Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A birthday

There is a birthday today. And it's not my country that I'm talking about. It's the other birthday.

We actually need some history for this, though.

***

Till a long time I had been under the impression that Tridev was the greatest movie ever made. Ever. Even at that age I knew Naseeruddin was special and Sunny Deol was not. I used to mouth the lyrics of oye oye (someone had lied to me that singing the song can get me arrested, but I have forgotten who it was: I won't be surprised if it had been my mother).

Then came 1991. These was after my Class VIII annual examinations. Remember, this was the pre-cable TV, pre-DD Metro, pre-FM era. All we had was Doordarshan. And maybe Vividh Bharti. So basically, our weekly entertainment was limited to one Chitrahaar; one Chitramala (does anyone remember Chitramala?); one Chitrageet; one Rangoli; two movies; some serials (I have to agree that they were of infinitesimally superior quality to the ones they dish out these days); and cricket (mind you, Tendulkar had already arrived).

However, there were always the movie theatres of various types. There was New Empire, where you could have a drink in the interval (though not at fourteen); Priya, where the Front Stall was on the first floor and the "Dress Circle" was on the second; Bijoli, where they showed only Bangla movies; and there was Pradeep, where they posted a warning across the screen when high tide was approaching - to ensure that everyone had their feet raised, on the chairs. There were numerous others, but that is not the purpose of this article.

There was also Menoka. Menoka was the theatre that screened all the major releases of that era (they possibly still do that). However, they also screened old classics from time to time - a trend that was in vogue in Kolkata till about a decade back and has vanished subsequently, thanks to inexpensive cable television.

My father had promised me that he would take me to watch Sholay. He told me it was a greater movie than Tridev, and many Tridevs put together. This was difficult to digest - after all, how can you better something as grand as Tridev?

But I still went. And saw it. And bought the music cassette. And a two-cassette album of the dialogues. And learnt them by heart. And when I was permitted to go to the theatres alone, I made up for the first decade-and-a-half of Sholaylessness by watching it at every possible theatre at every possible opportunity.

My life changed. I got promoted to the Have-Watched group. The Elites. And by that I do not mean people who watch movies at Elite, no.

I got to know Gabbar's father's name; I got to know who acted in a double role in Sholay; I got to know whose head it was on the coin; I got to know of MYB 3047; I got to know how many times Jai had talked to Radha; I got to know the only time Sambha spoke in the movie other than poore pachaas hazaar; I got to know the colour of each of the three horses Kaalia and his mates were riding; I did spot the reference made in Andaz Apna Apna; I ended up finding out all places in India that are almost equidistant from Moradabad and Meerut; I also got to know of the qawwali that was not picturised in the movie; and even who the other Hari was.

And now, I know of The Seven Samurai and How the West Was Won. I even know that Mera Gaon Mera Desh was a worthy predecessor. But, hey, I can't remember loathing and being fascinated by - at the same time - anyone else before or after Gabbar. I cannot remember a scene that had a lump in my throat as big as the one I had when Radha put out the lights one by one in tune with the harmonica. I cannot remember my adrenaline rushing like what it does when Veeru rushes out to seek vengeance. I cannot remember gasping like I do when Thakur reveals his terrible secret, even after watching it for the thirtieth time.

It is certainly not the best movie of all time. But it's certainly the greatest.

***

So why today? Because the Sippys had decided for a 15th August release, in 1975.

Happy birthday.

PS:
I suppose I should share a birthday joke that I haven't heard of before 12th August, and am hence assuming it to be a fresh one. It's fitting that the joke should go with the post as well.

In 1975, Superman, Batman and Spiderman were flying across India and suddenly they died. How?
...
...
...
Na beta na, har cheez ka answer Rajinikanth nahin hota.
...
...
...
Yaad hai, Sholay mein Gabbar ne teen goliyaan hawa mein chalayi thi?

19 comments:

  1. 1991 e DD metro choley esheychilo :(

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    Replies
    1. Not possible. DD Metro came out some time after my Class X pre-tests, so we're actually talking about the second half of 1992 here.

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  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DD_Metro

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for pointing out the error. I have edited it.

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  3. A beautiful homage truly to an almost forgotten feeling..the glory of silver screen...your words wove a muslin creation.

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  4. who had double role in Sholay??

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  5. You forgot to mention Baba Sehgal and his Sholay tribute ;).

    Regardless - what an excellent post!

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    Replies
    1. Apoorva, you mean the Jatt Ludhiane ka song, right? I have been searching for that song desperately, but couldn't find it. :(

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  6. :D brilliant post again... There couldn't have been a better Independence Day post than this from you... I am still grinning... :D

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  7. Oh and also releases today... Ek Tha Tiger... :D

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    Replies
    1. 1,411 more kills, and it might as well be a documentary.

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    2. Ummm 1412 to be precise... You forgetting Salman... He is one of them now... :D

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    3. 1. Salman WAS a tiger, as the name of the movie suggests. So the count remains at 1,411.

      2. Inappropriate use of ellipses is really painful to the eye.

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  8. Enjoy the independence day! And here is something that could get me banned from this blog:

    When, I first went to college, I was asked by my seniors "You have watched Sholay, right?", almost undoubtedly a prelude to asking me to act out a character from the movie. I just replied saying I had watched half of the movie. It was suspected that I was trying to act smart, so the next question was: how can you be crazy enough to leave after half the movie ? And since people already suspected that I was trying to play the smartass, I was warned: "Do not say Loadshedding". I actually had no intention of acting smart .... I was just relating facts, that I had watched the second half of the movie, which they apparently did not expect and stopped asking anything after that.

    While I still remain a novice on trivia (maybe will get corrected by a new book), I can state that in between then and now, I did convert the half watched to a watched movie.

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    Replies
    1. Good one. Why would I ban you, given that you did go on to watch the movie?

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  9. I do remember watching all the Chitrahaar, Chitramaala, Rangoli and the 2 weekend movies - 1 bangla & 1 hindi.
    Till a long time I too hadn't watched Sholay. But when I did it was on TV, Doordarshan had aired it on 15th august afternoon of 2000, the silver jubilee year.

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  10. The last "FRESH" joke, icing on this cake....

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