Saturday, April 9, 2011

Everything about The 'Sholay' : No movie is better than this!

I actually watched Sholay recently and thought to share some info on it.


Download Sholay (English subtitled)

Sholay (Embers)

Theatrical release poster
Sholay Bollywood DVD 
Directed by Ramesh Sippy
Produced by G.P. Sippy
Screenplay by Salim-Javed
Starring Dharmendra
Amitabh Bachchan
Hema Malini
Sanjeev Kumar
Jaya Bhaduri
Amjad Khan
Music by Rahul Dev Burman
Cinematography Dwarka Divecha
Editing by M.S. Shinde
Studio United Producers
Sippy Films
Distributed by Sippy Films
Release date(s) 15 August 1975 (1975-08-15)
Running time 204 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget Indian Rupee ₹2 crore (US$444,000)
Gross revenue Indian Rupee ₹15 crore (US$3.33 million)
Sholay (Hindi: शोले, Urdu: شعلے, English: Embers) is a 1975 Indian action adventure film produced by G.P. Sippy and directed by his son Ramesh Sippy. It is considered among the greatest classic hits in the history of Bollywood, India's Hindi film industry.[1][2][3] Released on 15 August 1975, it stars Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri and Amjad Khan. The film, shot in the rocky terrain of Ramanagara, Karnataka,[4] is the story of two petty criminals hired to capture a ruthless dacoit by the name of Gabbar Singh.
When first released, Sholay opened to a tepid response, but word of mouth convinced movie-goers to give the film a chance, and soon it became a box office phenomenon.[5] It ran for 286 weeks straight (more than five years) in one Mumbai theatre.[6] Sholay achieved a still-standing record of 60 golden jubilees (50 consecutive weeks) across India.[7] It was the first film in the history of Indian cinema to celebrate a silver jubilee (25 weeks) at over a hundred theaters across India.[8] By some accounts, Sholay is the highest grossing film of all time in Indian cinema when inflation is considered, although such figures are not known with certainty.[9]
In 2005, Indiatimes ranked the movie amongst the "Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films".[10] That same year, the judges of the 50th annual Filmfare Awards gave it a special award called Best Film of 50 Years. The film topped the British Film Institute's poll of "Top 10 Indian Films" of all time.[11]



The small village of Ramgarh is home to ex-policeman Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar). The movie begins with Thakur summoning an old colleague and requesting him to track down a pair of small-time thieves he once apprehended in the line of duty. Though the two petty criminals Veeru (Dharmendra) and Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) are notorious, Thakur feels that they would be the ideal men to help him end the tyranny of Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan), an infamous dacoit (bandit) wanted by the authorities for a Rs 50,000 reward. After scenes showing how the three fought together during a train robbery attempt, and how the criminals often get in and out of jail, Veeru and Jai are found and brought to Ramgarh. They are told by Thakur that they are to bring Gabbar to him alive for Rs 20,000, plus the Rs 50,000 reward.
Three of Gabbar's enforcers arrive in Ramgarh to collect supplies from the defenseless villagers, but they go back empty-handed due to Veeru and Jai's intervention. In Gabbar's camp, the tyrant interrogates the three about why they were defeated by only two men. His psychotic nature is shown when he subjects his men to a twisted version of Russian roulette, but eventually shoots the three men dead.
Gabbar attacks Ramgarh on Holi, and in a tough battle, Veeru and Jai meet their match and are held at gunpoint. With his two recruits facing death, Thakur has a chance to throw a gun to Veeru. Instead of helping, Thakur simply stands watching. With quick thinking, Veeru and Jai manage to save their lives. They then state their intentions to leave the villagers to defend themselves, due to Thakur's cowardice. Before they can leave, Thakur tells them the real reason of why he wants Gabbar, and why he could not help them. Some time ago, Thakur had caught Gabbar and had him imprisoned only for him to escape and plot an evil revenge. Gabbar made his way to Thakur's home and killed most of his family. The only person to survive this massacre was Thakur's younger daughter-in-law, Radha (Jaya Bhaduri). Thakur tracked down Gabbar, but this time the tyrant held the upper hand thanks to his gang, and cut off both of Thakur's arms. Thakur had hidden this disability from Veeru and Jai, but now it was clear why he could not physically help them.
Living in Ramgarh, the cynical young Jai and lively Veeru find themselves growing fond of the villagers, especially two girls. Veeru is attracted to Basanti (Hema Malini), a feisty, talkative young woman who makes her living driving a horse-cart. Jai is drawn to Radha, Thakur's reclusive widowed daughter-in-law, who very subtly returns his affections.
The battle approaches its climax when Basanti and Veeru are captured and Jai follows. The three escape, but Jai is wounded by a gunshot, and with the bandits still following, they run short on ammunition. As Veeru is unaware of Jai's wound, Jai orders him to go back to the village with Basanti, and then return with some ammunition. Jai, slowly dying and with only a few bullets, manages to fend off advances by the bandits, and takes out most of Gabbar's men. Veeru returns to find Jai dying, and sadly talks with him before he dies. Some of the villagers rush to the scene, including Radha, who once again must endure the anguish of losing someone.
Veeru goes after Gabbar in a rage. He catches Gabbar and beats him badly, when Thakur appears and reminds him of the promise to catch Gabbar alive. Thakur reveals spike-soled shoes, made to make Gabbar beg for a quick death. Gabbar is kicked around by Thakur but is saved in the nick of time by the police, who tell Thakur that Gabbar must be arrested and dealt with by the law. As Gabbar is taken away, Thakur is denied vengeance, but knows that Ramgarh is free once again.
In the alternate ending to the film, Gabbar actually dies as he is kicked into a spike that is protruding from the posts where Thakur's arms were cut off. Thakur then falls to his knees and is comforted by Veeru. Thakur then begins to cry which he did not do even when his family was killed.[12][13]


