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Sholay 1975

G.P Sippy, never a man to take a beating lying down, went into action. He organized a high-level meeting. Attending on G.P's terrace were Rajni Patel, a noted lawer and a close confidant of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and V.C Shukla, minister for Information and Broadcasting, who was also the chief guest at the premiere. Shukla simply called Delhi and blasted into the bureaucrat: 'What are you trying to do? Tell them to release the prints now.' The bureaucrat, taken aback by the reach of the Sippy's, mumbled a quick 'Yes sir.' But he managed to delay the prints by a few more hours. By the evening they still hadn't reached the theatre, so 'Sholay's premiere audience saw a 35mm print.

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Sholay 1975

Through the screening; there was little reaction. The audience seemed unmoved. There was no laughter, no tears, no applause. Just silence. 'It was very scary,' recalls Geeta (Sippy). In the stalls sat Prakash Mehra, who had once been one of the contenders for the four-line story. 'Maine yeh kahani kyun cchod di? he asked himself aloud. After the film, as the audience streamed out of the hall, Pancham, who had been sitting next to Mehra, whispered to him: 'Log to gaaliyan de rahen hain.' 'Don't worry,' Prakash replied, 'this film is a hit. No one can stop it.'

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Sholay 1975

The morning-after-the premiere grapevine dripped poison. The film was dubbed 'Chholey', and the main cast, 'Teen maharathi aur ek chooha (Three warriors and a mouse)'. Everything was wrong with the film. Why would women and family audiences want to see so much gore? The friendship was in such bad taste. Amjad had no presence, and no voice... 'Hindustaniyon ko aisi picturein nahin achhi lagti hain (Indians don't like films like this),' pronounced a prominent industry figure. The critics agreed. Taking off on the title of the film, K.L Amladi writing in 'India Today' called it a 'dead ember'. Thematically, its a gravely flawed attempt,' he wrote. Filmfare's Bikram Singh wrote: 'The major trouble with the film is the unsuccessful transplantation it attempts- grafting a western on the Indian milieu. The film remains imitation western-neither here nor there.' The trade magazines weren't gushing either. 'The classes and families will find no reason for a repeat show,' said 'Film Information.'
'Trade Guide' called it a milestone but qualified the praise with a negative comparison with 'Deewar' Now it was upto the audience. On 15 August 1975, 'Sholay' was released in the Bombay territory with forty prints.
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Sholay 1975

Dispite the notorious Mumbai ki barish which was coming sown in torrents, the crowds turned up; in fact, many people had started queuing up outside the theatres the night before the advance booking had opened. The demand for the tickets was so high that in some theatres the managers just put the phone off the hook. Looking at the advance, trade pundits were predicting that the film would cross a business of eleven lakh rupees in its first week.

THINGS LOOKING UP FOR SHOLAY: Big Grin
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Sholay 1975

The buoyancy was balanced by the legions of cynics. After the premiere, the critics and indusrywalas had already given their verdict, and their had been more brickbats than bouquets. Even the black marketeers- those most knowledgeable of critics - were a little apprehensive about the film. Sure, it was the Midas touch of the Sippy's and Salim-Javed, and yes, the film had an impressive starcast, but the story sounded strange: Sanjeev was playing a handicapped man and Jaya a silent widow, and there was some new villain who wasn't in the mould of the suave smugglers of the day like Ajit and Pran.

The Sippy's only hope was that the audience would prove them all wrong. There was no reaction. On Friday, 15 August, the first day of 'Sholay's release, Ramesh drove from one theatre to another to assess the reaction of the audience. As on the premiere night, there was only silence. Over the weekend, panic set in. The theatres were full but the reports were mixed. Pundits were now predicting disaster. No one told Ramesh that, but he could see it in their faces of all those he met. Every one wore that peculiar expression of pity and awkwardness. They met him like he was a man in mourning.

