Sholay was the first movie I saw with Shivaji. OK Let me start at the beginning. The KMR family migrated to Chennai from Mahabalipuram in the summer of 1973 and we joined Anjuham High School (Vasanthy, JK and I) and Mohan joined a primary school nearby. I joined in the seventh class and soon became friends with Mohan Ram, Shivaji and Venkatesh. They were all toppers in the class and I am not able to recall how they admitted me in their circle. Suffice to say we became friends and I even played my first cricket match with them against VII C. VII A Vs VII C – My First Cricket Match. . I have introduced Shivaji in this blog as our star leg spin bowler.
When Sholay was released, the quartet were in Class VIII and Shivaji suggested that we should see the movie together. We made elaborate plans to go see the movie on a Sunday. And thus story of us going to the movie actually became a bigger story than Sholay itself. For those who have not seen or heard the story of the movie (unlikely though), here is a brief:
- Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan are small time thieves and friends.
- Sanjeev Kumar is an upright police officer and he catches a dacoit – Amjad Khan, his character is called Gabbar Singh. The only character name you need to remember. Sanjeev Kumar Catches him, arrests him and handcuffs him. Important to remember the handcuff part.
- Well Gabbar Singh escapes from prison and in a rage kills the entire extended family of Sanjeev Kumar, the police officer.
- Sanjeev Kumar returns from duty, sees the carnage, vows to capture Gabbar but he is captured by Gabbar Singh who cuts both his hands which the police officer handcuffed in the first place.
- Vowing a second revenge, Sanjeev finds these small time thieves (Amitabh and Dharmendra) gives them the job of capturing the dacoit – Gabbar Singh.
- After lot of romance, dance sequences, songs, fights and calls for revenge from both sides, the dacoit is captured. End of story.
Our story was bit longer and more adventurous. First we had to take permission from parents and Mohan Ram failed to do so and dropped out. My father said we should rather watch Towering Inferno or Poseidon Adventure (I don’t remember which one). We would n’t have understood either Hindi or English but that’s another story. I convinced him and so did Shivaji and Venkatesh their respective parents.
I was thrilled to say the least. More than the movie, I was excited about seeing a movie for the first time in a proper cinema hall. Sathyam theatre was one of the best in town. We were also taking a bus from suburb to the city first time on our own. And the movie was shot in 70 mm and of course first time I was going to watch a film with friends.
And then disaster struck. We had planned for the matinee show at 3.45 PM in the afternoon and on the Sunday morning, Venkatesh’s mother decided to give him an oil bath. Nor knowing it was a trap Venkatesh agreed, After the bath, his mom (or grandma) simply said he can’t go out of the house after an oil bath. When we (Shivaji and I) went to collect him, he was crying and amidst the series of sobs told us he can’t join us. So we proceeded without him, got into the bus, got down at a wrong stop, walked back, stood in the queue for two hours, got tickets (1.55 Rs) and started watching the movie in awe.
When we came out during intermission for getting a snack, we saw to our surprise, Venkatesh standing in the queue for 6.45 PM show. When asked he said he just didn’t stop crying since morning and his mom decided that the after effects of going out after an oil bath will be less dangerous than his continuous crying and relented. When he reached the theatre, the tickets for the matinee was sold out, so he decided to just continue standing in the queue for the evening show. That is some determination to see a movie of which you don’t understand a single line of dialogue.
Let’s get back to the movie. It was my cousin Murali Rajamani who first talked about the movie. He said it’s a complete movie, first of kind in Indian Cinema. The movie had an amazing cinematography. I can’t talk about dialogues because I didn’t understand any. Those famous dialogues like, “Kitne Aatmi The” etc I understood more than 15 years later. But when the train moved we felt it was coming at us. When Dharmendra figures out that Amitabh used a coin which had heads on both sides (after Amitabh’s death) and throws the coin out, we felt coin landed under our feet and searched for it. Stereophonic effect was so good. The songs were good, the visuals grand, the fights realistic. and the comedy was decent. It still remains the greatest entertainer in Hindi cinema,
If we agree to forget couple of things like:
- The town sorry village doesn’t have electricity but has huge water tank. May be they had built a huge ramp at the back and used mules to carry water up. Dharmendra doesn’t wonder why water tank is there when he attempts a mock suicide from the top of the tank.
- Hema Malini (in the movie) has a rare blood group not known to science. When she was asked to dance over broken glass bottles she spills orange colour blood all over the floor.
That’s OK. The movie is definitely one of the best entertainer made in India. The Train fight scene is a classic example superb camera work and slick editing. Just remember the movie was made in 1974.
The Sholay saga would have remained just as footnote in our movie going experience had Shivaji not found a way to secure funds for movie tickets and snacks. He accidentally found out how his elder brothers managed funds when they ran out of pocket money during their college days. The Hindu (the most revered newspaper for the TamBram community) was published in good quality paper and had more pages per issue than its competitors. Just five days of issues, when given to old newspaper shop gave enough money for two movie tickets at the local cinema and two Masal Dosas.
Shivaji found this out when we were in Class X. So we saw some hit movies with this new found wealth. When the money was just enough for movie tickets we just came to my place and my grandma (not the autocrat one, my mother’s mother) made some delicious evening tiffin for us.
