In 1954, Akira Kurosawa brought us Seven Samurai, the story of a downtrodden warrior who, together with six other samurai, answers a village's request for protection from bandits.
In 1960, Hollywood released Magnificent Seven, the story of a Mexican village that hires seven American gunslingers to free them from the bandit Calvera and his raids.
And in 1975, Bollywood released Sholay (“Embers”), the story of a former police officer who enlists the services of two outlaws to capture a notorious and ruthless bandit.
The action-adventure film Sholay changed the face of the Indian film industry. It took a page out of Indian history, created a modern story with a western twist, and perfectly mixed a variety of genres in one action-packed "masala" film. Considered by many to one of the top 10 Bollywood films of all time, the film had everything - love, humor, fights, gun battles, music, heartbreak, horses, trains, villagers, revenge and a villain beyond compare.
While cinematography and action sequence film techniques have improved over the years, this story of friendship, love and revenge still has a modern feel about it which continues to capture the hearts and minds of generations of viewers.
On the anniversary of this award-winning cinematic treat, here’s a look at some of the characters that stole our hearts in the blockbuster film Sholay.
Veeru and Jai
Best friends from the start, the bromance between Veeru and Jai is the soul of Sholay and the stuff of legend.
A criminal with a heart of gold, Veeru (Dharmendra) finds the fun in everything he does. He is an optimist and a prankster. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he is loyal and trustworthy when he gives his word. Happy to embrace life and all it has to offer, he will happily drink anyone under the table, wears his heart on his sleeve and can be quite a drama queen.
Veeru: "I am only doing what Majnu did for Laila, Ranjha did for Heer, Romeo for Juliet… SOOSIDE" ("Wohi kar raha hoon bhaiya jo Majnu ne Laila ke liye kiya tha, Ranjha ne Heer ke liye tha, Romeo ne Juliet ke liye tha… SOOSIDE")
When Veeru finds himself in trouble, his best friend and accomplice Jai finds a way to rescue him.
Veeru's partner in crime, Jaidev (Amitabh Bachchan) is no-nonsense and sees things for what they are. He is a practical man but can be both a participant in and a foil to Veeru’s pranks. When Veeru begins flirting with Basanti, Jai gently helps Basanti see his friend for who he truly is.
Jai is the brains of this dynamic duo - yet he seems to let fate have a hand in his and Veeru's plans by flipping a coin when a major decision is needed. Jai's intelligence also gives him courage. When confronted by the bandit Gabbar Singh for the first time, Jai doesn’t back down. His bravery and strength of character inspires Veeru - and saves his life.
Thakur Baldev Singh
The darkly enigmatic Thakur (Sanjeev Kumar) is a retired police officer who has one goal in mind - to catch the bandit Gabbar Singh. When you learn his devastating backstory, you understand why this law enforcer has stepped outside of the law to get justice.
Beautiful and talkative Basanti (Hema Malini) is a feisty chatterbox who earns her living as the village tanga carriage driver pulled by her trusty steed Dhanno. For Veeru, it is love at first sight. When Veeru is captured by the local bandits, she tries to save his life.
A dangerous and unpredictable bandit, Gabbar (Amjad Khan) leads a group of men who loot and plunder the villages in the region of Ramgarh. With a bounty on his head, Gabbar instills fear in everyone. He fuels this fear by targeting and punishing anyone who gets in his way. Despite this, Thakur will never stopped pursuing Gabbar, and Gabbar seems to enjoy playing this game.
A woman of few words, Radha (Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan) is the daughter-in-law of Thakur. A vivacious, fun-loving youth woman, she lost her spirit when she became a widow. Having survived Gabbar's reign of terror, she feels Thakur's desire to capture the bandit is a fool's errand. Jai is drawn to her and, with Thakur's permission, plans to marry her.
In fact, actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhadhuri were married a few months before shooting began on Sholay. By the time the first scene of the film was shot - when Jai returns the keys to Thakur's safe to Radha - Jaya was three months pregnant. Their son, actor Abhishek Bachchan, likes to remind people that he went to the premiere of Sholay in his mother's stomach.
A small, but memorable role is that of the blind village imam, Rahim Chacha (A. K. Hangal). This holy man uses the tragic loss of his son to remind the villagers that they have a responsibility to do the right thing.
If you are new to Bollywood, check out Sholay. To give you a taste of what this film has to offer, watch the following trailer created to showcase the release of a 3D remastered version of Sholay in 2014. While there is no HD version of the film currently available on DVD or Blu ray, fans earnestly hope that the studios will release such a version sometime in the near future.
Tweets Celebrating 40 Years of SHOLAY
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