a case-study for machismo.

    What got lost in those two instances of homogenisation is the social angle that set the base for the machismo to play out.

    In both Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, there are two kinds of conflicts. The central conflict is, of course, one that arises out of the ‘Good Guys’ standing up to the ‘Bad Guys.’ But a less obvious conflict is the simmering distrust that the villagers have for their supposed saviours. It’s the second kind of conflict that builds interior tension, helps Kurosawa’s narratives discover melancholy even in their exaltations and finally makes those movies transcend their genres
    owever, because it undercuts the internal conflict, Sholay, like Leone’s version of Yojimbo, has to get to its viewers by relying mainly on the ‘Giant Sweep’ that characterises most modern-day Westerns.

    Now, on the topic of Sholay’s most famous iconography. I call Gabbar Singh an iconography, and not a character, because everything he does in the movie is essentially a piece of theatre. What makes his theatre interesting is that while everyone else in Sholay (from Thakur to Basanti’s steed) is caught up in the self-seriousness of their pursuit, all Gabbar is solely interested in, is playing the part he has designed for himself.

    For a country that was still not out of the War of 1971 and slowly getting entangled in the Emergency of 1975, Gabbar represented a hip version of the country’s disillusionment with idealism. He was a both a ‘product of’ and a ‘misfit in’ the very society that created him. He is both, Sholay’s charm and its curse — the one factor that keeps most discussions about the movie alive, to date.


  18. Sholay is a member of the last generation of dacoit movies. Gabbar Singh was the most compelling of a set of rural bandits who have over the years become Hindi filmdom’s best-known villains of their type. Two of these characters were anti-heroes, more than out-and-out villains: Dilip Kumar, playing Ganga in Gunga Jumna, and Sunil Dutt, as Birju in Mother India.

    Gunga Jumna and Deewar (1975) were made about 15 years apart. They have almost exactly the same story. The anti-hero is the angry brother, forced by an unsympathetic society to break the law. He uses his earnings to pay for his younger sibling’s education. The younger brother eventually becomes a police officer, commits to bringing the wayward one to book, and is finally forced to pull the trigger.

    Gunga Jumna was one of Dilip Kumar’s finest films and Deewar among Amitabh Bachchan’s most riveting performances. They were so similar and so apart — one set in the unforgiving fastness of eastern Uttar Pradesh/western Bihar, and the other in the equally unforgiving universe of Bombay’s dockyard
    Mera Gaon Mera Desh starred Dharmendra as small-time crook, persuaded and almost emotionally blackmailed by his mentor, played by Jayanth (Amjad Khan’s father in real life), into protecting a village from the terror of Jabbar. It was one of Dharmendra’s best roles, and as an actor he will probably cherish it more than even Sholay. Vinod Khanna as Jabbar matched him inch for inch, including in a finale that borrowed from High Noon, with Dharmendra reprising Gary Cooper’s titanic single-man battle against a bunch of bandits, down the deserted streets of a forsaken town/village.

    Watch the film and the climax if you can; it is a fitting complement to Sholay — Veeru to its Jai. Or Jabbar to its Gabbar: the bandits they don’t make anymo


  19. ‘Kaala Patthar’, a Bollywood film which was released in 1979 completes 36 years in Indian cinema. Acknowledged for the outstanding performances of its star cast, this film is regarded as one of the classics of all time.

    On this day, we bring you the list of facts that you may not be aware of about this classic film ‘Kaala Patthar’.



  20. THE REEL

    ‘Whatever could go wrong, went wrong’: Ram Gopal Varma gets candid about his reviled ‘Sholay’ tribute

    “I thought if Sanjeev Kumar didn’t have hands how could he have shaved every day?” and other such misguided decisions that led to ‘Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag’, as revealed in his collection of essays, ‘Guns and Thighs’.

    Ram Gopal Varma · Dec 01, 2015 · 10:14 am · Culture

    ‘Whatever could go wrong, went wrong’: Ram Gopal Varma gets candid about his reviled ‘Sholay’ tribute

    The idea of doing something with Sholay came around five-six years ago, when one day I got a call from Sasha Sippy saying that his grandfather Mr G. P. Sippy wanted to meet me. As he is a respected senior member of the fraternity as well as the producer of Sholay, I went all the way to town to meet him.

