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Monday, 3 May 2010

10 things that are better than voting Conservative: Watching Sholay

Next in the list of 10 things that are better than voting Conservative, and darned more pleasurable than the previous entry is:

2. Watching Sholay

I met Amitabh Bachchan at Bangalore Racecourse once - he's the most famous person I have ever met and a Film Star in the way that Tom Cruise or George Clooney aren't. That might not be a good thing though. Bachchan starred in Sholay, the 1975 movie that set new heights in Indian film-making, was shown for over 5 years in Mumbai, whose characters and lines still influence Indian film today.

Sholay was promiscuously influenced by the Seven Samurai, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, spaghetti westerns, the Aristocats, the Jungle Book and Monty Python. The plot is as convuluted as any Indian film, but at the same time a straightforward fight between good and evil, urban and rural, modern and traditional, secular and religious, man and woman, love and duty, where there's something to keep everybody happy but the forces of conservatism are ultimately left unmoved due to a few convenient deaths and misfortunes along the way.

The making of the film reads like an Indian soap opera. Dharmendra ( who played the thief Veeru) fancied Hema ( who played Basanti, the talkative tonga driver), so paid the lighting boys 100 rupees a time to mess the shot up. If Dharmendra wanted the shot to be good, he'd touch his nose, if he wanted more time with Hema, he pulled his ear and the scene would be flooded with light or the trolley go off the rails..

The armless policeman  was named Thakur by the scriptwriter Salim(who was Muslim) after his father-in-law (who was Hindu) - who didn't talk to Salim for seven years after he married his daughter against his wishes.

And the bad guy? The bad guy was Gabbar Singh (pictured above), so evil and sadistic that he kills small boys for fun. A great villain!

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