RADHA BECOMES DEVI, BASANTI GHUNGHROO IN RGV'S SHOLAY
By P Shukla - Eye TV India Bureau
Heads have started rolling following a court dispute over the remake of super hit film 'Sholay'. Noted director Ram Gopal Varma has decided to change the characters of his remake of Ramesh Sippy directed 'Sholay'. Ramu has titled it 'Ram Gopal Varma Ke Sholay'. His move generated a huge hype when looks of new Gabbar were launched recently in Mumbai. Being made as a joint venture between Ram Gopal Varma's company and Adlabs, 'Ram Gopal Varma Ke Sholay' is the story of two young street-smart boys who take on a challenge to capture a dreaded don for a police officer who wants to take revenge from this don for killing his family..
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Released on August 15th in 1975 'Sholay' was initially rejected by critics and almost sent to trash before it gathered the momentum and went to become one of the biggest hits of Indian film industry. The film in fact ran for six continuous years in Minerva theatre of Bombay. It was the first film that celebrated silver jubilee in more than 100 cinema halls all over India. It was also a film that was in the news for the reason that its main lead characters wanted to do other characters than allotted to them. For example, he-man Dharmendra was hell bent to play Thakur, the police officer, and not Viru, the small time conman. Director Ramesh Sippy had to explain to him that if Sanjeev Kumar plays Viru and not the Thakur, then Sanjeev will get Basanti (Hema Malini). However, such was the love for Hema in Dharam's heart that he could not see even Sanjeev Kumar getting his beloved on screen. And, Amitabh Bachchan who wished to play Gabbar in Sippy's 'Sholay' from day one has got a chance to fulfill his long cherished wish after 31 years in its remake.
And, before the most hated villain of Hindi cinema could see its return, controversies have overtaken headlines. Grandsons of G P Sippy and owner of Sippy Films have filed a suit in the Delhi High Court seeking an order to refrain Ram Gopal Varma and others from using the names of characters from his classic 'Sholay'. Sasha Sippy claims that he has not only got registered the name 'Sholay' under copyright Act but also its characters -- Jai, Viru, Radha, Basanti and Gabbar. Ram Gopal Varma took the precaution to name his film as 'Ram Gopal Varma Ke Sholay' and not just 'Sholay'. He has also claimed that he had taken remake rights from G P Sippy's son Ajit. But Sasha says that Ajit has no legal rights to do so. As the date of hearing of the case is nearing, Ram Gopal Varma has taken serious note of the interim order passed by the court. He has started renaming the characters of 'Sholay'. Now, Radha will be Devi and Jai will speak "Tumhara Naam kya hai Ghunghroo" ( not Basanti ). So, Radha becomes Devi and Basanti Ghunghroo. Ram Gopal Varma has also announced that Sushmita Sen will play Devi and not Katrina Kaif, as stated earlier. He also confirms that Esha Deol is not the part of his Sholay. In fact, his favorite Nisha Kothari will play Ghunghroo. However, he is still silent on the new names of Jai, Viru and Thakur. In most probability, Gabbar's name will not be changed as a good sum of shoot has already taken place with this name. Amitabh Bachchan plays Gabbar. Ram Gopal Varma has moved the story of Sholay from the ravines of Ram Garh to the streets of Mumbai and his Sholay will have a new look.
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We may recall that 'Sholay' is the first film in Indian film history that got it climax changed after the objections by Censor Board. And, it is also the only film that has inspired more than a dozen films in different languages in India. Besides, its writers, Salim-Javed took this story first to masala moviemaker Man Mohan Desai but he was busy with his 'Chacha Bhatija'. Otherwise Desai would have directed Sippy's 'Sholay'. Also, if Danny was not shooting for 'Dhramatma' in Afghanistan, he would have been the tobacco-chewing gun trotting Gabbar in 'Sholay'. All said and done, but such is the craze for this film among the Indian audience that it still makes news everywhere. These days a Rajasthani adaptation of 'Sholay' is being shot near Jaipur, and Ekta Kapoor has just announced to make 'Sholay' in Bhojpuri too where his father and also famous actor Jeetendra will play Thakur. 'Sholay's story was also a major hit in the recently concluded Navratri festival when a Jatra group of West Bengal performed an all-woman 'Sholay' in different parts of East India. 'Sholay' has also been re-made in Garhwali, Kumaon, Haryanvi and Himachali dialects.
It is an irony that when 'Sholay' was released in 1975, Ram Gopal Varma used to stand in queue in front of a theatre in Hyderabad to buy tickets and he did so thirty times! Now, he wants the same theatre to show 'Ram Gopal Varma Ke Sholay'. His dream may come true by next year when his version of 'Sholay' sees the light of the day. It is also interesting to note that Sholay's story has inspired more films like 'Honeymoon Gabbar Ka', 'Dhanno Dhabe Wali', 'Malegaon Ke Sholay' and 'Ramgarh Ke Sholay'.