Irish Film Institute -Sholay


This massively popular adventure film is India’s best-known ‘curry’ Western. Patterned on the Italian Western, Sholay combines elements of spectacle, romance, comedy, feudal costume drama and the musical. In addition, it is peppered with references to the work of filmmakers as diverse as Sam Peckinpah and Charles Chaplin, and also draws on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The revenge plot features two adventurous crooks, Veeru (Dharmendra) and Jaidev (Amitabh Bachchan), who are hired by ex-cop Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) to hunt down the dreaded dacoit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan), the murderer of Thakur’s family. The film’s spectacular cinematography, combined with the recurrent motif of menacing clouds, are crucial in building up a sense of the evil Gabbar Singh as a major legend. Gabbar Singh’s dialogue became famous throughout India and was eventually released as an LP. Perhaps the key to Sholay’s success has to do with the way in which it anthologises the highlights of various genre narratives and combines them in a single film tactic that’s usually reserved for crazy comedies.

Director: Ramesh Sippy.
India, 1975.
English subtitles.
199 mins.

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