It set a trend of ‘bromance’, redefined the quintessential villain and introduced some epic live action in Bollywood. Top that with iconic dialogues and a memorable cast. Forty years since it hit the screens on August 15, 1975, “Sholay” continues to entertain due to its evergreen ‘victory of good over evil’ theme, says megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who essayed one half of Jai-Veeru.
In an email interview with IANS from Mumbai, the 72-year-old went down memory lane and shared his thoughts about the Ramesh Sippy directorial.
Penned by the indomitable Salim Khan-Javed Akhtar duo, the movie is about two petty thieves — Jai (Amitabh) and Veeru (Dharmendra) hired by a police officer (Sanjeev Kumar) to exact revenge on a ruthless bandit (Amjad Khan). Hema Malini and Jaya Bhaduri essayed the love interests of Veeru and Jai.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. “Sholay” is one film which has transcended generations of Hindi film buffs altogether. What is it, according to you, that helps the movie to resonate even today when a lot about Hindi cinema has changed?
The victory of good over evil and…most importantly, poetic justice in three hours! You and I shall not get it in a lifetime.
Q. Many have said “Sholay’ had flopped at the box office. Was it a disappointment back then for you and the team?
In this profession, we are programmed for failure and success. Yes, when an effort fails, we feel disappointed but get back on the horse to ride again. Our disappointment on this one lasted a day, because after that it converted itself into success.
Q. Given the fact that “Sholay” has become a cult movie over the years, do you consider it as a career-defining film even though the 1970s saw you featuring in some of your best works like “Zanjeer” and “Deewar”?
I look upon every film of mine to be career defining, both those that failed at the box office and those that did not.
Q. “Sholay”, in many ways, was trendsetting — whether it was the ‘bromance’ between Jai and Veeru; a villain like Gabbar Singh; the outdoor shoot in Ramanagara; the action sequences, et al. Your comment, please?
A. It was a very well-scripted film and credit must go to the writers Salim-Javed first for its content. Ramesh Sippy ji as a director did many unconventional changes in its reproduction and its making – the location, the action coordination, camera work, 70 mm and the scale – I guess it all worked out fine.
Q. Often, you share anecdotes from the shooting of your films. Any special memory that you have from “Sholay”?
It would fill a book… But this is not the adequate platform I would imagine… Suffice to say it was an experience that was unforgettable.
Q. How did you end up landing in “Sholay”?
Salim-Javed had just finished ‘Zanjeer’ with me and recommended me to Ramesh ji. Guess that worked in my favour. I did, though, seek the blessings of Dharam-ji in putting in a word for me.
Q. Who, in your eyes, could play Jai-Veeru and Basanti, in a new “Sholay” remake?
I haven’t the foggiest…!
Q. Ram Gopal Varma attempted a remake titled “Aag”, and you featured in it too. But it didn’t quite work. Do you believe a film like “Sholay” was never meant for a remake?
It’s not ‘it didn’t quite work’…It’s ‘it didn’t work’. I believe several ‘Sholay’ remakes have been ventured into in some form or the other, but I doubt if they were able to create the iconic stature that the original did.
Q. Do you and Dharmendra and Hema still meet sometimes and recollect memories of the film? You have continued to do films with Hema, but have you come across offers to star with Dharam?
We do not seek appointment to deliberately talk about “Sholay”, but we do meet on and off… And, yes, if there is any reference to “Sholay”, we do talk on it. Yes Hema-ji and I continue to work together and, yes, Dharam ji and I have been considered for films but they have not materialsed.