  • Dharmendra as Veeru, the more jovial and naughty of the two friends
  • Amitabh Bachchan as Jai, the calmer and more thoughtful of the two
  • Sanjeev Kumar as Thakur Baldev Singh, usually addressed as "Thakur Sahib"
  • Hema Malini as Basanti, a talkative girl who is the coachman for the only horse-carriage in Ramgarh
  • Jaya Bhaduri as Radha, a quiet girl who is the Thakur's widowed daughter-in-law
  • Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh, a dacoit, who leads a group in looting and plundering the villages in the region of Ramgarh. He has a sadistic personality and insists on killing whenever required to continue his status and to take revenge on his enemies.

A rare photograph on location, of the main male leads. (Left to right) - Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan.
Source: Bollywood Hungama[14]

Production credits

Source: Bollywood Hungama[14]



Sholay began as a four line idea that Salim-Javed pitched to Ramesh Sippy.[3] Sippy liked the concept and hired them to develop it. The original idea was simple. An army officer decides to hire two ex-soldiers to avenge the murder of his family. The officer was later changed to a policeman as Sippy felt it would be too difficult to get permission to film from the army. They completed the script in only one month, borrowing many character names and personalities from their friends and acquaintances.[15]
The movie drew heavily from the conventions of Western films, especially Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, such as Once Upon a Time in the West, and John Sturges' film The Magnificent Seven, itself being a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 film, Seven Samurai.[6][16] Sholay was also influenced by the westerns of Sam Peckinpah, such as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973); and also by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).[17] Some plot elements were also borrowed from the Indian films Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Khote Sikkay.[18]
The character of Gabbar Singh was modeled on a real-life dacoit of the same name who menaced the villages around Gwalior in the 1950s. He terrorized the local police. Any policeman captured by the real Gabbar Singh had his ears and nose cut off, and was then released as an object lesson to other policemen.[19]

Casting Sholay: The Making of a Classic (Hardcover)

