Tag Archives: Sholay

I’ve Seen SHOLAY!

by Amit Upadhyaya

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‘I’ve seen Sholay more than 40 times. In theatres!’ I’ve grown up in a family full of these stories about what is arguably the most-loved Hindi film of all times. I’ve loved Sholay but always wondered about this fuss of watching it in a theatre.

Therefore I stepped into Wave cinemas, Noida, Audi 01, to understand the mystery. 4th January, 2 pm.

I was handed the 3D glasses. I was, regrettably, 10 minutes late and missed the title sequence. The legendary theme song and the horse ride to Thakur Saab’s house. I will make amends, and will visit the theatre next week to rid myself of the sin.

The train sequence was underway. I sat there, instantly spellbound, absorbed by the finesse of the film. The action looked great. The visuals were as big as cinematically possible. Jai and Veeru, along with Thakur Saab, were enigmatic. Slowly I came to terms with the fact that I was watching Sholay on the big screen.

I don’t find it necessary to say anything about the film. If you’ve not seen the film, you are reading the wrong post. One after the other, the memorably and infinitely seen sequences played out. Nothing felt outdated, something that can’t be said about other greats from the era, including Deewar. The audience clapped, whistled, sang out loud. ‘Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti?’, ‘Haan, James Bond ke pote hain ye’, ‘Hamara naam Soorma Bhopali aise hi thode pad gaya’, ‘Kitne Aadmi the?’, ‘Kab hai Holi’… so on and so forth.  Everything was in place. The entertainment, the emotions, everything kept coming.

Memories too kept coming. My grandfather, who passed away last year, once bought me a PEN VHS of Sholay. I was 10-11 years old. I wasn’t allowed to touch the VHS. He forwarded, rewinded the sequences I loved to see. I sat there, at the dining table, through the Allahabad afternoon, watching the film. The afternoons get mixed up.

The couple sitting next to me recited the dialogues beforehand, as they might the Hanuman Chalisa. I was irritated in the beginning. Later, I could only smile.

Sholay is not a mere film anymore. It is a unison point in the Indian pop-culture. Good or bad, one’s liking of any film is subjective. Sholay is above that simple scrutiny of Good or Bad. It is just Sholay. Watching it in the theatre, for a couple of hours, had me in unison with the other beings who were there just for their love of Sholay. The theatre was full of love, reverence.

It was community living.

The film was coming to an end. Jai was dying in the arms of Veeru. Thakur’s shoes were all over Gabbar. Radha was still as lonely. Veeru was going to go the city without Jai. And then, the credits started rolling.

Eyes moist, tears rolling down, I stood there till the credits rolled on.

All the stories I had heard were now making sense. I had finally garnered the experience of watching Sholay in a theatre. And I can relay this piece of information, with pride, to the next generation, and hope that 40 years down the line, in 2054, they will also be fortunate enough to see it on the big screen, the only place where it really belongs.

Post-script:

I was told later that the man who told me most stories about Sholay, my father, had gone to see the upgraded 3D version of Sholay in Allahabad. He had instructed that no one should look at him while he watched the film. Apparently, he kept crying through.

Post- Post-script:

Mughal-e-Azam? Done.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge? Done.

Sholay? Done.

Deewar? Can someone re-release Deewar so that I die a peaceful man?

(Amit Upadhyaya, an Allahabadi turning his nose up at all things Delhi, is a student of journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. By his own admission, however, he tries to spend most of his waking hours over Bollywood – analyzing, watching, and planning future movies. He now has a gig as a sub-editor of the famous indie film website dearcinema.com)  

Garmi Nahi Badha Paye, Bullet Raja: A Review By Amit Upadhyaya

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(Disclosure: The writer is a big fan of the Director owing to their common city of origin: Allahabad.)

The first 5 minutes of Bullet Raja has a song called Don’t touch my body which is so ill-composed, so ill-shot that you know you are in for a long film. Patience levels are alerted at once. Mercifully, the film is bearable.

The story is about Raja Mishra, played by Saif Ali Khan. He is your average ‘UP’ guy. Which means he is jobless; looking for an opportunity. He meets Rudra (Jimmy Sheirgill), who becomes Jai to his Veeru. They are taken as ‘political commandos’ by a politician (played by Raj Babbar). So far, so good.

But the second half is such a disaster that you are taken off-guard. Plotwise, the second half is the last 10 minutes of Sholay.

Tigmanshu Dhulia has a unique style of filmmaking. He mixes heartland politics with a modern-day narrative style; but employs 70s touches in his one-liners. Till now, most of his films have got the balance just right, except Shagird and Charas: A Joint Effort. But this one goes awry.

He tries to bring out caste politics in north India. Fair enough. The film is set in the capital city Lucknow (which is well shot). Every character has a surname to notice, prominently the protagonist who wears his Brahmin-ness on his sleeve. Dhulia has even got a solid ‘buddy’ setting but it doesn’t go too far. One has to read too much because nothing is overt. And unfortunately, too much subtlety is not Dhulia’s strength. Sample this line:

Brahmin jab bhookha toh Sudama, jab rootha toh Raavan.

The film works only when such lines are thrown in, which isn’t too often. That is a big shame, considering Dhulia has flair for writing great one-liners. Watch Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns for that.

Jimmy Sheirgill is the only actor who makes his character work and he does it effortlessly. His ‘achcha achcha theek hai’ is wonderful. All others, including Saif Ali Khan, suffer from indifference. And what worse sign do you need of a film when the title role, played by a senior actor, goes so wrong. Is he the same actor who played the marvellous Langda Tyagi in Omkara? He is never in the film. The coolness doesn’t work. Lesser said about the hairstyle and beard, the better. Continuity, anyone? Sonakshi Sinha was also spotted somewhere.

What could have been a pointed commentary on caste politics in the mainstream is reduced to a simple vengeance tale. And even that doesn’t work. Dhulia can’t be accused of not putting in the effort but the result is too negligible. Time for some fresh air?

Raja Mishra, if only you had delivered on the promise. Garmi nahi badha paye, Bullet Raja. 

 

(Amit Upadhyaya is a student of journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. By his own admission, however, he tries to spend most of his waking hours over Bollywood – analyzing, watching, and planning future movies.)