No substitute for hard work: Ramesh Sippy on 45 years of Sholay - The Daily Guardian
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No substitute for hard work: Ramesh Sippy on 45 years of Sholay

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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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ADITYA TREATS FANS WITH AN IMPROMPTU MUSIC PERFORMANCE

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NEW DELHI: Aditya Roy Kapur made impressed his fans with his solo guitar performance.

Well, there’s not an ounce of doubt that Aditya happens to be one of the most loved stars. Now that the actor is shooting for his upcoming actioner ‘Thadam’ remake in Delhi, fans are thronging to catch a glimpse of him. Much to their excitement, the handsome and endearing actor decided to treat them with his magical voice.

Aditya’s impromptu show has elevated the excitement for his upcoming music album. For the unversed, just recently, the speculation around his music venture did rounds on social media. Meanwhile, the action hero is making noise for headlining the much anticipated ‘Thadam’ remake and essaying a double role for the first time. Aditya will also star in another out-and-out action drama ‘OM’.

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TAMANNAAHA MONG TOP 10 INFLUENTIAL SOCIAL MEDIA STARS IN SOUTH

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MUMBAI: The lines between regional cinema and mainstream films are blurring day by day. With the influx of more regional content pan-India, South Indian actors boast a massive fan following across the nation. Calculating their Instagram Influence using various metrics, Forbes India has released the Top 30 Most Influential South Actors on social media.

Touted as the rare combination of a superstar and a fine artist, Tamannaah has bagged the 10th spot on the list. With more than nine million followers on Instagram, the superstar is easily the most influential celebrity on the internet.

While talking about the same, Tamannaah said, “social media has become an integral part of all our lives, and it is a great platform to have an interaction with all my fans who have supported me in my journey. It is a special feeling to be listed as the Most Influential Social Media Star because it is a space that I share with my fans and followers.”

The top ten list also features Rashmika Mandanna, Vijay Deverakonda, Yash, Samantha, Allu Arjun, Dulquer Salmaan, Pooja Hegde, Prabhas, and Suriya.

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AYUSHMANN’SSOCIO-POLITICAL THRILLER ‘ANEK’S’ RELEASE DATE ANNOUNCED

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MUMBAI: 31 March 2022 has been locked as the release date for Ayushmann Khurrana’s film ‘Anek’.

Directed by Anubhav Sinha, ‘Anek’ is set against the geopolitical backdrop of Northeast India. It’s the second collaboration of Ayushmann with Sinha after ‘Article 15’. Giving a few details about his movie, Ayushmann said, “It’s only once in a while that an actor comes across a story that makes him jump out of his comfort zone. While I have always backed novel stories, Anek pushed me to perform with a renewed zest.”

He added, “It’s the kind of script that drives a person to give it your all. I am so proud that we’ve made a film like this and even more fortunate that I got the chance to headline it. It’s the kind of new-age cinema that I believe in and I am thankful to Anubhav Sir for choosing me to tell this special story.”

According to Sinha, it’s quite a challenge to make ‘Anek’. “It was a challenging film to write and a difficult one to make. We shot it in rough terrain but what makes it special is that the takeaway was so gratifying. It was a delight to work with Ayushmann again who with his depiction of Joshua breathed life into the story,” he said.

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NEW FILTER UNVEILED ON PRABHAS’ BIRTHDAY

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MUMBAI: Prabhas’ fandom knows no boundaries. The star is a global icon and enjoys a massive fan base. It’s that time of the year when the craze and love for him exceed any and every parameter, it’s Prabhas’ birthday. His fans do all sorts of surprising stuff to celebrate him and this year is no different. Ahead of his birthday, a new filter on Instagram has been unveiled. The filter has the words, ‘Global Prabhas Day’ written and plays a piece of soft and mellow music which is from the teaser of ‘Radhe Shyam’, as a portrait design comes on the screen and a little snowfall accompanies the same.

From Baahubali thalis to gigantic posters, to getting tattoos of Prabhas and more, his fans have always shown their love for the star. His Vikram Aditya from ‘Radhe Shyam’ got a new poster unveiled recently and a teaser of his character intro is all set to be released on his birthday. He will star in ‘AdiPurush’, ‘Salaar’, and Deepika Padukone starrer ‘K’.

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A CURTAIN RAISER TO ITALIAN EMBASSY CULTURAL CENTRE’S FELLINI RETROSPECTIVE

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Italian Embassy Cultural Centre is hosting a week-long Federico Fellini retrospective in collaboration with the India Habitat Centre. As part of the retrospective, eight of Fellini’s best-known films will be screened starting with his 1973 Academy Award-winning masterpiece ‘Amarcord’ on 23 October 2021. Along with introducing each of the eight films ahead of their respective screenings at the India Habitat Centre, I will also be introducing Fellini to the audiences while touching upon the importance of his films in India.

The legendary master Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini is not just recognised as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time but also as a great humanist whose lifelong work stands as a testament to his love for telling universally relevant stories about common people and life in Italy. Despite his origins in Italian Neorealism as a screenwriter for the luminary Italian director Roberto Rossellini, Fellini gradually emerged out of his shadows to carve a niche for herself with films like ‘The White Sheik’ (1952), ‘I Vitelloni’ (1953), ‘La Strada’ (1954), ‘Il Bidone’ (1955), and ‘Nights of Cabiria’ (1957). And then he took a huge leap with ‘La Dolce Vita’ (1960). Not many filmmakers in the world have succeeded in taking such a gigantic leap between films like the one Fellini took with ‘La Dolce Vita’.

