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India’s Independence Day and 40 Years of SHOLAY: 5 lessons from the iconic film

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On the 68th Independence Day a monumental achievement would be made in the world of Hindi cinema as SHOLAY, the iconic film would complete its 40th year of release. There could not be a better endorsement for the cult status that SHOLAY has acquired than what Ramesh Sippy reminisced about last night while soaking in the occasion.

He informed in a television programme that he got a call from a cinema hall from Worli to inform him that his food and beverage counter had been orphaned since the time SHOLAY was being displayed in his cinema hall. This underlined the riveting effect SHOLAY had on the audience that people did not want to leave the cinema hall.

One need to remember that during those times as soon as songs started playing people would scamper out to have a quick smoke and come back. Not with SHOLAY however, and on this occasion one needs to rewind the steps to see what life lessons SHOLAY continues to offer.

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But before proceeding to those lessons, one also needs to underline the fact that SHOLAY was released during the emergency and it was a celebration of the subaltern, the common man so to say, to rise against the tyrant leveraging on the meager resources at disposal and emerge victorious.

Before SHOLAY, there never was such an epic celebration about the indomitable spirit of the common man and this could be the reason why generations after generations continue to be inspired from SHOLAY. 

1.First real film which was ode to friendship 
There have been films made on friendship, before SHOLAY and after SHOLAY as well, but the amazing bond that was displayed through the characters played by Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra, in particular Big B by choosing a coin that had only one head on both its sides, underlined the subtle message to honor the friendship. It also forcefully becomes manifest in the penultimate scene where Sanjeev Kumar, reminds Dharmendra that it was his late friend who had given a commitment, and Dharmendra’s character reluctantly honors the commitment.

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2.Commitment should always be adhered to if one has to succeed in life
Keep the faith as they say and things would change, never betray the commitment and SHOLAY is a living testimony to that commitment. In the opening shot of the film itself, when the character of Sanjeev Kumar is injured while fighting, Dharmendra’s character wishes to run away, but the character played by Big B stands the ground and sticks out the neck to execute a job as it was a part of the committed assignment. No wonder, the duo gets another job to execute Gabbar Singh as Thakur has seen them rising to the occasion to execute a previous job. The commitment was also manifest from the dance of Hema Malini, for a commitment of life that she had made with Dharmendra and she underlined with a force. One rarely sees such kind of cinematic representations underlining commitments of various kinds in life.

3.Widowhood is not the end of life there can be a second life as well
One could argue that it was KATI PATANG which had brought into relief the idea of widow remarriage, as a matter of fact the character of widow in KATI PATANG was not a widow in the real sense of terms. Perhaps for the first time with SHOLAY an idea of widow remarriage was thrown for the audience, way back in 1975, but as it still was a social taboo – the idea was allowed to be snuffed gradually and its rancor was manifest in the dialogue of Big B as he was dying – and seeing Jaya Bachchan also scamper through – ye kahani bhee adhoorie reh gayee.

4.Keep the faith and never be deterred by eventualities
Faith is not to be distinguished by being religious in attending to the religious ceremonies associated with a religion, as one could surmise from the character played by A K Hangal, but being strong in conviction about following it as a part of life. Though his grandson has been shot, he still wishes to proceed to offer his namaz underlining the fact that come what may the routines of life should not be changed on account of eventualities of any kind.

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5. Always keep your resources well-oiled to face any kind of eventualities
The character of Basanti played by Hema Malini has been shown in the film feeding her mare Dhanno whenever she gets the time. When Dhanno is well fed and the crisis emerges, it is Dhanno on whom Basanti has the faith, to tide over the crisis and she does try her level best to mitigate the situation to a certain extent.

SHOLAY would continue to mesmerize generations after generations as this was the first film which was well publicized through radio via its impacted dialogues. In 1975 there used to be a special slot at 9.15 pm on radio where stories were broadcasted woven around the dialogues and this continued for months on end. SHOLAY in fact also triggered the sale of audio cassettes of dialogues, an experimentation that could not endure much longer after SHOLAY, perhaps owing to the fact that the kind of dialogues SHOLAY had could never be repeated again.

 

 

 

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