Here’s a still from the Hindi blockbuster Sholay.
Originally released in 1975, the film beacame so popular that some cinemas ran it for years. It remains the most successful Hindi movie of all time. I’ve got the DVD – it’s great.
The plot is relatively straightforward. Small-time criminals Veeru and Jai (played by Dharmendra and living legend Mr Amitabh Bachchan, respectively) are employed by ex-policeman Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) to apprehend notorious bandit Gabbar Singh (the excellent Amjad Khan) whose gang has been terrorising the village of Ramgad. There are a couple of twists along the way to keep things lively, but essentially it’s a struggle between good and evil.
The heroes really are heroic. The bad guy really is nasty – in one memorable scene, wiping out the Thakur’s entire family as an act of revenge. In another, he forces Basanti (Hema Malini) to dance on broken glass to save Veeru’s life.
And – importantly for a Bollywood film – the songs are great. Combine all this with action, humour, pathos and romance and you’ve got a winning formula. Certainly, if you spent your hard-earned rupees on seeing this at the cinema you’d definitely walk out having got your money’s worth.
The film owes debt to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns – leading to it being described as a ‘curry western’. Very clever. The landscape (near Bangalore) even looks like the wild west. Of course, a remake is in the pipeline. Sounds like a shameless cash-in to me. But if I’m in the country at the time, I’ll go see it all the same. Bah.