When the history of Indian cinema will be written thousand years later, one can be sure that Sholay will be prominently mentioned even then, such is the charm of this timeless classic.
Hailed as India's answer to the Spaghetti Western, Sholay is possible the only film in Bollywood, whose every dialogue and every character, irrespective of significance, is remembered fondly even today.
The story is set in Ramgarh, a village in the grip of the menacing dacoit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan), who had massacred the family of Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) for arresting him. When the intrepid Thakur set out on his own to exact vengeance, Gabbar chopped off his arms…but this has not killed Thakur's thirst for revenge.
Keeping in mind the well-known adage 'set a thief to catch a thief', Thakur recruits two thieves Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra), who had impressed the Thakur ages ago with their valour during a dacoit attack on a train. Though Jai and Veeru are initially more interested in Thakur's valuables than his vengeance, the two mend their ways and decide to complete the job that they were paid to do.
Meanwhile, the two mercenaries also manage to find time for love-Jai loses his heart to the stoic Radha (Jaya Bachchan), Thakur's widowed daughter-in-law while Veeru falls for the motor-mouth Basanti (Hema Malini). How these two manage to rid Ramgarh of Gabbar and his menace forms the rest of the plot.
When it comes to performances, it can be sincerely said that no actor from the team lags behind. Whether it be the taciturn Jai or the lovable lout Veeru or the determined Thakur or the evil Gabbar, each character is finely etched and every actor has done justice to his or her character. In fact, Gabbar still remains one of the best Bollywood baddies ever to send a delicious shiver up the spines of movie-goers.
If that was not all, every character in the film has got some of the most memorable dialogues in the history of Indian cinema that are remembered fondly till date. Be it Gabbar's 'Kitne aadmi thay?' or Jai's 'tumhara naam kya hai, Basanti?' or Thakur's 'mujhe Gabbar chahiye…Zinda!' or the Hitler-ish jailor's Hum angrez ke zamane ke jailor hain, each and every dialogue commands whistles and cheers.
Another thing worth mentioning about Sholay is its crisp editing. The film moves at a brisk pace, with nary an unnecessary scene to mar the cinematic experience. Editor MS Shinde's craft is clearly evident in many scenes (like the one where Gabbar squashing an insect on his arm, signifying the murder of a villager) and thus, it is no surprise that the film won the Filmfare Award only for Best Editing.
The songs in the film too are as memorable as the dialogues, right from the 'Ye dosti hum nahi todenge' to 'Koi haseena jab rooth jaati hai' to 'Mehbooba Mehbooba', with the inimitable Pancham Da (R.D. Burman) providing the background score.
A timeless classic that can be watched again and again, Sholay is a must watch for every cinephile.