Sholay Story - Plot Outline
Tum Gabbar Singh ko nahin maaroge! Tum yahan Gabbar ko pakarke mere hawaale karne aaye ho. Zinda! Thakur
Sholay in Pictures
5 Star Cast
Amitabh Bachchan - Jai (Jaidev)
Dharmendra - Veeru
Amjad Khan - Gabbar Singh
Hema Malini - Basanti
Jaya Bachchan - Radha
Director : Ramesh Sippy
Producer : G.P. Sippy
Sholay was a multistarrer with a Rs. 2 cr budget (1975). It racked up a still record 60 golden jubilees across India, and doubled it's original gross over reruns during the late 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s.
It has the typical ingredients of the more successful Bollywood movies: action (some sections being loosely based on Westerns such as The Magnificent Seven and Once Upon a Time in the West ), memorable songs, comedy by the main actors and tragedy.
Top stars like Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri dotted the film, but it was the new actor Amjad Khan who walked away with the honor of immortalizing 'Gabbar Singh' in our minds. Sholay is regarded as the first mega blockbuster.
The uprighteous cop (Thakur) played by Sanjeen Kumar arrests a dreaded dacoit played by Amjad Khan and puts him in jail. Furious and mad with revenge, the dacoit escapes from prison and wipes off 'thakur's entire family. The dacoit also chops off the hands of the 'thakur'. It is now the 'thakur's turn to avenge the murder of his family and he does it from outside police system.
The 'thakur' hires two notorious criminals, Veeru and Jai (Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan), and trains them to confront the dacoit.
Sholay Story Line
A train arrives at a rural station and a lone police officer disembarks, looking for "Thakur Sahib" (thakur, literally "lord, master," is a respectful title for a member of one of the landlord castes who trace their lineage to ancient kshatriyas or warrior-aristocrats; Sahib means "sir"). As the credits roll, we follow his horseback journey through a Badlands-like landscape to the remote settlement of Ramgarh (“Rama’s fort”). Here he meets the Thakur, Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar), a retired police officer who is always wrapped in a gray shawl. Singh requests his visitor to locate and bring him two criminals, the scruffy, ever-smiling Veeru (Dharmendra) and the lanky, brooding Jaidev or “Jai” for short (Amitabh Bacchan).
The Train Sequence
When the officer asks what task these notorious repeat-offenders can possibly be suited for, Singh recounts his first meeting with them, two years earlier, when he was transporting them to jail via a freight train.
Immediately after they boast to him of their courage, the train is attacked by bandits, and they defend it and their wounded captor against a seemingly unending troop of horsemen.
But their moral ambivalence is revealed when they toss a coin to decide whether to bring the bleeding officer to a hospital (landing themselves in jail), or to escape (leaving him to die). In a motif that will be repeated, "chance" impels them to do the Right Thing. The flashback ends with Singh's visitor promising to search for the pair, but adding that, if they are out of jail and at large, it may be difficult to locate them.
The outdoor scenes, especially the train sequences were short some 50 km (30 odd miles) from Bangalore.
Friendship - Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge
First musical number: Veeru and Jai steal a motorcycle with sidecar and burst into a rollicking "song of the road," evoking the antics of Raj Kapoor's "vagabond" persona of the 1950s.
They approach a crooked but comical Muslim lumber dealer, Surma Bhopali (Jagdeep), with an unusual offer: he will turn them in to the police, collect the reward of 2000 rupees, and split it with them when they are released from prison. Cut to the prison, and another ludic interlude, including homage to Chaplin's Great Dictator in the crackpot jailer (comic actor Asrani), who boasts of his training under the British. The wily pair easily outsmart him and escape, but when they return to Bhopali to collect their promised thousand rupees, he betrays them to the police. Back in jail, they are located by the Thakur's agent, and Singh awaits them outside the prison gate when they are released, thus ending the comic digression and returning to the frame narrative. Singh asks them to capture the notorious outlaw (daku) Gabbar Singh; in return, he will give them the 50,000 rupees reward offered by the police. He pays them a 5,000 rupee advance, and promises another 5,000 when they reach Ramgarh.
