Sholay, as Veeru announced in an inebriated state from the water tank, was always a three dimensional film. It has drama, it has emotion and it has action. And indeed it is timeless. The idea to turn it into 3D is just cosmetic. It was always a technical marvel, much ahead of its time in shot taking, background sound and action choreography. 3D doesn’t add anything to Ramesh Sippy’s magnum opus apart from a few log woods coming at you in the kinetic train chase sequence. What it does is take away a little shine and blur some sequences. Yes, the improved sound quality does add little more thump to Gabbar’s shoes and Thakur’s jutis but that is about all.
Still it gives you a reason to revisit the film that redefined mainstream Hindi film cinema by taking maa out of the picture and making revenge as the raison de etre of heroes and villains on screen for years to come.
It gives you an opportunity to sit back and look dispassionately at why you like these characters, Jai, Veeru, Basanti, Gabbar, Thakur and even Sambha so much, even when every line of theirs has been spoofed many times over; why the sub plots still keep you riveted when they have been butchered many times over.
When A.K. Hangal as Imam Saahib says “itna sannata kyun hai bhai” after the murder of his son at the hands of Gabbar’s men, eyes well up all over again. The discerning mind wants to question the representation of Muslim as a victim who is ready to sacrifice so that others live but you hold on because those were different times, times when a slight hint of Satyen Kappu smoking hookah didn’t warrant an anti-smoking caption. Did Jai die because that society at large was not agreeable to widow remarriage. Was Radha’s Holi flashback an afterthought to create a balance? Social and political correctness change with time but heart-felt emotions don’t get corroded.
A lesson in screen writing: here the theme is not real but every scene looks realistic even almost four decades after Sippy shook us with his robust cinematic style. Dwarak Divecha’s immersive cinematography generates an emotional swell even in the times of CGI. It makes you dwell on the cascade of emotions that Salim Javed orchestrate. Like right after the massacre of Thakur’s family, we have Helen gyrating to ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’ to soften the blow.
Suddenly, you realise that nobody holds a gun like Amitabh Bachchan does. It seems like an extension of him. When he uses the coin to decide who will stay on to take on the dacoits, you get a sense that he was indeed the head of the film while Dharmendra was the heart. Amidst all the rich dialogue-baazi in the scene where Jai comes riding on a buffalo and Radha half smiles for the first time, it makes a lasting impact with its silence. Take a ticket to Ramgarh, there is still a lot to explore in the rocky terrain with a throbbing heart.