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Why ‘Sholay’ has become a classic film

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‘Sholay’ is an Indian Bollywood film made in the late 70’s and was directed by Ramesh Sippy. ‘Sholay’ means burning flames and has been called a classic. It has been made in Bollywood where in all their films has a strong love plot some action and comedy. ‘Sholay’ is very different to them films and their content. ‘Sholay’ is 3 hours long just like any other Indian movie but the genre is more of an action type movie. The plot is very complicated with many embedded narratives in the story line, it feels like you are not just watching one story but many.

For a long movie it only has 4 songs compared to other Indian movie that is not a lot. I think the film is for a mature audience but the songs all concern friendship and love. The dance routines are very lively with a lot of co-ordinated moves. Comedy in the film is very funny especially when you consider when it was made. I think it brought new ideas to cinema. The villain ‘Gabber’ is portrayed as a heartless brute, who him and his gang terrorize a small village. The opening scene shows a train come in and at the end of the film it shows a train leaving.

Thos symbolized the begging and the ending of the film. When the train arrives there is no music just the sound of the engine which represents realism and that it is a realistic film. One person gets off you do not know if he will play a significant or important part. The camera does not close up on his face which suggests he plays a significant part. When he leaves the station with a man he just meets the director utilizes a series of tracking and panning shots to show their journey. This sets the scene for the movie. They go through deserts and a small village.

The music is much like a western and it started when they left the station. They are on horse back which adds to the western cowboy feel. Now there are dissolved shots of beautiful backgrounds. Then there are cuts and now the camera is closer and lower. They reach a house in the middle of no were this is also typical of western film. The camera zooms out and the music fades. You do not know were the village, station and the house are, nor are the costumes belong to a certain part of India. This is done so that anyone can watch the film and not be left out.

He director had a huge task to try to add in all the factors of cinema into one film. Some how he added comedy, drama, action, romance, and violence in the film in a unique way. Action plays a very big part in ‘Sholay’ some people would say it is a violent film. There are many embedded narratives the first flash back introduces the two main characters. This is a main action part of the film and it is at the begging of the film so it gets you hooked. Bandits try to jump on the train they are trying to do an almost impossible task. They used real bullets for the extra sense of realism.

The bandits and the hero’s have a shoot out while the train is moving, some bandits die and fall of their horses. This creates a sense of danger and also tension is building up. It is a very fast scene and when one of the main characters is feeding coal to the train engine to make the train go faster it symbolizes what that scene is all about. The director utilizes slow motion shots were needed, a typical example of this is when Gabber kills Thaker whole family except the daughter in-law. Thaker grandson also dies when Thaker arrives everyone in the village is staring at something.

The director creates suspense as you don’t know what they are staring at. There is a panning shot of the back of the crowd and then it goes up and reveals 5 bodies covered in a white sheet. There is no music there is silence to create tension. Thaker goes through the crowd and sees the dead bodies, you can see in his eyes he is burning with anger hence the name ‘Sholay’. Another key factor which made ‘Sholay’ into a classic is the mood changes. In a normal film they take ages but in ‘Sholay’ they happen quite rapidly. An example of this is when the villagers a celebrating Holi, the festival of colours.

They are singing a song and all of a sudden Gabber and his men all come in with their guns. They fire their guns and cause mayhem. These bits of the film keep you hooked so you never get bored in the film. The comedy provides a light relief from the shooting and all great films have some comedy in them. There are two main melodramatic characters Basanti and the prison inspector. Basanti, the attractive women talks all the time and her relationship with Veeru is quite funny. They way they try to trick each other and play around with each other relates to people who have been in relationships.

There are only 4 songs in the whole film the ironic thing is that they are all about love and friendship and the title of the film means flame of anger. The first song is about the friendship of Jai and Veeru this is here to show you the link between the ‘good’ crooks. The second song is used in the mood swing when they sing about Holi. The third song is all about sex appeal there is an extremely beautiful exotic dancer this creates the sex appeal in the film. The fourth and final song is about Basanti’s love for Veeru and where she has to dance for his life.

All the songs are well co-ordinates, sung and fun to watch. They compare different to other songs in films before ‘Sholay’. That is another key factor to why ‘Sholay’ was a classic. The costumes are very simple and a character would probably were 2 or 3 different suits throughout the film. This is probably you can easily identify with the characters. For example Thakers daughter in-law only wears white throughout the film. At the end of the movie Thaker has a final fight with Gabber, Thaker really gives the film meaning as he lets out his anger on Gabber.

Then Thaker has to make the fatal diction to either kill Gabber or send him to jail. Tension increases but he shows compaction and sends him to jail. Most of the actors went on to bigger things after ‘Sholay’ especially Kmeeta Bhachan, which is funny as he was the only main character to die in the film. I think that many other Bollywood films took pieces out of ‘Sholay’ and implemented it into their own films. If you look at some modern Hindi or Indian films today you can still see the connection.

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