Sholay: 10 Interesting Facts About the Legendary Film That Changed Indian Cinema


In 1973 Ramesh Sippy went on to direct a film starring Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Amjad Khan, and Sanjeev Kumar that would forever change the trajectory of Indian cinema. The film we’re talking about is of course,  Sholay (1975).

Sholay had a profound impact on the history of Indian cinema, but its makers had no idea at the time. Many generations of moviegoers have been enchanted by this cult favorite.

Everything about the picture, from the songs to the dialogue to the characters to the action, left an impression on the audience's minds and hearts. And even after so many years, the recollections are still as vivid as they were when the film was released.

This year in August it will be 47 years since Indian cinemagoers first laid their eyes on Sholay (Flames), the 'Masala Western' often regarded as the best Hindi film ever.


After its premiere in 1975, Sholay played for five years straight at Mumbai's legendary 1500-capacity Minerva Cinema. It has been consistently voted the best film of the year by both fans and reviewers. Bollywood magazine Filmfare voted it the best Bollywood film in 2005, while Time Out's 100 Best Bollywood Movies survey ranked it as the best film in the country.

All-star cast members included Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, the scriptwriting duo behind Andaz (1971), Haathi mere Saathi (1971), Zanjeer (1973) and Deewaar (1975) (also fathers of contemporary Bollywood superstars Salman Khan and Farhan Akhtar, respectively), as well as veteran actors Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, and Hema Malini. The film also starred the then-rising star Amitabh Bhachan, aka The Big B, who at 79 years old is still one of Bollywood's most revered actors.

However, Sholay's cast and crew were ready to reshoot the ending because of unfavorable audience reactions during its initial weeks. “It started out as a flop. The critics were brutal, as were the trade magazines. It was called a dying ember and too expensive… [they said] that a competent director could have done better with fewer funds,” says Anupama Chopra. A Leading Hindi film critic and author of Sholay: The Making of a Classic.


Sholay is more than just a fun movie. It's like a relic from the past. Everything about the decade and how India viewed itself back then can be found in this commercially produced film. The characters and their roles in the film teach us about an India that existed at the time of the film's release. That was a huge departure. It may have been a lot more innocent back then.

This isn't to say that the bandit movies preceding Sholay, such as Mother India (1957)and Ganga Jamuna (1961)were not popular. Sholay carries on in this vein. The bandit issue, on the other hand, has a distinct chemistry. The film featured a large ensemble cast and numerous expertly staged settings. In addition, the film's portrayal of emotion was superb, resulting in a high level of viewer satisfaction.

One of Sholay's most popular songs, "Yeh Dosti" (This Friendship), is a tribute to the film's central characters, Jai and Veeru's, friendship. It's astonishing how much love and affection the outlaws have for one another. 40 years after its premiere, the film's significance has only grown in the public consciousness.

Ramesh Sippy's frantic 204-minute action-adventure follows former police chief Thakur (Sanjeev Kumar), who recruits robbers with hearts of gold, Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra), to capture Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) alive. Iron cuts iron, as Thakur says in one of the film's many great one-liners.

As a Bollywood blockbuster, Sholay had it all: famous characters like Gabbar Singh and Jai-tale Veeru's of friendship, as well as a nuanced love story and stunning lines.

As 'Sholay approaches its 47th anniversary this year, we thought we'd share some fun facts about the film with you:

1. Did you know that Amjad Khan, the late actor who played Gabbar Singh, was not the first option for the role? Danny Denzongpa was the first person to be offered the position. Danny, on the other hand, declined the invitation because he was also scheduled to shoot Feroz Khan's Dharmatma (1975) in Afghanistan at the same time.

2. Sippy was considering the famous actor Pran for the character of Thakur Baldev Singh, although most of us are unaware of this fact. However, Sanjeev Kumar was eventually cast as Thakur, and he did an excellent job of portraying the character.

3. Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan are two of the most celebrated couples. You may not be aware of this, but both the leads  were romantically involved while filming Sholay! Dharmendra married Hema five years after the premiere of Sholay, whereas Amitabh Bachchan married Jaya Bachchan barely four months before the filming began.

4. Shweta Bachchan, the couple's first child, was due to be born while the shooting was going on. It had to be postponed by many days due to Jaya's pregnancy. At the time of the release of Sholay, Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan were expecting their second child, Abhishek Bachchan.

5. It's no secret that Hema Malini was considered the "dream girl" of Bollywood by many men both inside and outside the industry. Before the filming for Sholay ever began, veteran actor Sanjeev Kumar proposed to her.

6. It is interesting to note that Dharmendra was eager to play Thakur Baldev Singh in the film. When Dharmendra learned that Sanjeev Kumar would be playing Veeru opposite Hema Malini, he abandoned his plans to play Thakur in favor of Veeru, because he was also smitten with the actress at the time.

7. So in love with Hema Malini that Dharmendra allegedly paid the light boys to disrupt filming whenever romantic scenes were being shot so that there might be multiple takes of the couple.

8. On August 15, 1975, Sholay was released with a different climax. Filmmakers re-thought the climax and decided to murder Amitabh Bachchan's character after the film received a middling reception. In the blink of an eye, Sholay was born and went on to smash numerous records.


9. What about the song "Yeh Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge" from the film? Well, that one song was shot over the course of 21 days.

10. Sholay was released in Pakistan for the first time on April 17, 2015. The premiere was conducted in Karachi, despite the fact that the film was distributed by Geo films and Mandviwalla Entertainment together.

From Around the web