Ramesh Sippy: Imprudent to remake 'Sholay'

Director Ramesh Sippy, who set a benchmark in Hindi cinema with 'Sholay', is against the remake of the popular cult-classic, which turns 40 this week.

Ramesh Sippy
Ramesh Sippy

Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, who attempted the remake of the timeless movie as "Aag" with Amitabh Bachchan, south star Mohanlal, Ajay Devgan, Prashant Raj Sachdev and Sushmita Sen, drew a lot of flak and the movie failed at the box office miserably.

"It is a world full of challenges... they can get the rights... and if one thinks they can make a better film they should go ahead and make it. Those who have made (remake), have failed. I had advised him (RGV) not to make it," Sippy told PTI in an interview here.

"Even I haven't dared to touch it again as people still remember the original 'Sholay'. It is inadvisable to remake it," he said.

"Sholay" is a story of two criminals, Veeru and Jai (played by Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan), who were hired by a retired police officer (Sanjeev Kumar) to capture the dacoit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan). Actresses Hema Malini and Jaya Badhuri played Veeru and Jai's love interests.

The action-adventure directed by Ramesh Sippy and produced by his father G P Sippy is a landmark film having crossed all popularity milestones. It is also one of the most-watched Bollywood film.

"While I was making the film I did not think it will have such an impact on audience. Our intention was to make a good film and we worked very hard for it. It had so many firsts--big talented actors coming together, we had action guys coming from England and Italy and others," Sippy said.

Sippy, who released the film on August 15, 1975 took quite a lot of time to make "Sholay" as he wanted everything to be perfect.

It was shot in the rocky terrain of Ramanagar, in the southern state of Karnataka, over a span of two and a half years.

Sippy's producer father was generous enough not to remind his son about the film going over budget.

"My father never reminded me of the budget shooting up.

There were no corporates sitting on my head. There were several problems that we faced... we overcame it. But we were patient," he said.

As years passed by, apart form the iconic characters - Jai, Veeru, Thakur, Gabbar, Basanti, Kalia, Sambha and Rahim Chacha - dialogues like "Yeh Haath Mujhe De De Thakur", "Basanti In Kutto Ke Saamne Nahi Nachna", "It's Sannata Kyu Hai Bhai", "Kitna Aadmi Thay" became timeless.

But this was not the original cast. Initially, Shatrughan Sinha was to play Jai's role, Danny Dengzongpa was finalised as Gabbar and Pran was considered for Thakur's part.

"There were lot of actors we had thought about while making 'Sholay' but we are happy with the final casting. We had signed Danny for the role of Gabbar but things did not work out," Sippy said.

When released, "Sholay" did not receive a good response initially but favourable word-of-mouth publicity helped it to become a huge box office success.

"I am overwhelmed when people say sweet things, remember 'Sholay'. I am humbled by the praise," Sippy said.

"Sholay", which hit the screens for the first time in 1975, celebrates 40 years on August 15.

"The National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Sholay". I would be there," Sippy said.

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