The timeline of Indian cinema is divided into Sholay BC and Sholay AD. A classic and a masterpiece of its own kind, the film had everything — drama, comedy, romance, action and was way ahead of its times. As the film completes 45 years on 15 August, filmmaker Ramesh Sippy takes a trip down the memory lane. Excerpts:
Q: Sholay has completed 45 years. What is the best compliment you have received so far?
A: At times people say that Sholay is a film that is one of its kind. For an artist, I believe that there is no compliment bigger than that. Although yes, Indian cinema has progressed beautifully and wonderful films have been produced with perfect execution. But for me, just the fact that people still remember Sholay and refer to it in popular culture is extremely humbling.
Q: What according to you makes Sholay so great that it still remains a gold standard?
A: I definitely did not imagine the film to go on and become the huge success that it is today. I did believe in the story. We put in a lot of effort into it and gave it our all but I don’t think any filmmaker anticipates this, you know. There was a great amount of hard work put in, we did expect it to be successful, yes. But to be relevant even today, after 45 years, I think it is the attention to detail, the effort put in by the whole team to strive for the thought they had in mind regarding this project and their will to bring it into perfect action. As they say, there is no substitute to hard work. We had the finest actors, technicians, the first time some of them even came down from abroad for fight sequences, the script was worked upon, post production was done intricately, we gave the film everything we could. Our location was fresh, we literally built a whole village there. So yes! We did all of that.
Q: Tell us about your sittings and discussions on the film’s script with the legendary duo Salim-Javed.
A: During that time, we had only decided to make a film, we just had in mind that it would be an action, adventure film. I had never explored this genre in particular before and that’s why I really wanted to try something different this time around. When Salim-Javed came to us, they narrated the whole story to us in about 4 lines and we thought it fit our bill perfectly. The characters were not created at that point but the main storyline was as you see it today. Two guys from the Army along with Sanjeev Kumar’s role ‘Thakur’, who was also supposed to be an Army man. We altered that and made him into a police officer and the two main characters as young boys on the run when they get involved in this emotional, dramatic storyline, then we started defining the characters and everything started to fall into place by itself. It’s like the script generated itself from there.
Q: Your father produced the film. It was a big budget film of its times. Did he guide you or give you any creative advice while you were making the film?
A: Well, I will forever be grateful to him for the belief he placed in Sholay. The film was budgeted for Rs1 crore but it went up to Rs 3 crore and at that point in time, that was an insane amount of money to invest in a film. He always just made sure that I did not limit my creativity. So sometimes you plan things out and sometimes you improvise. We kept improvising along the way for this film no matter how long it took to make, no matter what lengths we had to go to, making sure each scene, each moment has a great impact. He was a very artistic man himself so he encouraged this.
Q:Every character has become immortal. Even ‘Dhanno’ became a star after the film. How such characters which are so uncanny, unusual, never seen before became so popular that they are relevant even today?
A: There was a lot of sentiment behind each character, even ‘Dhanno’. Because, imagine a horse, who cares so much about Basanti, runs up to save her from Gabbar’s army. So, all of these characters had a story line of their own, they brought their own essence to the film and had a lot to give to the whole plot of the movie. Even Jagdeep ji’s character ‘Soorma Bhopali’ gained so much significance. No character was just there along the sidelines, each character carried its own significance and contributed essentially to the entire story. That is why they are referred to even today.
Q: A film like ‘Sholay’ was declared a flop initially. What was your first thought and what was your response to the trade pundits and film critics?
A: This is actually a myth. The film had a brilliant cast and initially people might have been apprehensive about it considering it was a very big budget film with a lot of new techniques, the story was also essentially very different from what people were used to seeing. However, by the time we were done shooting, Amitabh Bachchan had two hit films released, he was already a big star, then there was Dharmendra as well and that drew in a lot of ticket sales for us well in advance of the release itself.
Q: Sholay is a film which tells you that there’s more to it. It has comedy, action, drama, comedy, romance, everything. Was it an experimental film of that time?
A: Definitely. The genre that Sholay delved into as a film was rather unexplored in India at that time. It was basically a full feature of everything full of emotions. Whether it was a central lead or a supporting character or even a villain, all of them had their own set of emotions and purpose that they brought to the storyline. An action adventure film, where there is a strong romantic storyline going on, along with a strong tale of friendship. So yes, I had never done something like that before and it was rather novel even for the industry at that point.
Q: Amjad Khan was not known before the film. He is now the most villainous and most remembered character of all times. He was standing in front of Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. Did you ever think that Amjad Khan wouldn’t be the most powerful man to play Gabbar Singh?
A: We had a lot of debate around Gabbar’s role for sure until we decided upon Ajmad Khan. Danny Denzongpa was chosen to play the character earlier but that didn’t work out as he had certain commitments already made. Javed Akhtar was the one who had seen Ajmad’s work before and was very convinced that he could play the role well. And we did narrow it down on him because when he came to meet the rest of us, we could totally see him fitting in right in place as Gabbar Singh. And the rest, everyone knows how Gabbar, despite being a negative character, became such a legend. Ajmal truly brought the character of Gabbar to life.
Q: What message would you like to give the filmmakers who are trying to make their own Sholay?
A: Well I don’t really get the point of making a remake as such unless of course you are adding an add value to the already existing concept by giving it your own flair. So, I would say yes, go ahead and make a remake if you can give it a new perspective. Sholay is a film set in a totally different era altogether and the social, cultural norms at that point were extremely different. So, if somebody can adapt that truly into today and give it a different perspective to it then yes but otherwise even I myself haven’t tried to make an attempt because everyone still fondly remembers the original Sholay.
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Falguni Pathak remarks ‘Wish I could take action’ over Neha Kakkar’s ‘Maine Payal Hai’ remake
The renowned singer Falguni Pathak is not happy with Neha Kakkar’s recreation of her iconic song ‘Maine Payal Hai Chhankai’. She said in a recent interview that neither the producers nor Neha made an effort to get in touch with her prior to or following the release of the new song, ‘O Sajna’. The veteran singer also said that she wished to take action against the Neha Kakkar song but was unable to do so since she did not have the song rights.
Neha has come under fire from several fans for ‘ruining’ the original. The original singer of the 1990s hit song, Falguni, reshared fan posts on Instagram Story, subtly criticising Neha’s rendition of the song titled “O Sajna.”
“How long you can go Neha Kakkar? Stop ruining our old classics for us. Falguni Pathak is the OG. Stop with it already,” one of the posts on Falguni’s Instagram Story read.
The actors Vivan Bhatena and Nikhila Palat were featured in the original song, which was launched in 1999. At a college festival, the song was performed as a puppet show. The song was a resounding hit. Recently, the updated version was unveiled.
The music video for “O Sajna” features Dhanashree Verma and Priyank Sharma. “O Sajna” was written by Tanishk Bagchi, who is renowned for reinventing classic Hindi melodies.
Ayan Mukerji says that Sharukh Khan’s cameo looks like Iron man
Brahmastra has been a great hit on the box office and people have loved the movie. Ayan Mukerji recently spoke about Shahrukh Khan’s cameo in the movie which has been the highlights of the fantasy-drama. The actor is seen as Mohan Bhargav, a scientist who wields Vanarastra. While discussing Shah Rukh’s cameo, Ayan compared his scenes in the film to Iron Man.Ayan Mukerji was quoted as saying in a recent report, “If you actually look closely, you will see the tonality of that scene is a little bit Iron Man-like. We always thought Vanarastra will always exist in the world of science, which is why we have shown him to be a scientist.”The filmmaker added, “The tonality of that scene, because it is a bit of an item sequence at the beginning of part one, is different from the tonality of the rest of the film. Brahmastra has a romance between Shiva and Isha, it has some sincerity in its tonality. But Shah Rukh Khan is kind of a hero, cracking jokes. So, I knew that that tonality is different, even when we were shooting it, we were like this is very exciting. We were also having fun while shooting that part as it was very playful.”Recently, Ayan had shared that not only Shah Rukh’s fans, but the makers have also been thinking about a spin-off for his character in Brahmastra. Ayan teased that the spin-off might tell the origin story of the scientist. Ayan had told in an interview, “Before the fans were saying it, we were also saying that ourselves. When we were shooting the sequence in 2019, we were also saying on sets. As we discovered the personality of the scientist, we said, ‘Yaar, we have to do stuff. We have to do the origin story of the scientist!'”The sci-fi drama was launched on 9 September in the cinemas and has been performing well.
Amitabh Bachchan reveals about his bonding with Aaradhya Bachchan
After a contestant from Amitabh Bachchan’s famous show, Kaun Banega Crorepati, asked a question from the host, he revealed that he is not able to spend much time with his granddaughter Aaradhya Bachchan, but he often gifts her pink-coloured hair bands and clips whenever she’s upset.When Amitabh informed the audience on KBC 14 that Vaishnavi is a reporter, she told him that it was her desire to interview him. She asked how he manages to spend time with granddaughter Aaradhya, since he is busy with work on so many films and shows. Amitabh said, “Yes, I am not able to spend much time with her. I leave around 7-7:30am, she leaves for school around 8am. She returns after 3-4pm and then she has homework and all to complete. Her mother (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) helps her with those. I return home around 10-11pm. She is already asleep by then.””Thanks to technology, we stay connected through facetime. It is only Sundays when she is free, and if I get the time, I play with her for some time. When she gets angry or upset with me, I gift her chocolates. And, what is it that women wear in their hair? Bands. Pink is her favourite colour so I gift her pink hair bands and clips when she gets upset. She becomes happy then.”The contestant also asked Amitabh to share his weirdest fan encounter and Amitabh told her, “It is weird when I say it but every fan is curious. We were once shooting in near a lake near Botanical Garden in Kolkata. We had to cross a lake and found 20-30 people standing on the other end. We were in a boat and I saw a man waving a paper and he kept screamed ‘one autograph please’. I called him. He carried the paper and pen in his mouth and swam over to our side. I hugged him and I also got wet. He was very happy when I gave him my autograph. But then he jumped back into the water to swim and the paper as well as the autograph washed away.”
Entire Bollywood mourns on the legend Raju Shrivastava’s death
The legend of stand-up comedy, Raju Shrivastava, who won many hearts as a stand-up comedian and an actor, passed away at the age of 58 on Wednesday.He took his last breath in Delhi’s AIIMS hospital.He was admitted after suffering a heart attack on August 10 while working out at a Delhi hotel gym. Several Bollywood celebrities grieved his death on social media platforms and paid tribute. Taking to his Instagram Stories, Anil Kapoor posted a photo from their film together and wrote, “Om Shanti.”Film director Vivek Agnihotri shared a video message on Twitter. He credited Raju for solely shouldering the trend of stand-up comedy. He wrote in Hindi, “There is no such friend or stranger whom Raju Srivastava did not make laugh. Raju brother, gone too soon. You were a true legend of stand-up comedy. Om Shanti #RajuShrivastava.” Actor Ajay Devgn posted a black and white photo of Raju on Twitter. He said, “In your lifetime you gifted us laughs & more laughs, on & off the screen. Your untimely demise makes me very sad. RIP Raju. Om Shanti. May the Almighty give your family strength in this hour of bereavement.”Sudhir Mishra tweeted, “Raju Srivastava has gone! Hopefully, the lesson that he leaves behind is that irreverence should be our default state. To laugh in the face of authority is a fundamental right. Alvida (Goodbye)!” Rajpal Yadav shared a photo of Raju on Instagram and wrote, “I have no words to describe this loss. You have left us all too soon. You will be missed my brother. I just can’t believe this.#RajuSrivastav #RIP.” “Raju Srivastava Om Shanti RIP,” wrote filmmaker Rakesh Roshan on Instagram. Sanjay Gupta said, “Rest In Peace Raju. Thank you for all these years of fun and laughter.”Mika Singh tweeted a photo of Raju and wrote, “The great comedian, the most humble and respected @iRajuSrivastava bhai has sadly left us with his memories. May God bless his soul, rest in eternal peace. Om Shanti.” Shekhar Suman said on Twitter, “Wat I was dreading for the past one month has happened.Raju Srivastava has left all of us for his heavenly abode.Devastated to hear the news.May God grant him eternal peace. #OmShanti.”Nimrat Kaur tweeted, “Deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Late Raju Srivastava ji. May God bless his journey into the light #RIPRajuSrivastava.” Divya Dutta wrote on Twitter, “Heartbreaking to hear about the sad demise of #rajusrivastava. My first film had him in an integral part. Thank you for all the smiles. laughs and warmth. RIP. May God give your family strength.”Raju Shrivastava’s brother, Dipoo Shrivastava told that he got call from the hospital at morning and he was told that Raju is no more. The legend is succeeded by his wife and two children. He was declared dead at 10:20 a.m.
MP minister wants a ban on the film “Thank God”
Vishvas Sarang, the education minister of Madhya Pradesh, has urged Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur to prohibit the upcoming film ‘Thank God’ starring Ajay Devgn and Sidharth Malhotra. In a letter to Thakur, Sarang claimed that the film depicts Chitragupta, a Hindu deity who, according to mythology, accompanies Yama, the god of death, in an inappropriate manner.
Sarang said that “for the past many years, many filmmakers and actors in Bollywood are making objectionable comments on the deities of Hindu society and including obscene scenes.”
According to the minister, Chitragupta is shown in the recently released trailer surrounded by “half naked” women, and objectionable remarks are made on his behalf by Devgn.
“Due to the objectionable remarks made by the hero of the film, Ajay Devgan, there is a lot of anger in the entire Hindu society along with the Kayastha society,” he wrote.
“It is requested to kindly prevent the sentiments of the entire Kayastha/Hindu society from being hurt by giving directions to immediately stop the telecast of the said film,” the minister added.
Meanwhile, the ministry of information and broadcasting has yet to issue an official statement. Chitragupta is said to have been assigned the task of punishing or rewarding humans based on their actions in Hindu mythology.
‘Thank God’ is a forthcoming family entertainer film starring Ajay Devgn, Sidharth Malhotra, and Rakul Preet Singh.
The film tells the story of a common man (Sidharth Malhotra) who, after an accident, finds himself in a world between life and death and meets Chirtagupta (played by Ajay Devgn). Chitragupta and Sidharth Malhotra play a game he calls the “Game of Life.”
The trailer and first song, ‘Manike,’ were recently released, and the audience responded positively.
While Sidharth and Rakul will appear as a new on-screen couple, this is Rakul’s third collaboration with Ajay Devgn, following ‘De De Pyaar De’ and ‘Runway 34.’ The film will be released in theatres on October 25th of this year.
First time in 3 decades, J&K LG inaugurates a multiplex in Srinagar
For the first time in three decades, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, inaugurated a multiplex in Srinagar on Tuesday.
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