BollySitter Recommended Age: 10+
BollySitter Family GO Factor: 4.0/5.0
Directed by: Ramesh Sippy
Starring: Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Amjad Khan
Written By: Salim-Javed
Music by: RD Burman
Produced by: GP Sippy
Lyrics by: Anand Bakshi
Running time: 204 mins
Genre(s): Drama, Action, Adventure
An all-time classic, Sholay is an amazingly well-crafted saga that is forever etched in memories of fans of Indian cinema. It demonstrates the highest level of skill in both the art and technical craft and ultimately is complete entertainer of a film that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
The story is essentially a revenge drama full of action, thrills and emotions! In the small village of Ramgarh, a retired policeman summons a pair of small-time thieves that he had once arrested, to help him capture a notorious dacoit wanted by the authorities.
The film is a master class in techniques of filmmaking. It’s primarily a triumph of incredible writing with many unforgettable characters, dialogues and sequences penned by Salim-Javed (even as they drew some very high level inspirations from other sources). The film also serves as an amazing vehicle for director Ramesh Sippy to show his talent with unforgettable set pieces. The film is a sheer explosion on the screen that includes top-notch contributions by the who’s who of top stars of Hindi Cinema. The background music by RD Burman is a huge bonanza!
The film isn’t just sheer entertainment and thrills but has some takeaway messages as well, in terms of friendship between the two protagonists. It shows that one of them lies to save other’s life or helps the other person make the right choices. The film also somewhat positively shows the possibility of a widow starting another relationship, which was taboo in India.
A lesser known fact about Sholay is the role played by the Indian Film Censor Board in those days. Originally, Sholay was filmed with an ending sequence which is gory and shows the policeman taking the law in his own hands. The Censor Board had objected to this ending and asked the director to film a milder alternate ending. This is a great fodder for discussion – how much power should the censor have? Should they just provide an objective rating assessment and suggest appropriate cuts? To what extent should they actually influence filmmaking? (Readers can view the “original” ending here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6p-_OIDp_g)
The film is clean in terms of sexuality. There is very minor use bad language, e.g., words like Kameena, Haramzada, Kutta are used. There are only a couple of smoking scenes and other than one long drunk (& funny) sequence there isn’t much drinking shown either.
However, there are many violent scenes that may often be intense & frightening. A train robbery is shown in the opening sequence, followed by visuals of a bloody dead body. There are many chase sequences involving horses and intense background music. One female character is shown to dance on broken glass with blood shown. There are sequences of escape from jail and scenes showing stealing. One gun sequence involves a game of Russian Roulette in a memorable but scary sequence where the dacoit’s henchmen are initially spared but eventually shot dead. There are plenty of scenes of arson, looting, stampede at the village and some gruesome sequences involving the cop and the dacoit.
Please note, however, that since the film is set as an action-adventure-drama, the seemingly chilling and violent scenes in fact come off milder than the description above suggests, when viewed on screen. The film is more focused on thrills and advancing the plot than the dwelling much on the action scenes.
The main protagonists are also shown as petty thieves and swindlers who, at one point, are willing to cheat their own employer. Parents might want to discuss aspects about criminal reform and grey characterization of the main characters with children.
Sholay is a must watch film, one that frequently finds an entry in Top 5 or Top 10 lists of all-time greats of Indian Cinema. Every aspect of the film is crafted with care and immense mastery, be it dialogues, characterizations, background music, photogrpahy, screenwriting or acting!
The film is appropriate for viewing with kids in the 10+ age group due to the frequent and long violent sequences. BollySitter gives Sholay a “GO” rating of 4.0/5.0.