Sippy at first wanted Shatrughan Sinha to play the part of Jai, but Amitabh Bachchan lobbied hard to get the part for himself.[3] The producers wanted Danny Denzongpa to play the bandit chief, but he was committed to Feroz Khan's Dharmatma.[20] Amjad Khan was a second choice. Khan prepared to play the bandit chief Gabbar Singh by reading a book titled Abar Abhishapta Chambal,[21] which told of the exploits of Chambal dacoits. The book was written by Taroon Kumar Bhaduri, the father of Jaya Bhaduri.[22]
During the film's production, four of the leads became romantically involved.[16] Bachchan married Jaya Bhaduri four months before filming started. This caused problems when shooting had to be postponed because Jaya became pregnant with her daughter Shweta Bachchan. Dharmendra had begun wooing Hema Malini during their earlier film Seeta Aur Geeta and used the location shoot of Sholay to further pursue her. During their romantic scenes, Dharmendra would pay the light boys to spoil the shot, thereby ensuring many retakes. The couple eventually married in 1980, five years after the film's release.[23]


The film was a lavish production for its time. It took two and a half years to make, and went Rs. 300,000 over budget. One reason for its high cost was that Ramesh Sippy re-filmed scenes many times to get his desired effect. The "Yeh dosti" sequence took 21 days to shoot while two short scenes where Radha is lighting lamps took 20 days due to lighting problems. Another shoot for the scene in which Gabbar kills the son of the Imam lasted 19 days.[24] The train robbery sequence, shot on the Mumbai-Pune railway route near Panvel, took more than 7 weeks to shoot.[25]
Much of the film is set in the rocky terrain of Ramanagaram, a village near Bangalore, Karnataka. The filmmakers had to build a road from the Bangalore highway to Ramanagaram for convenient access to the sets. One part of Ramanagaram town was renamed "Sippynagar" after the director of the movie. Even to this day, a visit to the "Sholay rocks" (where the movie was shot) is offered to tourists traveling through Ramanagaram (on the road between Bangalore and Mysore), and plans are being made to build a resort in the area.[26]
Sholay was the first Indian movie to have a stereophonic soundtrack, and to be presented in the 70 mm widescreen format.[8] However, since actual 70mm cameras were deemed too expensive at the time, the movie instead was shot on traditional 35mm film and the 4:3 picture was subsequently blown up, cropped and matted to a 2.20:1 frame.[13] Director Ramesh Sippy said,
A 70mm format takes the awe of the big screen and magnifies it even more to make the picture even bigger, but since I also wanted a spread of sound we used six-track stereophonic sound and combined it with the big screen. It was definitely a differentiator.[27]

Alternate versions

An alternate director's cut of Sholay, where Gabbar Singh dies at the end, was not shown in theaters but was later released on video. Also there are some additional scenes with some different dialogues. Gabbar's death scene, and the scene in which the imam's son is killed were cut from the film by the Censor Board, as was the scene in which Thakur's family is killed.[24] The reason is that the censors claimed there are rules about people taking the law into their own hands and not being punished for it; this was not permitted as it may corrupt naive viewers. For this reason the ending of the film had to be re-shot for a 'U' Rating."[12][28]
The censored theatrical version was 188 minutes long, and was the only one seen by audiences for fifteen years after 1975. The original, unedited cut of the film finally saw the light of day in 1990 on a British VHS release.[13] Since then, Eros Labs has released two versions on DVD. The so-called "director's cut" of the film, from Eros/B4U, preserves the full frame as shot, and is 204 minutes in length. The widescreen version, from DEI/Eros is 198 minutes long.[29] The DVD packaging does not always state clearly which version is inside.[13]


Critical response

The critic K.L. Amladi of India Today called the film a "dead ember" and added, "Thematically, it's a gravely flawed attempt."[30] Filmfare said that the film was an unsuccessful mincing of Western style with Indian milieu, making it a "imitation western—neither here nor there."[30] Trade journals and columnists initially called the expensive film a flop.[30]
Over time the critical reception to Sholay has improved to where it is now regarded among the greatest Hindi language films, and a classic.[16][31] On the film's 35th anniversary, the Hindustan Times said that it was a "trailblazer in terms of camera work as well as music," and that "practically every scene, dialogue or even a small character was a highlight."[5] In 2006, The Film Society of Lincoln Center described it as "an extraordinary and utterly seamless blend of adventure, comedy, music and dance", labeling it an 'indisputable classic'.[2] In the obituary of the producer, The New York Times said that Sholay "revolutionized Hindi filmmaking and brought true professionalism to Indian script writing".[6]