Frown Frown
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Sholay 1975

The Sippys moved into damage-control mode. On the weekend, a hurried meeting was convened at Amitabh's house. G.P Sippy, Ramesh and Amitabh put their heads together to try and come up with solutions. Since there was no fear of piracy at the time, the release of the film in the major territories was being staggered. They could make substantial alterations before 'Sholay' hit the rest of the country. One suggestion was re-shooting the end again. Amitabh, post'Zanjeer' and 'Deewar', was too big a star to die. Jai was just a petty thief, he hadn't done anything to deserve death. Perhaps an ending in which the two couples walk into the sunset would salvage the film. Salim-Javed were vehement that the film shouldn't be touched. Ramesh considered the suggestion for a new ending, but not for long. His head said he should do it but his heart wouldn't allow it. He went with his heart A happy end would compromise his film even further. It was important that the audience leave the theatre with a feeling that something had been left unfinished. That slight ache in the heart was part of the film's appeal. Not a frame would be touched. He would swim or sink with the film.

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Sholay 1975

As the week wore on the anxiety of the crew turned into depression. On Monday morning, when the second week advance booking opened, there were modest queues outside Minerva and Excelsior where the 70mm prints were showing. At other theatres, hardly two or three people stood for tickets. In most of the suburban theatres, matinee shows had less than fifty per cent collections. For Ramesh, this was confirmation that all was lost. He was devastated. That evening he walked into Film Center, where more prints were being made, and told Anwar, 'Printing band kar do. Abhi kuchh samajh main nahin aa raha hai (Stop the printing. I don't understand what's going on.)' At home the unflappable demeanour cracked. It was the first time in his remarkable career that he was facing a flop. 'I think I've failed,' he told Geeta.

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Sholay 1975

At the Sippy house the tension was palpable. G.P Sippy stood rock-steady and characteristically optimistic. He was sure that the film would turn around. But at the back of his mind sat unpleasant thoughts: The film had gone way over budget and creditors had to be paid back. They might never be able to make another film again. This was one gamble that could put them back years. There were even rumours that the Sippys were packing up and leaving the country. One week later, on 22 August 1975, 'Sholay' was released in Bangalore in six theatres. Suresh Malhotra, the distributer, organized a grand premiere. The entire main cast and crew flew in for the night. Suresh loved 'Sholay'. When interviewed by 'Film Information' in July, he had predicted that the film would do a business of one crore. But it didn't look like the business would bear his claim. Even before the first week was over, collections took a dip in Bangalore.

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Sholay 1975

But the worst affected was Amjad. As negative feedback filtered in, Amjad became more and more silent. The normally effusive and volatile man retreated into a shell. His house was enveloped in gloom. An equally disheartened Asrani visited him in the first week. Asrani had been shooting at the nearby Mehboob Studio with Aruna Irani and she had suggested dropping in at Amjad's. 'Maine dam laga diya, ab nahi chali. kya kar sakte hain (I gave it all I had, but it hasn't worked. There's nothing to be done now),' Amjad told them mournfully. 'Lekin aapki taareef to bhut ho rahi hai (But theres great things being said about your performance),' Asrani countered. Praise was little consolation. 'What's the use, yaar?' Amjad replied, fighting back tears. 'Salim-Javed have told Ramesh that my voice ruined the picture. Sorry folks, I've missed the bus.'

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Sholay 1975

In all the sound and fury, Salim-Javed stood firm. 'Nothing doing,' they said to re-shooting proposals. 'This film will run.' It was the cockiness of youth and the confidence of a job well done. The following week, the two put an advertisement in the trade papers. The ad said, 'Salim-Javed predict that 'Sholay' will be a grosser of rupees one crore in each major territory of India.' The trade predicted that going by the response, the Sippys would be lucky if 'Sholay' managed forty lakh per territory.

Salim-Javed were wrong. As it turned out, one crore was a conservative estimate. Mid-week, a curious thing happened: there was little advance booking, but the theatre's were full. The proprietor at Geeta cinema in Worli told Ramesh, 'Don't worry, your film is a hit.' It was the first time Ramesh had heard the word used in connection with his film. 'How can you say that?' he asked. 'Because the sales of my soft drinks and ice-creams are going down,' the man replied. 'By the interval the audience are so stunned that they are not coming out of the theatre.'.