    There Sasha Sippy mentioned that they were interested in making a sequel to Sholay. He already had a storyline worked out which revolved around Babban or ‘Junior Gabbar’, the son Helen bears Gabbar Singh after he sleeps with her post the ‘Mehbooba’ song.

    The big problem with making a sequel to Sholay was that some of the characters had been killed off in the film and some of the actual cast had died. One of the central characters Jai, played by Amitabh Bachchan, had died in the film and Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan had passed away in the real world. Therefore, one had to make do with the remaining characters and cast, and possibly create new characters.

    According to Sasha’s story Helen’s son wanted revenge for his father Gabbar singh, who was behind bars because of Jai and Veeru. Veeru and Basanti visited Ramgarh village now and then to meet Radha, who was still residing in the village. They were kidnapped by Junior Gabbar. Then both Veeru and Basanti’s sons come to the rescue…

    In this plot, he wanted me to weave in a part for Jackie Chan. I first thought he meant some local actor named Jackie Chan, till I realized that he was talking about the Hong Kong superstar. Sasha Sippy’s Jackie Chan brainwave was owing to the runaway success of Rush Hour where an American and an Asian actor were teamed together. I found the whole thing so bizarre that I politely declined the offer and came away laughing. Little did I realize that the last laugh would be on me…!

    Kya Socha, Kya Nikla?

    Anyway, cutting again to the flashback, on my way back from the meeting with the Sippys, it suddenly occurred to me that if the story of Sholay was set in contemporary times in a city, it might be interesting. I bounced it off some people around me and they all thought it a splendid idea.

    Then just for the heck of it, I started effecting simple changes such as instead of Gabbar’s famous ‘Kitne admi the?’ he should say ‘Kitne’. I thought if Sanjeev Kumar didn’t have hands how could he have shaved every day? So let’s have Thakur with a beard. So I basically went on this trip of literally interpreting shots and dialogues and scenes, and completely forgot the basic emotional connect of the film, which was the only thing that would have made a sequel work.

    When I was dissecting each of the shots and scenes, people around me also came under the spell and I started thinking that maybe over the years Sholay had completely broken up into audio-visual bytes. You still remembered lines from it, made caricaturish characters from it and remembered particular scenes and shots. So it was kind of fragmented into parts and you didn’t look at it as a whole film experience, and that’s how it became at least in my mind.

    I psyched the people around me also into thinking that way. I know it sounds stupid, it sounds stupid to me too now. I made a few people sit and started talking about for example Amitabh Bachchan’s character. In Gabbar’s introduction, I told them he would be drunk with power, hence have a laidback stance. And he would have a characteristic laughter sounding like a cough. Everybody around me thought it a fantastic interpretation.

    When the film was released, someone came up to me and told me Gabbar looked like he had fever in his introductory scene in the film as he is coughing… So everything I thought so seriously about turned out seriously wrong.

    One day as I was sitting around with four-five people, a commercial poster designer came to me with a poster design of Gabbar. My first instinct was, ‘Why would any city dweller wear such clothes’ because my idea at that point of time was still to make it very realistic but the people around me said it was fantastic.

    Then I took it over to Mr Bachchan, and he also said it was fantastic. But Mr Bachchan also didn’t know what I had in mind. He took it for granted, the professional that he is, that I knew what I was doing. And he had developed so much of trust in me as a director post Sarkar, he thought I must be having some reason behind designing such a look. Seeing that Amitabh Bachchan also thought it fantastic and other people around also found it fantastic, I put down my own resistance to a mental block.

    Then with that look as a reference point, I started changing the look of each of the characters and situations, what kind of a place he would stay in, etc… I tried to match everything to that look and obviously couldn’t because the scenes and characters and emotions were at loggerheads. So I started manipulating things or psyching myself and whoever was there. Each of the actors, whether Ajay Devgan, Sushmita Sen, Mohanlal, Amitabh Bachchan, Nisha Kothari or Prashant Raj, was completely convinced the film was heading in the right direction primarily because of my psyching. So they were also not able to look at the film in totality. Also, by that time, the hype around my remaking Sholay was so much, it was almost impossible for me to detach and take a fresh look at it.

