Sholay 3D isn’t really an emphatic expression of how 3D effect can convincingly enhance what is deemed as classic storytelling. For me and for most cine lovers, Sholay’s release in 3D is an expression of awe that audiences still hold for the film even four decades after the film ran its fortune at the box office. While as a critic, I found myself too much in admiration of the film to indulge in any form of critiquing, perhaps the best way to celebrate the release of Sholay is to dig out the unheard stories about the film. Koimoi compiles for you a few Sholay anecdotes that you might have never heard of.
1) Sholay still ranks amongst the highest grossing films of all time. Made on a lavish budget that ran INR 300,000 in those days, the film managed to earn an income over 162 crores (after adjusting inflation). The film ran for 5 years at the theater in Bombay called Minerva where it was first premiered on 15th August, 1975. It was initially released only in Bombay circuit, and later on 11th October of the same year, it was re-released in other circuits after taking over Bombay by victory. Interestingly, the film was even pulled down from theaters due to lower audiences turning up for it intially.
2) While most of modern day critics hail Sholay as the epitome of commercial Hindi cinema, most critics way back panned the film brutally calling it a grotesque mismash of Western style and Indian mileu. The film received extremely poor response from most unanimously as they hailed it as a thematic disaster with grave flaws. Since the film was extremely expensive, it was naturally presumed to be a flop. However, it was the strong word of the mouth which sustained it through till it emerged as a Blockbuster. Later, plenty of foreign journalists labeled the film as a Hindi commercial cinema’s most revolutionary work.
3) The film was originally titled Ek, Do, Teen. The producers were hell bent on making a revolutionary film and left no stone unturned to bring the best shade of perfect to the venture. In fact, the producers even hired a few stuntmen and technicians who had worked on a few of Sean Connery’s Bond films.
4) Gabbar Singh was a real man. Yes, that’s right! The character which Amjad Khan immortalized was fashioned on a real-life dacoit from Gwalior who actually used to cut off limbs of victims and send them down to terrorize villagers. Interestingly, Amjad wasn’t the first choice for the role. It was in fact Danny Denzongpa who was initially going to play the role but later walked out citing date issues. Apparently writer Salim-Javed weren’t extremely pleased with Amjad in the beginning as they found his voice too frail to be suitable for the role. However, he went on to pleasantly surprise everyone with his iconic delivery!
5) Even Amitabh Bachchan wasn’t the first preference for Jai. The producers had zeroed on roping in Shatrughan Sinha for the role but Big B apparently convinced the producers that he was better suited as Jai after Dharmendra recommended him for the role.
6) Funnily Dharmendra was actually more keen on playing the role of Thakur and by default Sanjeev Kumar was going to play Veeru. Gossip mongers suggest that Dharamji was not comfortable with Sanjeev getting paired as Hema Malini’s love interest in the film because he had proposed to Hema for marriage. But Dharmendra was too love struck and settled for the role of Veeru. Hema Malini did not have a single scene in Sanjeev in the film simply because the situation between them was very awkward after she had turned down his proposal. The best earners out of the romantic situation between Dharmendra and Hema Malini were the spot boys whom Dharmendra used to bribe 20 bucks for spoiling the takes of their romantic scenes. The spotboys reportedly earned over 2000 rupees from this.
7) One of the main reasons why the film’s cost hiked up was the re-shooting of its climax after the Censor Board rejected the original. The film was apparently too violent and the Censor Board had opined that it would have affect the young minds quite adversely. The original climax shows Thakur killing Gabbar however, it was later changed to the arrest of Gabbar.
8) Remember Gabbar’s ‘Kitne Aadmi The’ which was his introduction scene? Well, Amjad Khan took 40 retakes to complete it to the director’s satisfaction.
9) The film’s long opening sequence was shot over 7 weeks and was a straight lift from a popular 1939 film named Stage Coach by John Ford. The eloquent opening train sequence of the film was spectacularly shot but wasn’t exactly novel.
10) Amitabh Bachchan had a close escape from death on the sets of the film. In one of the important action sequences Dharmendra’s bullett missed Amitabh nearly by an inch. While most remember the legendary actor’s critical tryst only from the unfortunate incident on the sets of Coolie, Sholay’s risky shot had almost cost him his life.