were completely transplanted onto ‘Sholay’. The soundscape, with the trademark goose-pimply keening, was very Sergio Leone-sque. Village Ramgarh looked as if it was fashioned like a Hollywood western outpost. But the way director Ramesh Sippy, writers Salim-Javed, cinematographer Dwarka Diwecha, and music director R D Burman crafted this film, those couple of imitative scenes were so beautifully knit into the fabric of the film that you felt they were always part of it. Real-life dacoits in their dhoti-kurtas, post 1975, must have cursed Gabbar for forever stamping his wardrobe imprint on them, as well as wondering where they could find a campfire and item queen Helen and the very colourful Jalal Agha whooping it up to Mehbooba, Mehbooba.
‘Ooo, ooo, ooo’. `Kitnay Aadmi Thay’? `Poore pachaas hajaar, sarkaar’. `Tumhara naam kya hai, Basanti’? `Yun toh hamein zyaada baat karne ki aadat nahin hai’. `Budhiya jail mein chakki peesing and peesing’. `Itna sannaata kyon hai, bhai’? The dialogues, and there are so many more, are iconic, and have seeped into our pop culture. The mournful mouth-organ tune and the growing, silent smoulder between Amitabh and Jaya, the more earthy equation between Dharmendra and Hema, the camaraderie between the two denim-clad male leads, and how well they horsed ( we saw more of it many more films, especially ‘Chupke Chupke’), the tragic backstory of the `thakur’, and all the gun play which still has the power to thrill, nearly 40 years later.
I found bits of the long jail sequence dull, like I had before, and a flashback involving Jaya wisely taken out at the time it first released, made me wince this time around. But only for that moment, because I was caught up with the rest again, and enthralled all over again. It feels surprisingly undated, and fresh.
You can divide Hindi cinema into two eras, pre-and-post ‘Sholay’. It is a landmark. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.