Thus we saw movies from Aadu puli aattam, to Aatukara Alamelu, to Aval Appadithan from Ilamai Oonjaladukirathu to Priya, from Varumayin Niram Sigappu to Zamane Ko Dikana Hai. When there were no Kamal Hassan, Rajni or Sripriya movies, we watched old Jaishankar films (known as James Bond of South). The Jaishankar movies were known for the fight sequences and impossible camera angles from one of the two cinematographers Karnan or Vincent.
We did not stop at seeing movies. We talked about movies and other interests (cricket, some politics and about our favourite actress those days; Sripriya). Sripriya featured in most of the movies we saw and remained an heartthrob or dream girl for couple of years. We lived in Postal Colony, Shivaji in 1st Street and Yours Truly in the 4th. The routine was, either I went to his place or he came to mine and after chatting for hours we would walk together and stand at the junction of 3rd Street and talked for couple of hours standing under the transformer. Thanks to Google, I am able to provide a visual of the place we grew up.
We were smart enough not to get caught as we always saw the movies in the afternoon and came home before sunset. We also could lie with some conviction. Most of the trash we saw were during study holidays before school final exams. One movie Aatukara Alamelu (The Goatherd Alamelu) was released in a distant suburb, Aynavaram. Not wanting to miss the Sripriya movie, I told my grandma that Shivaji and I are going to Aynavaram to Shivaji’s Cousin’s place to work on some problems in Mathematics and Shivaji told his mom that we were going to my cousin’s place in Aynavaram. I am not sure if my Grandma believed the story. She allowed me anyway.
We continued with this watching trash till first year of College. Then we kind of drifted as I found out new things of interest in life like good books and good cinema etc. The last movie the four of us saw together was Vazhve Mayam (life is an illusion). I have written a small blog on this. Life is an Illusion – Vaazhve Maayam.
Shivaji became a salesman before I became one. He still remains as simple as he was in school days. Nowadays, we catch up mainly over phone and as it happens with good friends we can talk for hours without looking to break ice even if the call is made after a year or two,
The Sholay story did not end there. During the summer vacation of 1979 we both went to Mumbai. Sholay was still running in Minerva Theatre in Mumbai (Record five years and some months). By the time Shivaji had passed his first exam in Hindi (Prathmic) and I thought he would be able to translate every dialogue for me. Nothing of that sort happened. We still drew blank. Before we went to Mumbai, we took a photograph in a studio dressed up like Kamal and Rajnikanth. I preserved the photo for many years and then lost it. Before I sat out to write this blog, I asked Shivaji if he still had a copy of that famous photo. He did not even remember when he last saw it. That put paid to any hopes of inserting the epic photo into this blog. All I could manage is this:
It is only prophetic we saw Sholay, a movie more than anything else, is about Friendship together first time. Just like Jai and Viru (Amitabh and Dharmendra) our friendship stood the test of time. Just their friendship was formed over small time robberies, ours got strengthened over stealing few issues of over issue newspapers.
A toast to our friendship Shivaji. Enjoy the song. We will not break this Friendship.
Suggested Blogs on School Days
VII A Vs VII C – My First Cricket Match
Temples & Test Scores – Growing Up in Madras.
கருமாரி அம்மன் கோவிலும் கணக்கு மார்க்கும் – சென்னை நாட்கள்.
Eye Witness – Movie with Mohan Ram.
Ninaithale Inikkum – 1979. An Affair to Remember…
நாம் சினிமா பார்ப்பதற்கு எவ்வளவு கஷ்ட்டப்பட்டோம் என்பதை சொன்னால் இப்போதைய தலைமுறைக்கு ஆச்சர்யமாக இருக்கும்,நம் தலைமுறை தான் பெற்றோர்களுக்கும்,பிள்ளைகளுக்கும் கட்டுப்படும் சாபம் பெற்றவர்கள் 😊
நம் வீட்டில் சினிமா பார்ப்பதற்கு பர்மிஷன் வாங்குவதும் அரசு அலுவலகங்களில் ஃபைல் மூவ் ஆவதும் ஒன்று தான் 😁
அப்படியே வீட்டில் அனுமதித்தாலும் டிக்கட் கிடைப்பதும் குதிரை கொம்பாக தான் இருந்தது,நாம் வரிசையில் நிற்கிற போது சுவர் மேல் ஏறிச்சென்று டிக்கட் வாங்கியவர்களும் உண்டு
நான் ஷோலே கொஞ்சம் லேட்டாக பார்த்ததினால் மொழி பிரச்சினை இல்லை,முன்பே பார்த்தவர்கள் எல்லா சீன்களையும் விவரித்து விட்டதால் புரிந்துகொள்ள முடிந்தது,அந்த படம் பார்த்த பின் எனக்கு தர்மேந்திராவை பிடித்து விட்டது
+2 படிக்கும் நானும் மோகன்ராமும் வண்டிச்சக்கரம் படத்திற்கு போனோம்,நான் அழைத்த போது என்னடா பேரே வண்டிச்சக்கரம் என்றிருக்கிறது இந்த படத்திற்கு போகனுமான்னு கேட்டான்,அந்த படத்தில் தான் பின்பு சில்க் என்று ரசிக்கப்பட்ட ஸ்மிதா அறிமுகமானார் 😁
ஒரு சினிமா பார்ப்பதற்கு நாம் எவ்வளவு பிரயாசை பட வேண்டி இருந்தது என்பதை அருமையாக விளக்கி உள்ளாய் சபாஷ் ரமேஷ் 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