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"Sholay" - A Fact File on the Cult Classic

Sholay was released on 15 August 1975 in the Bombay region. It was first 70 mm movie with stereophonic sound.

Within few days of its release the expensive film was called a flop. Almost every critic and trade magazine said “Sholay” was a great and costly mistake made. India Today, Filmfare, Film Trade Magazine and many more had the same opinion about the movie.

“Sholay” was just about to be removed from cinemas because of low attendance figures, but suddenly after a few days attendance started rising with word-of-mouth and there were long queues seen at the advance booking windows.

Actually it can be said that the film in 70 mm was so Grand in its look & style that it took time for the viewers to grasp it. And then “Sholay” went on to make history forever.

This was the first film in the history of Indian cinema to celebrate a silver-jubilee (25-week) in its initial release at over 100 cinemas across India.
There was a rumor that many Black Marketers bought new Flats and Taxis from their earnings due to the grand success of the movie.

Innovative Act By The Music Company

Even when the film was being called a huge success, somehow the music was not selling.

Polydor worked on the reason for this and found that the dialogues of the movie had such a strong impact on the viewer that they were hardly remembering the songs. People could be seen repeating the dialogues of the movie in as well as out of the theaters.

Keeping that in mind, for the first time ever Polydor released different dialogues EPs with different titles. Mainly “Veeru Ki Sagai”, “Soorma Bhopali”, “Hamein Jail Jaana Hai”, “Gabbar Singh” and more which were an instant success. Till date the dialogues of the movie are in regular circulation in the market.

The Deleted Scenes & Songs

Initially a song called “Chand Sa Koi Chehra” was recorded which is a qawwali, but the song was dropped from the movie owing to the length of the movie. One of the singers of the song was the lyricist Anand Bakshi while the others were Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar and Bhupendra.

A Dhaba Sequence was there featuring Veeru & Jai eating at the Dhaba owned by Maruti (a well known comedian of those years). The scene included Veeru & Jai eating, doing gargles and then spitting over.

Another scene included Jai & Veeru stealing motorcycle from a Parsi Gentlemen. Probably it was to be added before the song “Yeh Dosti”.

Sachin’s death scene also couldn’t make to the final version.

The Two Endings (Climax Versions)

In the original ending, Thakur killed Gabbar. The Indian Censor Board did not agree with the ending, saying that its like ignoring the law and this could adversely influence the young minds. So, a new ending was created that showed the police running in at the last moment, arresting Gabbar, and specifically telling the Thakur that only the law has the right to punish criminals. The original ending was restored in the 204-minute director’s cut. (which can be seen in some versions of DVDs available in the market).

Awards Won

When it was first released, Sholay won only one Filmfare award: Film editor M. S. Shinde won for Best editing. After the censor’s instructed cuts, the film was 18,000 feet and ran for 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Nevertheless, at the 50th Filmfare Awards, it received the prestigious award as the Best Film of 50 Years. Ramesh Sippy was there to receive the trophy.

It was declared “Film of the Millennium” by BBC India and internet polls in 1999.

More Amusing Facts

“Gabbar Singh” character was so famous that Britannia Biscuits made a commercial with Amjad Khan eating Biscuits. This was the first time that a villain character was used by a company to publicise its products. The advertisement was an instant hit in children and the sales doubled.

Hooked up by his character of “Soorma Bhopali”, years later Jagdeep himself made a film with the title “Soorma Bhopali” in 1988.

Viju Khote was renamed “Kaalia” forever after this movie.

Till date Asrani has to speak, “Hum Angrezon Ke Zamaane Ke Jailor” in his every TV and Stage Appearance.

Macmohan was so disturbed that his all scenes were deleted from the movie. But he may still wonder how only one scene and few words can be popular all over the world even after so many years. For a long time filmmakers kept using the name “Samba” in their films to gain popularity.

Many years later, Recently Amitabh thanked Dharmendera on the stage of a prestigious award function for recommending him to Ramesh Sippy for casting in Sholay.

If you love this CLASSIC and still wish it to see it again after so many years then you must read a highly entertaining book by Anupama Chopra, “Sholay and its making” released by Penguin Books.
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