Celebrating its 30th anniversary this August, Sholay (Flames), stars the godfather of Bollywood heroes Amitabh Bachchan at his best and is one of the most successful films of the 70s. Often described as a "curry" western, Sholay became a milestone in Indian cinema with an all-star cast, cult dialogue, stylish cinematography and a soundtrack that's still enjoyable today. It's the perfect entry point for any Bollywood virgins.
Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) enlists the help of two small-time, but brave crooks, Jaidev (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra), to seek revenge on Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan), who has killed all but one of his family members. Jai and Veeru's decision to stay and take up the landowner's offer - rather than raid his safe and run - is influenced by their attraction to the Thakur's widowed daughter-in-law, Radha (Jaya Bhaduri) and local girl, Basanti (Hema Malini), respectively. What follows is the battle of good versus evil entwined with romance, comedy, music and dance - not to mention the classic sequence where Basanti dances on glass to save Veeru from being killed.
"THE PERFORMANCES ARE POLISHED"
Fully-rounded characters and a simple narrative make three hours pass fairly quickly. The comedy cameos from Jagdeep and Asrani could be seen as unnecessary obstacles, though hardened fans of the movie will dispute this. All performances are polished but Amjad Khan's debut as the menacing Gabbar Singh deserves special mention, setting new standards for Bollywood villains.
It's a movie that you can watch again and again, and hardcore Bollywood fans do. But even if you just watch Sholay once, you won't be disappointed.
In Hindi with English subtitles