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Sholay 1975

THE TURNING POINT AS LIKE IN THE MOVIE WITH "PAKEEZAH"

Finally Ramesh understood why there was no reaction. People were overawed by what they were seeing. They needed time. Now, clearly 'Sholay' had found its audience. Word of mouth spread like a juicy rumour. The visuals were epic and the sound was a miracle; when Veeru threw the coin in the climax, people in the 70mm theatres dove under their seats to see where it had fallen. By the third week, audiences were repeating dialogues. It meant that at least some were coming in to see the film for a second time. Polydor noticed this and was quick to act. Record sales weren't good and the music company was in a panic. Even though people came out of the theatres with smiles on their faces, they didn't buy the music. The music men were bewildered. What was the problem here? Some key managers were dispatched to the theatres to see the film with the audience. They realized that the reaction to the dialogue was extraordinary. Obviously 'Sholay's visuals and dialogue were so overpowering that the music barely registered. If Polydor wanted to sell more records, it would have to give the audience what they remembered when they left the theatre: the dialogue. The strategy succeeded. Polydor couldn't keep up with the demand as records flew off the shelves.
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Sholay 1975

The tide had turned. 'Sholay' was beginning to prove all doomsayers wrong. As the film caught on, tickets became priceless. The lines at Minerva stretched a few kilometres, from the theatre to the nearby Tardeo bridge. The bus stop outside was renamed 'Sholay' stop'. The Minerva manager, Sushil Mehra, could barely keep up with the demand. He stayed at the booking window from 8 a.m to 8 p.m and finally just moved his family into a two-room apartment at the theatre; going home seemed pointless.

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Sholay 1975

The Sippys stopped listening to the trade. As the collections mounted, it became obvious that they were looking at something big. In September, Ramesh left for London to take his much-deserved holiday. But every week the collections were given to him over the phone. Ten weeks after its release the film was declared a super hit, and on 11 October 1975 'Sholay' already a blockbuster, was released in the territories of Delhi, U.P, Bengal, the Central Provinces and Hyderabad to a record-breaking box office.

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Sholay 1975

Several months later, Asrani ran into Amjad. Both had been invited to inaugurate a studio in Gujarat. On the flight, Asrani laughed: 'Haan ji, did you miss the bus?' Amjad broke into a broad grin. The studio was about forty kilometres away from the airport. While driving there, Amjad's son felt thirsty, and they stopped at a small roadside stall. It was a ramshackle place selling cold drinks, biscuits and cigarettes. There was no other building or even a hut to be seen for miles. As they entered the shop, a voice crackled on a rickety gramophone:

'Kitne aadmi the?'

Gabbar Singh's dialogue boomed through the shop. The stall owner served the group drinks but did not recognize the star. For a minute, Amjad stood absolutely still. His eyes squinted in recognition of his own voice. Then, listening to his voice playing in a shanty on a dusty, deserted road in the middle of nowhere, Amjad Khan sat down and cried.

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Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:


Sanjeev Kumar as he appears in Sholay

Hari bhai died in 1985. He was only forty-seven, Frown but a lifetime of unhealthy eating and drinking habits had caught up with him. Sanjeev never achieved the status of 'phenomenon' as Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan did. In fact, toward the end, he had become increasingly careless about his looks. But his name was a standard for good acting. And unlike other stars, he wasn't bound by commercial considerations. He enthusiatically donned a gray wig to play the Thakur. For Sanjeev, always, the role was the prize.

