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Sholay: For changing Hindi cinema forever

'Its effect on our collective psyche can no longer be explained in logical terms'

August 18, 2008

Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na director, Abbas Tyrewala on the masterpiece.

When we talk of Bollywood, the first thing that come to mind is Ramesh Sippy's all time classic Sholay.

It is common belief in Bollywood that for a film to work, it should have at least one of these ingredients: A great story, script, sharp direction, a stellar star cast, superb dialogue, good music, effortless comedy, effective tragedy, grand production values, and an entertaining exploration of values and morals. Sholay is perhaps the only Indian film to exemplify all of these together in one, three-and-a-half-hour film

Sholay is a cult film. It has set a gold standard for every department of filmmaking. It's sheer watchable -- even when you know every dialogue and every expression before it occurs. The thrill of the first guitar notes kicking in as the jailor starts riding his horse towards Thakursaab's house -- all of these have an effect on our collective psyche that can no longer be explained in logical terms.

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Sholay is akin to a filmmaker explaining why the audience will like his film before they've liked it. Some questions are best answered by time though. Therefore directors, whether new or experienced, always seem to take inspiration from Sholay.

It will be difficult for me to say how many times I have seen Sholay. There are certain things in life that you don't keep count of like 'How many times have I been to Olive* to party? How many times have I gone to Goa? How many times have I been to Pop Tate**'s for dinner?' And one such thing is Sholay.

My favourite scene in Sholay is Radha's entry in the film, where she flings the keys towards Jai and Veeru as they attempt to burgle thakursaab's safe. The concept and dialogue have a quality that very few have. It's truly unexpected, and once you've seen it, you realise it couldn't be any other way. That was just perfect.

Video: Special thanks to Sascha Sippy and Shaan Uttamsigh for Sholay Media & Entertainment Private Limited.

Abbas Tyrewala, one of Bollywood's most exciting talents, has also written the scripts for Maqbool, Main Hoon Na and Munabbhai MBBS. He sent this e-mailed response to Patcy N.

Also read: Why Sholay is a cult classic | Abbas Tyrewala on what being an Indian means
* Olive is a well-known Mediterranean restaurant located in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru. ** Pop Tate's is a restaurant frequented by young people in Mumbai.

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