Last week marked 40 years since Sholay was unleashed on the world. I wanted to write something to mark the occasion, but it wasn't easy to think of something that I, a novice, could say about Sholay that hadn't already been said, and better, by others.
My own post on it is one of the ancient posts that embarrasses me today. It was written long ago, before there even was a Filmi Geek blog to post it on. It's not written for you; it's written for people who have never heard of the film. It doesn't say much of anything at all.
Since then I've watched Sholay itself about half a dozen more times, not to mention 400 or so other films from India, and today what I know about Sholay is that I don't know enough to really talk originally about Sholay. I can see its influences for myself, but what I know of its impact on Hindi films and its place in the popular culture of India, I have learned from others. So how could I mark its milestone in a way that anyone would care about?
Then I remembered a chat I had a few months back with Diptakriti Chaudhuri, author of fun compendia of trivia like Bollybook and Kitnay Aadmi Thay. He was working on a new book and had asked me what I thought of the women of Salim-Javed movies. That conversation gave me some thoughts that I filed away as a potential essay topic for later.
And with the 40th anniversary of Sholay, I realized, "later" was now. So here is my latest column in Outlook, all about the agentive and richly-drawn characters of Salim-Javed movies.
Before that, my previous Outlook column had been about my personal voyage from revulsion to, well, toleration of Rajesh Khanna. I submitted that piece not without a small sense of trepidation, because Rajesh Khanna has a cadre of fans so loyal that even the very idea idea that someone might not share their opinion of the star drives them to rageful conniption. And indeed, some of the comments on the piece chided me for my ignorance and Outlook for publishing so indiscriminately. One suggested my opinion would change if I watched Anand (even though I had been clear in the column itself that Anand was the principal reason I couldn't stomach Rajesh Khanna at all for so long).
What these sycophants don't seem to understand is that if it weren't for the importance and bright, explosive stardom of Rajesh Khanna I wouldn't have put the effort into trying to understand him as a star or a phenomenon. I wouldn't have watched all those movies, and I wouldn't have written a piece about him at all. It's the usual story - all too often folks don't appreciate the value of difference of opinion. They do not see how much there is to be learned from discussing divergent ideas. They seek instead to silence and quash ideas that make them uncomfortable.
At any rate, the best response by far was in a letter to Outlook that my editor forwarded to me:
So there you go. I feel I have arrived.
The lady Carla, who apparently is preposterous.