    To complicate things further, initially the lawyers told me that there was no copyright problem, and I didn’t need to take rights because of my completely fresh interpretation. After I started, they said you can’t do this and you have to change this character, you cannot have these many scenes in a sequence, so I kept changing scenes and characters. It is very dangerous to start changing scenes once you start a film because you don’t know what is going to be affected in the final cut.

    I could not get the title Sholay, so like Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar or Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, I settled on Ram Gopal Varma ki Sholay. Then, by the time it was released, the court gave an order not to use the word ‘sholay’. I had no choice but to substitute it with something that had a meaning close to sholay. So we just chucked out ‘sholay’ and bunged in ‘aag’ and Ram Gopal Varma ki Sholay became Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag. In short, whatever could go wrong, went wrong, with Aag.

    But all these are still minor hazards of being a filmmaker, compared to the dangers of being surrounded by people who will not tell one the truth. It is not that they necessarily mean to cause any harm, but they may just not want to be contrarian or may be afraid or psyched or may just, mistakenly, believe that the filmmaker is always moving to plan.

    In also came as a shock to me that most people in the twelve to thirty age group hadn’t seen Sholay. So they couldn’t make head or tail of Aag, which was a stylized interpretation premised on the notion that the audience had all seen the original orthodox version. As for the people who remembered the original Sholay, they didn’t like the intrusion of new characters and the new way of telling the story. So, to all of them, Aag looked like a ridiculous collage of scenes going nowhere and it became one of the biggest disasters of Indian cinema.

    When people ask me if I was hurt by the brickbats, I must say I wasn’t, because I learnt a lot from the experience and I truly believe that I am a better director today because of Aag. Yes, I do feel terribly guilty because I made so many people, actors, technicians and investors party to a blunder I was single-handedly responsible for—from my preposterous rehash of the dialogues to going against my gut feeling about Gabbar’s look and the ridiculous title. They put in their time, money and hard work and trusted my vision and suffered the consequences for no fault of theirs.

    But one thing about Aag that makes me happy is that the film did manage to provide mass entertainment if only in ripping it apart. The one thing I regret most about Aag is that, being the butt of it, I was the only one who didn’t get to f**k it.

    Excerpted with permission from Guns and Thighs Why I Called Amitabh Bachchan an Idiot, The Women in My Filmy Life, My Affair with the Underworld and Other Stories from My Life, Ram Gopal Varma, Rupa Publications.



  21. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/sholay-emerges-as-bollywoods-most-successful-re-run-product-even-after-20-years/1/289356.html

    Trade pundits maintain that, to date, no theatre has lost money on Sholay, and that at any given time, the film is running somewhere in India. ‘As they used to say about the British Empire,” remarks distributor Shyam Shroff, “the sun never sets on Sholay.”
    Ironically, the film had trouble finding buyers when it was first released. Its exorbitant Rs 2 crore budget necessitated a selling price of Rs 20 lakh per territory – double the prevailing price of about Rs 10 lakh, and so distributors were not forthcoming. “We bet our last shirt on Sholay,” recalls Ramesh Sippy, “and we had no idea how we were going to recover the money.”

    Adds his father G.P. Sippy: “I didn’t even have a shirt to wear when the film was over.” But the Sippys had stood strong even when the film was just a two-line plot created by the script writer duo, Salim-Javed. The original outline, about an ex-army man and two court-martialled officers, was sold to producer Baldev Pushkarna who had hired Manmohan Desai to direct. But the team got busy with making Chacha Bhatija and the Sippys bought Sholay.

    Two weeks before the first shooting schedule, Danny Denzongpa, the original Gabbar, opted out, citing date problems. Within days Amjad Khan, the son of character-actor Jayant, was ‘outfitted’, tested and hired at Rs 500 a week. The original climax, which had the Thakur killing Gabbar, had to be replaced by a tamer version, in which the police intervene because the Emergency-time censors felt that the former would have had “too much impact”


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