But what did he do after it? He made ‘8½’ which is another major leap (it’s something that is unheard of except when maybe Ingmar Bergman made Persona). With ‘8½’, Fellini catapulted himself to an entirely different level of stardom altogether. The film in many ways also perpetuated the wide usage of the term ‘Felliniesque’ which would become synonymous with any kind of extravagant, fanciful, even baroque imagery in cinema—a sort of a superimposed dreamlike or hallucinatory imagery upon ordinary situations. Contemporary filmmakers like Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Emir Kusturica, and David Lynch have cited Fellini’s influence on their work. Fellini’s influence on Indian cinema is most evident in the works of Indian filmmakers like Mani Kaul (director of films like ‘Duvidha’, ‘Uski Roti’, ‘Nazar’, ‘The Cloud Door’, etc) and Kumar Shahani (the director of films like ‘Maya Darpan’, ‘Tarang’, and other movies)

‘Amarcord’, the first film to be screened as part of the retrospective, tells the story about Titta, an adolescent boy growing up among an eccentric cast of characters in a village near the ancient walls of Rimini in 1930s Fascist Italy (Rimini was where Fellini was born and the political turmoil during the rule of the Fascist regime in Italy also had a profound influence on Fellini’s life and work). The title basically translates to “I Remember” and aptly so. For, like many films of Fellini’s, ‘Amarcord’ is autobiographical in nature at so many levels. In fact, the character of Titta is based on Fellini’s childhood friend from Rimini who went on to become a lawyer. The two remained good friends all their lives. It is perhaps the last of Fellini’s undisputed masterworks. Even though Fellini would continue to make important films but ‘Amarcord’ in many ways is the last of his films to receive universal acclaim. It is also the last Fellini film to win the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film. The film is particularly noted for its criticism of Fascism as well as the Catholic Church but its comical tone cuts Fellini the slack to unleash a strong critique.

The romantic comedy ‘The White Sheik’, which will be screened on 24 October, follows Ivan and Wanda who visit Rome for their honeymoon. However, when Wanda suddenly disappears to find the White Sheik, the hero of a soap opera, Ivan struggles to hide it from his family who wants to meet his missing bride.

The third film to be screened as part of the retrospective on 27 October is ‘I Vitelloni’ which presents a character study of five young men at crucial turning points in their lives in a small town in Italy. One of the Italian maestro’s most imitated films, ‘I Vitelloni’ is said to have inspired directors like Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Phillip Kaufman, Barry Levinson, Joel Schumacher, Juan Antonio Bardem, Marco Ferreri, and Lina Wertmüller, among others.

The next film on the lineup is ‘Il Bidone’ which follows a group of swindlers who dress up as clerics and con poor farmers out of their savings. It will be screened on the 28 October followed by ‘Nights of Cabiria’ on 29 October and ‘La Dolce Vita’ on 30 October. On the final day of Retrospective, not one but two films will be screened: ‘8½’ and ‘Fellini Satyricon’.

The Federico Fellini retrospective was originally scheduled to take place last year, marking the centenary celebrations of the master filmmaker, who was born in Rimini, Italy in 1920. But, the retrospective had to be delayed by a year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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NEW STRATEGIES TO AMP UP YOUR INTERIORS IN THE NEW NORMAL

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The Coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal which has merged work with the living space. In these times, adding that extra ‘oomph’ can provide that change of environment you were looking for within your walls! Kshitij Mirania of Mirania Luxury Living shares those eye-catching strategies to amp up your interior game:

KINDLE WITH KITCHEN

Kitchen interiors are full of possibilities from hardwood to those modern cabinets. Replace or refinish those worn-out ones for a simply a new look and if modernising is the goal, bring in those glass doors and show off the shelving your nicest pieces!

CHANGE OF CURTAINS

Curtains has been named the underdog by many designers and for all the right reasons! It has the power to change the tone of the room, from stopping that extra heat to enter the room while lighting it up with colour to providing it the quick and colour it was missing. Finding the right curtains which match with the aesthetics of the room will surely be the easiest way to create a new environment without changing much.

ASTOUND WITH CARPETING

Room seems bigger with added warmth and texture? Well, the secret ingredient is that new carpet. Warm ones for the winter while lightweight is summer, carpet is an all-year accessory which will lift up your area. Since it is easy to store, think of it as an investment while purchasing as it will be something which can last you for many years to come.

STYLE-UP SURFACES

Flat, vertical and organic: the unbeatable arrangement for your coffee table. Add a stack of books with those gorgeous vases or sculptures and give it the finishing touches with flowers and plants and the work is done! All you have to do now is simply watch as those three ingredients come together to give your table that extra zing!

LIVEN UP THOSE WALLS

It is time to take out those old family photos and introduce them to the empty spaces on your walls! It will take you down the memory lane of those good-old-days while also providing a new look for the entire space with much ease. A two for one deal!

REPAINT-RENEW

Sometimes all you need is a small bottle white lacquer paint to change the colour palette of your living space. It will do miracles for those shabby, chipped out furniture you don’t know what to do with. Add that with PU paint for metals and watch your interiors come to life!

OLD COUCH, NEW LOOK

Why buy a new sofa when you can give the old one a makeover! The intention to change the colour can simply be satisfied with a slipcover and if the desire is to give it that extra colour then look no further from pillows and some knit throws. These small things will give you the effect you have wanted without cutting a hole in your pocket.

Kshitij Mirania is Partner and Head of Mirania Luxury Living (MLL).

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