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Some Fires (Sholay) Can Never Be Put Off Or Forgotten….


Ali Peter John

It is forty-four years since a film called “Sholay” was released. It was a film that never let the media of those times rest, as it made news every day from a specially elected set of an entire village called Rampur somewhere in Bangalore. There were rumours about the film being based on a Hollywood blockbuster or an updated version of a small time Hindi film “Khotey Sikke” directed by Narinder Bedi who had seen “The Godfather” and had said that he could make ten films inspired by that one film.“Sholay” was the talk of the industry even while it was being made. Some said director Ramesh Sippy was making a classic, but most said that he was making the biggest mistake of his life, but he had tremendous confidence in himself and the subject based on a script by Salim-Javed who were once assistants in the story department of Ramesh Sippy’s company, Sippy Films.

Ramesh Sippy had assembled a very fiery cast of actors like Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini, Jaya Bhaduri and two comparatively new actors Amitabh Bachchan and Amjad Khan. There were other actors who made cameo appearances, like Leela Mishra, Asrani, Jagdeep, Viju Khote,A.K Hangal and Sachin among others.

The film was released on August 15,1975. The first show was held for all the celebrates of the industry and some select critics. The audience showed signs of getting restless before the interval and when the show was over, the unanimous opinion was that Ramesh Sippy had burnt all his goats and was in to face certain disaster. The film was declared a flop after the very first show. One of the leading critics called it ‘the disaster of the decade’. Others cursed Ramesh Sippy for having a very weak villain like Amjad Khan who played Gabbar Singh. They said Sippy should have taken either Shatrughan Sinha or Danny Danzongpa in the role, but what had to happen had happened and Ramesh Sippy could do nothing about it and could only keep his fingers crossed.

He however didn’t have to keep his fingers crossed for more than three days. The fire became a wild fire within the next three days and Amjad Khan became a star-villain, the likes of which was not seen before in Hindi films.

The film which was expected to be ‘the disaster of the decade’ went on to become one of the biggest hits of all time and a cult film. It still runs to full houses whenever released,in spite of people seeing it several times in theatres and on different channels….

Forty-four years have passed and time has again proved that no power can overcome it. Let’s take a quick look at all those who were the ‘sholays’, today, in October 2019.

The only flame that is still burning bright after so many years is Amitabh Bachchan who was on shaky grounds when “Sholay” was made. The debate about whether Dharmendra recommended Amitabh for the role of Jaya is still going on, with Dharmendra being sure that he did and Amitabh maintaining a mysterious silence about it. At seventy-seven, Amitabh Bachchan is busier than all the ruling actors of today and has only recently being declared as the winner of Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

Dharmendra is eighty-four and has almost retired from films, but very active working as a farmer in the fields surrounding his farm house in Lonavala.

Hema Malini and Jaya Bhaduri who had two very powerful roles in the film, Hema as the talkative Basanti and Jaya as the widow in white who spoke through her silences have retired as actresses are very active as politicians. Hema is the vote-catcher for the BJP and is a MP from Mathura in UP and Jaya is a representative of the Samajvadi Party in the Rajya Sabha.

Sanjeev Kumar as he had predicted himself (that he would die before he was fifty) died when he was only forty-seven.

Amjad Khan had become a must in every big film, but just one accident in which Amitabh was also involved brought his flourishing career to a crashing end and he too died when he was forty-seven.

The others who have lost out to time and death in all these years are Leela Mishra,A.K Hangal, Satyem Kappu,Mac Mohan, Major Anand and Viju Khote who died just a fortnight ago. Among the others who have hopefully left for a fireless world are music director R.D Burman, lyricist Anand Bakshi, cinematographers Dwarka Divecha and K.Vaikunth and actor Jalal Agha.

There are some of the flames (“Sholay”) like Ramesh Sippy himself who tried to make other films like “Sholay”, but has consistently paid and is now living a retired life with his wife Kiran Juneja and spends his time being on the juries of different film festivals and attending any and every party he is invited to. He last tried to make a film called “Shimla Mirchi”, but nothing has been heard about it. It seems like he will always be remembered as the maker of “Sholay”.

Salim and Javed who were the most formidable team of writers, who were also the highest paid created history and hysteria when they split in the eighties are now in their own. Salim Khan is now better known as the father of Salman Khan and takes care of his career and his welfare trust. The man who was considered a mighty writer of big films is now satisfied writing a small column in one of the Hindi newspaper of Rajasthan. Javed Akhtar who had taken off in a big way as a lyricist was forced to take a back seat by the industry which felt hurt when he harmed its interests when he was the member of Rajya Sabha. He now only works for his son Farhan Akhtar and daughter Zoya Akhtar and is a popular face on TV channels airing his often controversial dues on important issues that matter to the country.

Sachin who played the young son of A.K Hangal, both Muslim have just completed writing his autobiography which was released on his completing fifty years as an actor. He is planning to direct a Hindi film after making a number of very successful Marathi films.

Asrani tried his best to be the comedian he was, but the new breed of comedians forced him to back out and he now sometimes does commercial Sindhi theatre with other one-time popular actors like Padmini Kolhapure and Shakti Kapoor and has started one more academy for acting in Mumbai, which already has more than thirty such acting academies and institutes. Jagdeep has totally gone out of circulation, only because of age-related problems.

The film is still as fresh as it was in 1975, but the men and women who made it possible have been burnt out by the ruthless ways of time, but they have done themselves the great honour of being an essential part of one of the most popular and successful films ever made in the history of Indian cinema.

Kabhi kabhi kuch sholay aise bhadakte hai ki unko khatam karna mumkin hi nahi namumkin hai!!!

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News,  Sholay, Hema Malini, Ramesh Sippy, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan