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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SUNNY, AMEESHA EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO FANS AS ‘GADAR’ CLOCKS 20 YEARS
Sunny Deol’s ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’ clocked 20 years on Tuesday and the star thanked the audience for making his film ‘an event’.
The 2001 film, that also starred Ameesha Patel in the lead, became an instant hit. The Anil Sharma directorial did not just impress viewers but also registered huge numbers at the box office. The actor-politician took to Twitter to express gratitude to all his fans who made the film a ‘historic’ affair. Sunny tweeted a video song from Gadar, ‘Musafir Jaane Wale’, featuring him and Ameesha.
Sharing the video, he thanked viewers for showering the action love story with so much love. Sunny wrote, “We made a film, you made it an event! #20yearsofGadar, I express my gratitude to everyone who made our film historic.”
Taking to Instagram, Ameesha uploaded a series of posts recalling her acting stint on the project. In one of the posts, she shared a few unseen moments from the set and captioned: “Gadar…behind the scenes of the most iconic film that Bollywood has seen till date…thank you all for the love..20 years of Gadar.”
Released on 15 June, 2001, ‘Gadar’ was a romantic drama set against the background of India’s partition. The film also featured late Amrish Puri and Lillete Dubey.
On the occasion, Lillete too took to social media to remember her work in ‘Gadar’.
“15 June 2001…. 20 years since ‘Gadar’ opened on this day. And what a storm it created.Remembering the making of the film and especially my wonderful co-star who also came from theatre — the man with the deepest baritone Amrish Puri,” she wrote.
DECIDED TO PRODUCE ‘LAGAAN’ AS NO ONE WAS READY TO DO IT, REVEALS AAMIR
Superstar Aamir Khan is celebrating 20 years since the release of his iconic film ‘Lagaan’. The movie, helmed by Ashutosh Gowariker, was nominated for the Oscars and appreciated by critics and audiences alike. Reminiscing about the journey of making the film, Aamir recalled that no one was ready to back it. Ashutosh narrated him the film’s script a few times and he enjoyed it but was not ready to produce it initially as he did not want to dive into film production. Every time Aamir would meet Ashutosh he would bring up the film but was told that no one was ready to produce it. He finally took the plunge to produce it and act in it after listening to the script again in the company of his parents and ex-wife Reena who enjoyed the story.
A DOCUMENTARY ON SALIM, JAVED IN WORKS
NEW DELHI: A documentary titled ‘Angry Young Men’ based on the lives of legendary screenwriters Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar is in the works with superstar Salman Khan’s production banner SKF (Salman Khan Films) teaming up with Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment and Zoya Akhtar’s Tiger Baby Films. Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the news on his Twitter handle. “Salman Khan – Excel – Tiger Baby join hands… Salim-Javed Documentary… #SalmanKhan, Excel Entertainment (#FarhanAkhtar, #RiteshSidhwani) and Tiger Baby Films (#ZoyaAkhtar, #ReemaKagti) to make documentary on #SalimKhan and #JavedAkhtar… Titled #AngryYoungMen,” he tweeted. The collaborative project that will capture the magic of the era that Salim-Javed created together will be helmed by Namrata Rao. Famously called as Salim-Javed, the duo has scripted many commercially and critically accepted films ‘Patthar’, ‘Dostana’, ‘Seeta Aur Geeta’, ‘Sholay, Mr India’, ‘Don’, and many more.
AKSHAY’S ‘BELL BOTTOM’ GETS A RELEASE DATE
MUMBAI : As lockdown restrictions are gradually easing in several parts of India amid the decline in Covid-19 cases, the ‘Bell Bottom’ team has decided to release the film in cinemas. Taking to Instagram, Akshay Kumar on Tuesday shared that ‘Bell Bottom’ is scheduled to release on 27 July theatrically. “I know you have patiently waited for the release of ‘Bell Bottom’. Could not be happier to finally announce the release of our film. Arriving on the big screens worldwide. ‘Bellbottom’ on 27 July,” he wrote. The movie was earlier slated to release on 2 April 2021. However, it got delayed due to the second wave of Coronavirus.
Directed by Ranjit M. Tewari, ‘Bell Bottom’ has been touted as a spy thriller. Vashu Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani, Deepshikha Deshmukh, Monisha Advani, Madhu Bhojwani, and Nikkhil Advani have produced the project, that also features actors Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, and Lara Dutta Bhupathi.
‘Bell Bottom’ has always managed to lead the change from the beginning. Even last year, it hit the headlines for being the first Hindi film to be shot and completed during the pandemic with exemplary on-set Covid management. Akshay has several projects in his kitty including ‘Atrangi Re’, ‘Raksha Bandhan’, ‘Bachchan Pandey’, ‘Sooryavanshi’, ‘Prithviraj’, and ‘Mission Lion’.
ADITI GETS NOSTALGIC ABOUT HER TELUGU DEBUT FILM
NEW DELHI: Three years ago on Tuesday Aditi Rao Hydari made her big Telugu debut with ‘Sammohanam’ and left everyone amazed with her performance. An Indian Telugu-language romantic drama, ‘Sammohanam’ once again established Aditi has one of the most bankable and versatile Pan Indian actresses in the country. Hailed as a strong debut in Telugu cinema, Aditi was heartwarming in the film. Aditi exclaimed, “Firsts are always special. I heard this story over a phone call with (director) Mohan Krishna Indraganti. I loved the story and said yes immediately. There were lots of well-meaning people who told me to do a more typical big-ticket film as my first Telugu film. I loved ‘Sammohanam’ and I went with my gut and I’m so happy that I did.”
I WAS REJECTED FROM 250 AUDITIONS BEFORE ‘MARDAANI’: TAHIR
MUMBAI: Tahir Raj Bhasin recently revealed that he was rejected 250 times before he was signed on by Aditya Chopra for ‘Mardaani’.
Tahir said, “Anything that’s worthwhile takes time and this is something I understood when I first came to Mumbai. I was rejected from some 250 auditions over 3 years before Mardaani but I used this as positive fuel and feedback. It meant I needed to grow and growth came from workshops and hours of practice.” He added, “The improvements that came as a result of obstacles prepared me to be propelled when the time was right. Strength lay in getting hit and in the will to keep moving forward. Today’s world is all about that simple message. We have all been affected directly or indirectly by an unforeseen time and courage is to make ourselves better, fitter and stronger for the test of time to come.”
Despite the overwhelming number of rejections, Tahir never lost hope and believed he was destined to shine in Bollywood. He said, “To be honest, I never saw my initial time in Mumbai as a struggling phase. It was an aspiring phase. I was visualising a dream and aspiring to make it real and it’s the hardship and journey that make the successes worth celebrating.”
Tahir’s upcoming projects include ‘Looop Lapeta’, ‘Bulbul Tarang’, ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’, and ‘83’.
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