They travel to the Thakur's village, where they come across chatterbox Basanti (Hema Malini) and her faithful, Tonga driving horse, Dhano. Instantly, Veeru falls for Basanti and tries to woo her at any cost; while Jai falls for Radha (Jaya Badhuri), the Thakur's widowed daughter-in-law.
In Radha, he sees someone who understands pain and sorrow, which he finds captivating. Each of the romantic pairs were involved with each other off screen. Audiences flocked to theatres to witness the beginnings of the Hema-Dharmendra and Jaya-Amitabh romances. Some of the romantic interactions were taken from the cast's actual personal experiences.
During filming, Jaya was five months pregnant with their first child. Jaya Badhuri and Bachchan married before shooting began. Even the bitter and cynical Jai confesses to Veeru of his desire to get married and start a family with Radha.
Their existence in the village is peaceful until they encounter the infamous Dacoit Gabbar Singh after Holi festivities.
The evil Gabbar Singh asks his men: Holi kab hai, kab hai Holi? Cut to rustic Ramgarh, where the virile Veeru and the loquacious Basanti join the villagers in celebrating Holi. Holi ke din dil mil jaate hain, rangon mein rang mil jaate hai, they sing even as the threat of an attack by Gabbar Singh looms over the hamlet. Sure enough, the joyous song is rudely interrupted by gunshots and the clatter of hooves. A shootout erupts. Terror and bloodshed quickly replace the colours of joy. The use of the metaphor of Holi as a portent of grave danger has never been quite as effective as it is in Sholay.
Helen's special dance number 'Mehbooba Mehbooba' is an all-time rage and is crucial in giving the cabaret dancer the epithet of Indian Cinema's Golden Girl.
The character of the jailor, played by Asrani, is loosely based on the clumsy Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the 'Pink Panther' fame.
Thakur's & Gabbar's role were the juiciest ones. Amitabh Bachhan & Sanjeev Kumar wanted to play Gabbar. Instead of casting Sanjeev or Amitabh, Ramesh Sippy thought of giving the coveted role to Danny Denzongpa, a well known Bollywood villain. Due to timing problems, Denzongpa backed out. In his place, Sippy cast newcomer Amjad Khan, who showed up to the audition in army fatigues, a gun belt and blackened teeth. Gabbar was the first Bollywood Villain who wasn't a 'Bling Singh' with multiple gold chains and a rumal tied around his neck. Not only did Amjad Khan create his wardrobe, he gave birth to a character Desi moms used to scare children with. 'So Ja Beta; Varna Gabbar Aajayega'.
Sholay is essentially a film about failure and loss. The failure of law and order leads to the attendant human losses: the loss of heirs, the loss of arms, the loss of comrades and the loss of dreams. Veeru's failure to recognise Jai's intentions amounts to a tragic betrayal in which both the friends participate. Perhaps subliminally Veeru knows that it is not Gabbar alone who engineers Jai's death. His own ignorance and facetious trust lead directly to the fatal encounter between Jai and the dacoits.
The final song appearing in the film "Aan Jab Tak Hai Jaan" is a powerful song that demonstrates Hema Malini's talent as Bollywood's Diva on various levels. This song is a visual treat because it showcases her dancing ability and also demonstrates the character of Basanti as one of Bollywood's most powerful females. In this song sequence, Hema Malini as Basanti, defiantly dances on broken glass and thwarts off the lewd advances of Gabbar Singh and his men to save the love of her life, proving that she is strong enough to defend herself against one of Bollywood's most memorable villains. Her character proves that not all of Bollywood's beautiful leading ladies are incapable of defending themselves and their men.
The original ending (that can be seen today on some DVD versions) shows the ex-cop killing Gabbar Singh. However, the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification (more popularly known as the Censor board) that has to pass movies fit for public viewing) found the ending gruesome, especially in the context of the prevailing times then, as India was under emergency.
The ending had Thakur kill Gabbar with his specially-made spiked shoes. The Board objected that a police officer would commit murder, and ordered the ending to be changed. The ending was changed to show the police arresting Gabbar Singh in the nick of time. Several other smaller changes differentiate Sippy's original 204 minute version from the censored theatrical release.