Sholay, an Indian film of nearly three hours run time, was released in 1975. The language of this film was Hindi. This film had surprised everyone because of its unprecedented crowd-pulling capacity. This film was shown for 286 weeks at a stretch in the Minerva theater of Mumbai.
Sholay is a film of magnified emotions and its story has enough of melodrama. This film will take you to a world of terror and violence, love and romance and failure and success. There is plenty of melodious music and occasional comic relief. And all these have been presented in a very high pitch. The final victory of good over evil has finally been instrumental to the unbelievable popularity of this movie. Its genre reminds us Sergei Leone’s ‘Spaghetti Westerns’. The rugged and barren landscape of Ramanagaram near Bangalore in the Karnataka state of southern India, unpredictable and hellish terror of a bandit, determined fight of one former police officer, villagers of some colorful region and the technological brilliance in cinematography acquired by the Bollywood just then — have contributed in uneven proportion to build up the chemistry of its success.
Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) finds services from two jailbirds (Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan) for an operation against a formidable bandit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan). Gabbar Singh is a dreaded plunderer and he is a frequenter to the remote villages with this motive. The jailbirds finally defeat the bandit and the security forces take him to custody. The story has interesting meanderings at different points. In an utterly terrorized human settlement love still larks and Basanti (Hema Malini), a garrulous village girl, is tagged to Dharmandra when Radha (Joya Bhaduri), a lone widow in the Thakur Baldev Singh’s family, receives the signal of love from Amitabh Bachchan. The story ends once and before the curtain is finally drawn the sacrifice of life by Amitabh Bachchan leaves a lasting mark in the viewers’ mind.
Traditionally people of India are tied to their families and relation among different members in a family is very important to them and this relation is private. Sholay is a departure from this point of consideration. In this film relations are very loose and there are reasons to disbelieve highest grossing indian movies the entire story. Basanti is a village girl and she earns. A village girl of her stature may be traced in imagination only. She possesses urban glamour and she does never appear like a girl of any remote village. Her introduction with one of the jailbirds is sudden and her relation with him has been developed artificially.
Again, the brutality captured in the celluloid is utterly frightening and condemnable. Still it appears that the film-maker has created an environment of festival. We have noticed that the Indian people have enjoyed this film. It is really astonishing how a bandit of the stature of Gabbar Singh has been accepted and adored as a popular icon. His dialogues in the film are recited by number of cinema-goers even now. If this is an achievement of an Indian film-maker, the sociologists should study how the peace-loving and non-violent people of India have changed their highly nourished mental set up within a very short period.