pm, Sunday, November 12th, Roxie Cinema, San Francisco
Director: Ramesh Sippy
Country: India (1976)
Running Time: 204min, 35mm
Hindi with English Subtitles
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Sholay is back! Bigger and better than ever with the director's original footage restored and a newly struck print timed for the re-release of the 30th anniversary of this classic "curry" western. Sholay was the cinematic breakout bombshell of Indian cinema with its technological virtuosity and cinematic innovations, running for six years solid and obtaining cult-like status.
Ostensibly a straight story of a retired & revengeful lawman who hires two petty crooks (Amitbabh Bachchan In a role that catapulted him to stardom over the then famous Dharmendra) to capture the quintessential baddie and all the repercussions that action causes. Sholay stands alone as an icon of film entertainment while delivering on all points the classic western themes: friendship & loyalty; revenge; a family massacre; one of the most exciting train robbery sequences ever filmed; two bad boys with hearts of gold taking on a whole band of marauders to save a village; the comic and poignant side characters (the Hitler a la Chaplin jail warden is wonderfully over the top) and of course chilling cruelty and tragedy (present in both Bollywood and cowboy mythology).
With the acknowledged homage to Kurasawa (Seven Samurai), Leone's spaghetti western (Once Upon a Time in the West), American cowboy movies like Sturges' Magnificent Seven, Peckinpah's Wild Bunch, Sippy manages to put his imprimatur on the cowboy western reworking the classic Bollywood elements. Bachchan exemplifies the lonesome, laconic long-drink-of-water cowboy anti-hero with his ironic repartee, his lonely harmonica riffs and silent worship of the equally lonely widow (Jaya Bhaduri). Dharmendra gives us his raffish charm as he courts Hema Malini, the tonga driver with a tongue that goes as fast as her cart. Amjad Khan moved from character actor to star status with his portrayal of the psychopathic outlaw leader (for years parents used the threat of a visit from Gabbar Singh to cajole their children into behaving).
Sholay captured the hearts of millions of Indians - every scene has become a classic -- with its humor, charm (especially of the two heroes), action scenes and the infectious musical numbers. For those who've already seen & loved it, no amount of subsequent viewings will diminish the enjoyment, and for those who haven't and/or love the classic cowboy movie, it's an excellent example of Bollywood at its best: Sholay is a must see.
Love Sholay? This is your night! Come dressed in your favorite retro-Sholay attire!
Introduction by Professor Sudipto Chatterjee of UC Berkeley