A movie called Sholay

©2013 Nim Gholkar All Rights Reserved

It is confession time ! I saw ‘Sholay’ for the first time only about a year ago.

Let me pause while all readers have a mini convulsion and gasp with disbelief.

Someone, somewhere once told me ‘ A true Indian must know the national anthem from start to finish and…..must have watched Sholay at least a dozen times’. Please note the emphasis on ‘AT LEAST’. Now, while I can sing ‘Jana Gana Mana‘ with as much gusto as the next person, I did stumble at the ‘Sholay’ hurdle. There is no particular reason for this. It is just one of those inexplicable things. For years, I had heard of this amazing movie that revolutionised Hindi cinema beyond recognition. People would recite entire sections of dialogue without missing a word. ‘Tera Kya Hoga, Kaaliya?’…’Kitney aadmi the?’…..’Tumhara Naam Kya Hai Basanti’…etc etc. I did not have the foggiest idea what people were going on about when they discussed names like Jay, Veeru, Basanti. ‘Much ado about nothing’ was how I flippantly dismissed it.

Over time, I became curious. An entire nation was obsessed with this movie. Logic dictated it would be worth watching. The years, however, rolled on, and Sholay continued to hover somewhere at the bottom of my ‘To-Do List’.

A funny thing happened about a year ago. This incident convinced me ,without doubt, that I must indeed watch Sholay without delay.

My family and I had been invited to a dinner party. About fifteen families of Indian heritage made up the guest list. The host had organised games such as ‘dumb charades’, ‘antakshari’ and ‘bingo’ which were followed by a scrumptious three course dinner. Finally the mood of the party turned pensive and mellow. Someone began singing Jagjit Singh’s ‘Hum to hain Pares mein, des mein nikla hoga chaand‘. Each one of us had been living out of India for over seventeen years. The song touched a chord in every heart. Nostalgia lingered in the air.

We began discussing India in earnest. Cricket, politics, traffic, pollution, conversion rate of dollar to rupee etc etc.

Finally, there was a lull in the conversation. I leaned forward. ‘Hey, guess what?’ I said.

All eyes turned to look at me. ‘What?’ someone called out.

‘ I still haven’t see the Taj Mahal’

There was a murmur and I heard polite but indifferent comments like ‘You must see it some day’ and ‘It is beautiful. You should visit it next time you fly to India’

Another silence. I leaned forward again.

‘Oh, and guess what?’ I repeated.

‘What?’ someone called out again.

‘I still haven’t seen Sholay’

This time the gasps were so loud, I thought the entire group was having a mass heart attack. There was horror etched on every face. Jaws dropped, eyes rolled and some even held their palms against their hearts as though preventing seizures.

‘WHAT?’ I heard them roar. ‘NOT SEEN SHOLAY????????’

To say I was taken aback would be an understatement. I could not understand what all the fuss was about. Only a few seconds ago, I had mentioned never having seen the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, and no one had blinked an eyelid. Yet, when I said the same about Sholay, it was as though a worse horror could not be imagined.

I went home that night and vowed to watch it the very next day.

Thirty six years after it was first made, I finally watched Jay, Veeru, Basanti and Radha. Oh, and Gabbar of course.

I can see why it made cinematic history……this movie called ‘Sholay’

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