Celebrating 40 years of timeless, cult cinema: Sholay

It's Sholay, the Indian western that continue to define the glorious history of Hindi cinema. After all, how can a movie hit the right nail like that!! I must have watched Sholay more than 50 times, no I ain't kidding! A movie that stays with me forever and still gives me goosebumps even today. A pure tale of masala entertainment with all the right ingredients concocted, Jai-Veeru ki dosti, Basanti and her Tangewali, Thakur and, of Course, Gabbar.

As Sholay celebrates 40 years in cinema, transporting us to the world of Ramgarh, Kitne Admi the aur Maasi being Kabab mein Haddi and Jai spoiling the fun of Veeru, I attempt a tribute to a movie that brought a nation together, relishing the pure magic of cinema and serves as a timeless, great reference point to students of cinema.

Timeless and fresh offering high voltage of entertainment, Sholay remains Hindi cinema's own unique Western adventure on celluloid. Belonging to a generation that missed the frenzy of the cult movie, I watched it on TV and DVDs on countless occasions and the background music still runs at the back of my mind. It's still playing havoc right now as I am writing this tribute to the movie that I can watch forever and still not sense a loopholes or dull moment.. It's cinema extravaganza at its best. Ramesh Sippy got it so perfect and one wouldn't be wrong to say that the film maker was ahead of its time. It's the best one can get in terms of entertainment, action, romance, a dreaded villain, talkative village bumpkin aka Basanti and her Tangewali, friendship immortalized by Jai-Veeru-they could have been lovers, silent lovers-Jai and Radha, comedy and romance cum awesome songs.

The movie rolls with Thakur, an upright man but obsessed with revenge for avenging the death of his family by Gabbar, the hunt for Jai-Veeru and of course our own Gabbar, Kitne Aadmi The. Sholay belongs to the masses but also to the classes and what a sacrilege to hear a cinema student tells that he or she never watched Sholay in its entire life. Dharmendra as Veeru defines flamboyance with aplomb as the happy-go-lucky guy, Jai played by Amitabh Bachchan gave the characters unique shades of broodiness and restrained act, making it an impossible task for anyone to emulate him even if they did, they failed miserably albeit to a mediocre level. Hema Malini as Basanti was one character that tickled the heart and one wouldn't miss watching her antics. She was everything that defines cuteness and endearing, Yoon toh Basanti!!!! Chal Dhano!

Jaya Bhaduri as Radha was the perfect anti-dote to Bachchan's brooding and angry young man character, silent and yet both of them united by a cursed destiny. The real hero remains Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh, whom everyone love to hate with equal fervor yet wouldn't shy to emulate. The grave menace, scary eyes and maniac laugh that would make one craves to be in  his place. Of course, off screen. This is cinema to me, powerful act, superb script by Salim-Javed, amazing songs, 'Yeh Dosti', Holi Ke Din, 'Mehbooba'. Master piece par excellence, scorching on screen and a real cinema experience and gem that needs no polishing. It's a treasure hunt and better let it be buried in Ramgarh.
The drama packed with dialogues that stays with us forever and we would never let it end. Whether it's Veeru suicide and finally telling, 'Mausi se kaun shaadi karega Saale or Jai mouthing 'Tera Naam Kya Hai Basanti, Haan yeh James Bond ka pota or Gabbar's famous, 'Yeh Haath mujhe dede Thakur.' Or, Sanjeev Kumar as Thakur Baldev Singh getting the last word in the climax after standing stoic throughout the film.
A tale of silent romance beautifully portrayed on screen between Jai and Radha, making eye contact and after Jai death, she closes the window. It tears the heart the parting scene powerful captured, something we could only read in literature, gently touching the core of the life of a widow and woman sexuality in a subdued manner. Of course, it is open to interpretation. Jai and Veeru could have been gay lovers in another era and bromance came with Sholay first and later with Karan Johar's Dostana. Yeh Dosti Hum Nahin Todenge is an antidote to the romance that was brewing somewhere between the male protagonists.

Being a die-hard Bachchan's fan, I feel that RGV ki Aag was the biggest mistake he made in his entire career. Call me conservative or not, I believe that classics and cult movies should not be touched and soiled, be it a master stroke like Sholay, Deewar, Don,Agneepath, Ganga Jamuna, Mother India or Umrao Jaan. Sholay is such a powerful cracker that Ramu was not spared and almost died like Gabbar. Only thing is RGV could have been a pale version of Gabbar.

A celebration of cinema that goes beyond 40 years that makes our life King Size as taalis and seethis thrown on the screen, defining and giving an identity to Indians. If reel could be imitated, Sholay would have been the obvious choice. How I wish I could watch Sholay on 70 mm screen and I mean the black-and-white version in the theater and not multiplexes. It would have been the perfect Sholay experience to taste every moment of its greatness like munching every sip of Falooda and swirling it on the tongue.
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