Tag Archives: Sholay

Streaming Video News: August 26, 2019

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of additions in the last week, including Sholay. Also new is the Telugu-dubbed version of 2000’s Kandukondain Kandukondain, a Tamil retelling of Sense and Sensibility starring Tabu and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The most notable recent release is the Tiger Shroff-Ananya Panday flick Student of the Year 2, which is actually pretty good. Other newly added 2019 films include:

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because Taapsee Pannu’s 2019 thriller Game Over is available for streaming in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Other new additions include the 2019 Marathi release Saavat and the Punjabi movies Kaake Da Viyah and Marriage Palace.

Seven Hindi and Malayalam titles are set to expire from Netflix on September 1:

In other Netflix news, Article 15 debuted on Netflix in India on August 24, but it won’t be available for streaming in the United States until September 6.

Retro Review: Sholay (1975)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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I’ve seen a lot of recent Hindi movies, but I knew my Bollywood education was incomplete until I saw Sholay. After watching the nearly three-and-a-half hour behemoth, I understand why it’s a classic. But that doesn’t mean it’s a movie without flaws.

Sholay (“Embers”) is the preeminent example of the “curry western,” the Indian version of the “spaghetti western” popular in the United States in the mid-1960s. Its story and style borrow liberally from films like The Magnificent Seven and Once Upon a Time in the West.

Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan play thieves recruited by one of their former jailers, Thakur (Sanjeev Kumar), to capture a bandit leader. This bandit murdered the jailer’s family and has spent the subsequent years robbing the jailer’s poor village. Veeru (Dharmendra) and Jai (Bachchan) initially agree to the job for the reward money but fall in love with two women from the village, giving them added incentive to succeed.

At its best, Sholay is an exciting action film. An early chase scene in which a coal-fired train is pursued by bandits on horseback contains some amazing cinematography. The camera cuts from static long shots of bad guys falling from their horses to a dynamic shot from Jai’s point of view as he rolls onto his back to fire at an assailant approaching from above.

Another highlight is the romance between Jai and Radha (Jaya Bhaduri), Thakur’s widowed daughter-in-law. Unlike the heroine in Once Upon a Time in the West, who tries to fulfill her deceased husband’s dream of building a railroad depot, Radha’s widowhood renders her a virtual ghost. She seems expected to exist in perpetual mourning, executing her household chores in silence. The longing looks between Radha and Jai defy social convention, adding poignancy.

But Sholay has one undeniable flaw: it’s too long. To justify a runtime of approximately 200 minutes, every shot needs to feel essential. Sholay doesn’t meet that standard.

There’s a lengthy sequence early in the movie that involves Jai and Veeru getting intentionally thrown in jail, only to break out and split the reward money with the pal who turned them in. The sequence is supposed to be funny as the thieves trick their high-stepping jailer with a Hitler mustache, but the jokes feel forced and the Hitler references a bit too casual.

Another failed comic device is plucky horse-cart driver Basanti (Hema Malini), Veeru’s love interest. She has a few touching moments, but she’s written to be annoying. The problem with deliberately annoying movie characters is that they annoy the audience as well as their fellow characters.

While many of the songs in Sholay are memorable — “Yeh Dosti” and “Mehbooba Mehbooba” in particular — their accompanying dance numbers bring the action to a halt.

The movie’s final battle is completely preposterous but is executed in a way that elevates it to campy art. For that reason alone, it’s hard to dislike Sholay. It’s certainly a classic, but it’s not a film for Bollywood newcomers.

Movie Review: Dhoondte Reh Jaoge (2009)

drj1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Dhoondte Reh Jaoge is a boring, immature remake of Mel Brooks’ The Producers. Skip it unless you’re an avid Bollywood fan, and even then, keep your expectations low.

As in Brooks’ movie, a washed-up producer and a penniless accountant try to swindle their investors out of money by making a film guaranteed to flop. Considering that the duo spend the first forty minutes of the film trying to get each other arrested, there’s no reason for the two of them to work together — except that the plot demands it.

The pair hire a Pakistani nationalist to write a film with political undertones, certain to outrage the Indian public. The writer combines plot elements from Bollywood hits like Sholay, Lagaan and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge into an absurd story, further hampering the film’s chances for success.

There are a few amusing scenes in the film-within-the-film, such as the Lagaan-inspired cricket match ending. But the scenes are only funny if you’ve seen the movies being lampooned. The rest of Dhoondte Reh Jaoge is slow, and the jokes are more offensive than they are funny.

Save a few bucks and rent the original version of The Producers.