One notable fact that comes out of this book is that each actor wanted to play the other's role. Thakur's and Gabbar's role were the juiciest ones. Amitabh Bachhan and Sanjeev Kumar wanted to play Gabbar. Dharmendra wanted to play the Thakur. But he relented when the director informed him that in this case Sanjeev Kumar would play Veeru and get the heroine. Sanjeev had just then proposed marriage to Hema. Dharmendra was in love with her and so it did not take "Paaji" a single moment to go back to the role of Veeru. Danny was the initial choice for Gabbar'.and both Thakur and Gabbar revolved in every aspect of the story of an epic called Sholay.
Shekhar Kapoor puts forward the best description of Sholay when he says "There has never been a more defining film on the Indian screen. Indian film history can be divided into Sholay BC and Sholay AD".
At the end of the movie the audience used to come out very quietly with neither a word of criticism nor of appreciation. Baffling!!. Even the collections had dropped. The theatres started running empty!!
Seeing this non-reaction to the then costliest movie ever made in Hindi cinema, it was initially declared as a flop? The trade pundits fell over each other sniggering about the movie's failure at the box office. Even those involved including its director Ramesh Sippy had written off the movie. Little did the "predictors of doom" realize that the audience was only too stunned to react. Such was the effect of the grandeur of the movie. It picked up very soon and the movie ran continuously for five years thereafter setting new records and also entering the annals of Guinness Books of Records.
Anupama Chopra the author of this book is a special correspondent with India Today magazine. The crisp sentences in the book does give it an impression of a film magazine-gossip style of writing. But the gossip in this book is delicious and not at all malicious in any way. Light reading, interesting tit bits and the book gives a real feel of the logistics involved in making a movie on a grand scale. Also covered are the trepidations and the heartburn involved in movie making.
I feel that this is at-a-stretch read book.
Keemat jo tum chaho, kaam jo mai chaahun'.the titles are interestingly chosen. Snippets of the famous dialogues are used for titles to various chapters. Relevant to the titles are the stories described therein.
The story of the movie was initially only a four lined paragraph which was expanded over a period of time with inspirations drawn from real life situations and incidents. The "four-lines" changed several hands before settling in the capable megaphone of the director Ramesh Sippy.
The role of writers in producing a powerful story is interestingly presented in the book. How were the characters conceived, the distinctive roles of the two writers Salim and Javed, and of course the inspiration for the famous scenes are described with indulgence.
It was one movie set where each character was in love in real life with some one else. The famous Dharmendra-Hema Malini romance'even the old cameraman Dwarka Divecha falling in love with a local girl!!. Surely the making of Sholay was an event which had long term effects on the lives of the film stars and the technicians involved with the film. It changed their careers forever. Especially Amjad Khan who eventually played Gabbar Singh.
A description of the famous overhead tank scene where Dharmendra threatens Mausi with suicide and Jai attempts at making a proposal of marriage was drawn from a real life scene. This was when Javed was in love with Honey Irani and wanted to marry her. Salim his partner and the lady's mother were against the tie-up between the two. But very reluctantly Salim went on to make a marriage proposal on Javed's behalf and the dialogues between Mausi and Jai were drawn from the actual dialogues between the lady's mother and Salim.
Does draw a smile, these facts behind dialogue writing.
The technical aspects of filming are also covered in some detail. Facts involved in various scenes and the technical difficulties are presented in an easy lucid form.
All this gives a feeling of being present at the various locations of the movie. But one could only wish that there were more such tit bits especially about why the famous pair of writers eventually split up.
But all said and done a very readable book at a very affordable price.