N.B. May I add here that Sanjeev was one of the men who was very much in love with Hema Malini, it is rumored that to appease that love which was rebuffed, he resort to the bottle and eventually that was partly the cause for his demise:

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Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:


NOSTALGIC EH!
DHARMENDRA WITH HIS COMRADES FROM SHOLAY

Dharmendra married twice and has maintained both his wives. His first marriage was to Prakash Kaur at the age of 19 in 1954. His second marriage was to the Bollywood actress Hema Malini. They are said to have fallen in love on the sets of Sholay (1975) although they have made many films together before and after Sholay. From his first marriage he has two daughters who are settled in California and two sons who are also successful actors: Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol. From his second wife Hema Malini, he has two daughters who are also actresses: Esha Deol and Ahana Deol. His nephew Abhay Deol is also an actor. Dharmendra has gone on record saying he did not believe the Mumbai film industry was a place suitable for girls. He was unperturbed by his sons Sunny and Bobby joining the industry, he was vocal about his displeasure regarding his daughter Esha's choice of profession. It is rumoured that he converted to Islam in order to legitimize his second marriage.

Someday I will be tempted to do a profile on Dharmendra (Dharam Garam)

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Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:


HEMA MALINI: AS SHE APPEARS IN SHOLAY

Sholay (1975) opposite Dhramendra, made her popularity soar higher and higher.

At a time when she was riding a crest of popularity, famed actors like Jeetendra and Sanjeev Kumar proposed her for marriage. But she had something else in mind. Hema Malini later broke conventions by entering into matrimonial alliance with already married Dharmendra. The marriage not only prospered, but also made Dharmendra-Hema one of the most sought after Bollywood couples ever.

Lately Hema is busy casting the careers of daughter Esha and Ahna. Besides, she also edits a Mumbai based woman's magazine. Unlike, the case of hubby Dharmendra, Hema got the Filmfare award rather early in 1972. In 1992, Hema Malini was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the government of India for her contribution to the society. In August 2003, the President of India nominated her to the Rajya Sabha.

In the latest scramble of stars joining political parties, Hema too has joined BJP at the behest of its President Venkiah Naidu. The veteran of over 100 films has campaigned hard for her husband Dharmendra, who has made into the Lok Sabha from Bikaner constituency. Only time can tell how far this famous pair of Veeru and Basanti with Hema sitting in the Upper House and Dharamji seated in the Lower House, can re-enact Sholay in public life.
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Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:

AMITABH BACCHAN:


Amitabh Bachchan held on to superstar status for two decades. The uncharismatic underdog who couldn't get a film left his rivals eating dust. Nobody else even came close. He was ranked number one to ten. Amitabh survived a near-fatal accident on the sets of Manmohan Desai's 'Coolie', the debilitating disease myasthenia gravis, and a scandal-ridden plunge into politics. By the late 80's and early 90s, Bachchan's films were propelled purely by star appeal. In 1992, the 'one-man industry' took a long holiday from films and returned three years later.

IT CAN BE SAID THAT AFTER SHOLAY AMITABH WENT ON TO GIVE US HITS AFTER HITS AND CONTINUE TO DO SO, HE HAS EVENTUALLY BECOMES ONE OF THE BEST, IF NOT THE BEST ACTOR ALIVE TODAY;

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Originally posted by asj:
Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:


Sanjeev Kumar as he appears in Sholay

Hari bhai died in 1985. He was only forty-seven, Frown but a lifetime of unhealthy eating and drinking habits had caught up with him. Sanjeev never achieved the status of 'phenomenon' as Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan did. In fact, toward the end, he had become increasingly careless about his looks. But his name was a standard for good acting. And unlike other stars, he wasn't bound by commercial considerations. He enthusiatically donned a gray wig to play the Thakur. For Sanjeev, always, the role was the prize.

N.B. May I add here that Sanjeev was one of the men who was very much in love with Hema Malini, it is rumored that to appease that love which was rebuffed, he resort to the bottle and eventually that was partly the cause for his demise:

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wow, what an all consuming love n the tragic ending....so sad, he was so masterful in that role Frown
Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:


AMITABH BACCHAN:


Amitabh Bachchan held on to superstar status for two decades. The uncharismatic underdog who couldn't get a film left his rivals eating dust. Nobody else even came close. He was ranked number one to ten. Amitabh survived a near-fatal accident on the sets of Manmohan Desai's 'Coolie', the debilitating disease myasthenia gravis, and a scandal-ridden plunge into politics. By the late 80's and early 90s, Bachchan's films were propelled purely by star appeal. In 1992, the 'one-man industry' took a long holiday from films and returned three years later.