Box office

Sholay was released on 15 August 1975 in Mumbai. Due to lackluster reviews and a lack of effective visual marketing tools, the first two weeks it didn't do well, but it picked up from the third week onwards on word of mouth, and became a sensation.[8]
During the earlier period when the film was not doing well commercially, the director and writer considered re-shooting some scenes so that Amitabh Bachchan's character would not die. When business finally picked up, they abandoned this idea.[32] Sholay went on to earn a still-standing record of 60 golden jubilees (50 consecutive weeks) across India.[7] It was the first film in the history of Indian cinema to celebrate a silver jubilee (25 consecutive weeks) at over a hundred theaters across India.[8] At Mumbai's Minerva theater, it was shown continuously for over five years.[6] Sholay was the longest running film in Indian cinema until Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge broke its record in 2001.[33]
Sholay earned about Rs. 15 crore rupees in its first run, equivalent to over US$ 3 million, which was many times its Rs. 2 crore budget.[7] That amount of earnings was a record that remained unbroken for the next nineteen years, which is a record for the longest time having held the record. It doubled its original gross over reruns during the late 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s.[7]
Official box office records are not kept in India, but it is often cited that after adjusting the figures for inflation, Sholay is the highest grossing movie in the history of Indian Cinema.[7][9] Other sources place the adjusted figure lower, but still put it near the top of the highest grossing Bollywood films.[34]


When it was first released, Sholay was nominated for several Filmfare Awards[35] but only won a single one: film editor M. S. Shinde won for Best Editing. He had edited 300,000 feet of film into 20,000 feet of theatrical release.[36] After the censors mandated cuts, the film was 18,000 feet and ran for 3 hours and 20 minutes. Although the film did not receive any of the major awards when it was released, at the 50th Filmfare Awards it received a special award as the Best Film of 50 Years.[37]
It also won the following at the Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards (Hindi section):[38]
  • Best Actor in Supporting Role – Amjad Khan
  • Best Cinematographer (Colour) – Dwarka Divecha
  • Best Art Director – Ram Yedekar
Sholay has received more honors in the years that followed. It was declared "Film of the Millennium" by BBC India and in internet polls in 1999,[6][39] and in 2002 topped the British Film Institute's poll of "Top 10 Indian Films" of all time.[40] In 2006, Sholay was voted best film in Iran.[41]


Soundtrack album by R. D. Burman
Released 1975 (1975)
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 28:59
Label Universal Music India Pvt. Ltd.
R. D. Burman composed the music for the film, and the lyrics were given by Anand Bakshi. It is revered as one of the best Hindi soundtracks.[42][43] Burman himself sang "Mehbooba Mehbooba", picturised on Helen and Jalal Agha, and for which he received his sole Filmfare Award nomination for playback singing. The songs picturized in the film were the following:
# Song Singer(s) Duration
1 "Sholay" (title music) Rahul Dev Burman 02:46
2 "Yeh Dosti" Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey 05:21
3 "Haa Jab Tak Hai Jaan" Lata Mangeshkar 05:26
4 "Koi Haseena" Kishore Kumar and Hema Malini 04:00
5 "Holi Ke Din" Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar 05:42
6 "Mehbooba Mehbooba" Rahul Dev Burman 03:54
7 "Yeh Dosti" (sad) Kishore Kumar 01:49
Despite the soundtrack's success, at the time, the songs from Sholay attracted less attention than the dialogues — a rarity for Bollywood. This prompted the producers to release audio-cassettes with only dialogues.[44][45]
Among the songs, two versions of "Yeh Dosti" were released, an extended version which was cited as the 'happy version' and a shorter one called the 'sad version'. "Yeh Dosti" has been called the perfect friendship song.[43] This song was remixed in the 2010 Malayalam film Four Friends.
The song "Mehbooba Mehbooba", performed and composed by Burman, is often featured on Bollywood hit song compilations.[46] The song has been highly anthologized, remixed, and recreated.[47] A notable recent version is one created by the Kronos Quartet for their Grammy-nominated album You've Stolen My Heart.[48] However, "Mehbooba Mehbooba" was copied from Demis Roussos's song, called "Say You Love Me".[49]

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