IT CAN BE SAID THAT AFTER SHOLAY AMITABH WENT ON TO GIVE US HITS AFTER HITS AND CONTINUE TO DO SO, HE HAS EVENTUALLY BECOMES ONE OF THE BEST, IF NOT THE BEST ACTOR ALIVE TODAY;

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Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:


JAYA BHADURI: LADY OF THE LAMP: HECK OF A FILMSHOT



The lady of the lamps was among Jaya's last roles. Engrossed in her children and marriage, she abandoned her career soon after 'Sholay'. She returned in 1981 in Yash Chopra's 'Silsila' and has since done the occasional challenging roles.

SHE WAS VINTAGE JAYA IN FIZA: IN AN UNFOREGTABLE ROLE: MOST OF US WILL REMEMBER "KABHI KHUSHI KABHI GHAM" ALSO HUM SATH SATH HAIN

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Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:


AMJAD KHAN AKA GABBAR SINGH:

Amjad died on 27 July 1992 at the age of forty-eight. Amjad was candid enough to acknowledge that a role like Gabbar happens only once in a career. 'From here,' he often said, 'the only place i can go is down. This cannot be repeated.' But Amjad became a leading villain and character artiste, playing parallel roles in hits such as 'Mukaddar Ka Sikandar', 'Suhaag', 'Lawaaris' and 'Mr Narwarlal. He also turned in a critically acclaimed performane in Satyajit Ray's 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi.' On 15 october 1976, Amjad met with a near-fatal accident on the Mumbai-Goa road. Swerving to avoid hitting a boulder, he drove the car into a tree. The steering wheel went into his chest. He recovered from the serious injuries, but the drugs administered to him caused a serious weight problem. He ballooned dramatically, and soon the roles coming to him were comedies. But Amjad rarely complained. 'I've come with nothing and whatever i've made in this life is profit,' was his philosophy till his untimely death.

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Sholay 1975

PERSONALITIES BEHIND SHOLAY 1975:

G.P.SIPPY:

G.P DIED IN DEC 25TH 2007:

Gopaldas Parmanand Sippy was the right man at the right time, he was a man who felt these changes in the air and responded to them in his films. His mind was keen and his instincts impeccable. He was a lawyer by training and a gambler by nature. He had run a restaurant, constructed buildings, produced films, directed films and even dabbled in acting. G.P had the knack for spotting an opportunity, and the guts to run with it. In 1947 the Sippy's had migrated to Mumbai from Karachi with only their shirts on their backs. Stories of how G.P built back the family fortune are now industry folklore. Legend has it that he was eating in a restaurant in Colaba when he noticed that there was a long line outside the door. He asked his neigbour the reason and was told that the offices in the area had just halted work for lunch. So G.P decided to open a restaurant. He located an appropriate shop, but he did not have the Rs 5000 required to rent it. In fact, he had hardly any money at all. But in the morning he opened a bank account with Rs 100, and wrote out a cheque to the landlord. The shop was his. G.P then promptly mortgaged the shop for Rs 5000 and deposited the money in his bank.

AFTER SHOLAY HE WENT ON TO PRODUCE THE FOLLOWING FILMS:

# Hamesha (1997)
# Zamaana Deewana (1995)
# Aatish: Feel the Fire (1994)
# Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992)
# Patthar Ke Phool (1991)
# Bhrashtachar (1989)
# Saagar (1985)
# Shaan (1980)
# Ahsaas (1979)
# Trishna (1978)

BEFORE SHOLAY SOME OF HIS FOLLOWING FILMS WERE HITS:

# Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)
# Andaz (1971)
# Bandhan (1969)
# Brahmachari (1968/I)
# Mere Sanam (1965)
# Bhai-Bahen (1959)
# 12 O'Clock (1958)
# Sazaa (1951)

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