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'Originally, Thakur kills Gabbar Singh'
Bombay, Februay 15, 2001, 1600 hours IST: That Sholay still inspires scores of people was amply proven when Anupama Chopra logged on to take questions on this awesome film.
Ms Anupama Chopra : hi, this is anupama. am here. doing
the first chat of my life
Mohan : Hi Anupama, how come you didn't do a book on the making of Mission Kashmir, with access to inside info it would have been a great read:-) congrats on Sholay
Ms Anupama Chopra : hi mohan,i don't think i would be the right person to do books on vinod's movies. You can't be objective with your husband. Maybe somebody else will think of it soon.
Hari : How come you had Ramgopal Varma talk about the film and what was his reaction like? any anecdote to relate in your meetings with him?
Ms Anupama Chopra : hi hari,ramgopal verma has always talked about how much sholay meant to him, which is why he was one of the people interviewd. It was fascinating because he actually got his first film thanks to sholay. He explained sound cuts from sholay so well that the producers decided to give him his debut movie shiva.
Hari : Anupama, it must have been a BIG gap not to have Gabbar Singh talk about about the film, how did you fill the vaccum left by Amjad Khan?
Ms Anupama Chopra : Absolutely. Gabbar wasn't the only one missing. There was also Sanjeev Kumar and the cinematographer, Dwarka Divecha.. all of whom contributed immensely to the film. But I basically spoke around them. For Gabbar, i talked to his wife Shaila Khan and she was wonderfully co-operative and even tried to find old letters he had written to her from Bangalore. But there is no way to really fill the vaccum.
Arvind : Hi,What ending was actually planned for the movie?
Ms Anupama Chopra : The original end had Sanjeev Kumar crushing Gabbar with his nailed shoes and then breaking down and crying. I have seen it. It really is quite amazing. And I wish they had kept it.
rahul : What inspired you to write a book on this film ? and i guess its the first book of its kind on a movie n India..ain't it ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : Yes. as far as i know it is the first book of its kind in India. But I can't take credit for the idea. That belongs to Rohan, Sona and Sheena Sippy .. Ramesh Sippy's kids who thought it would be the perfect way to commemorate the 25th aniversary.
girijesh : HOW U VISUALISED ABOUT THE MAKING OF A FILM WHERE U WERE NOT A PART OF IT 25 YEARS BACK
Ms Anupama Chopra : that's what being a journalist and story teller is all about. So you talk to people in detail and re-create. My aim was to tell a story atleast half as interesting as the film. Now you decide whether i suceeded.
Princess : Hi Anu, the last scene,where Jaya shuts the window, isone that is etched in my memory...killing jai may have worked at thebo, but why was this love storysnuffed out?
Ms Anupama Chopra : With Jai dead the love story could have hardly continued. Actually they did think about changing the end in the first few weeks after release when everyone had thought that the film had flopped. They thought it might make sense to let a super star like Amitabh live. But Ramesh Sippy decided against it because you have to go away with an ache in your heart. That's part of the beauty of the film.
dhanno : anupama: when will vidhu ever make a movie like shoklay?
Ms Anupama Chopra : dhanno, I hope he does but actually for the last 25 years every director in Bombay has tried to make a movie like Sholay. I am hoping some day somebody succeeds.
Majid : Did Ramesh Sippy talk about the super success of Sholay being a curse for him? His career has been downhill eversince
Ms Anupama Chopra : Yes he did. In fact, it was very moving for me because its really Orson Wells like story. You make one classic and spend the rest of your life trying to match up. But don't forget he also made Buniyaad, the Sholay of the small screen. And I figure if you make one movie like Sholay everything else is forgiven.
shantanu : Do you think art of book writing differs from the art of film making? Do you think your book (FOR A CRITICAL READER) fails to take up the things from where the film ends?
Ms Anupama Chopra : It differs hugely. As an author i am in complete control of the eventual product. while a film maker has to deal with at least 230 people on a daily basis. it's a far far tougher job. not only do you have to be a damn good director you also have to be a leader. shantanu, i am sorry.. i don't understand the second part of your question.
mrcool : but can i ask u which caharacter impressed u most in the movie and why?
Ms Anupama Chopra : that's like asking which eye you like better-- the right or the left. Every character in Sholay is really memorable. But I am partial to Amitabh Bachchan and that love story where he played the harmonica and she put the lamps off. though i have seen the movie dozens of times i still cry every time Bachchan dies.
Panju : Pls tell us some of the best memories related by Amitabh and Dharam?
Ms Anupama Chopra : amitabh told me fascinating stories about of course a) wanting the role badly and not being sure he would be part of it but also about the actual shooting and how he was afraid because it was such a rugged terrain and Jaya was pregnant. So he would drive her to the Thakur's house himself and when i asked him why do you think the film was so successful he said "trains," and talked for several minutes about how trains are so memorable and play such a big part in everyone's life and they unite such a big country. it was a total tangent and really fascinating to listen to. dharmendra of course had lot of naughty stories to tell "hamne bahut shaitaneiyan ki hai" . my favorite is that once after he had been drinking for a while he actually walked from the hotel in bangalore all the way to the location.. an hour away.. and the unit panicked the next morning because they cldn't find him. He was sleeping in one of the make up rooms in ramanagaram.
saikat : Hi Anupama,do you think Vidhu Vionod Chopra has lost some of his cinematic creativity so evident in his earlier films,by succumbing to the listless rituals of Bollywood?
Ms Anupama Chopra : why don't you ask vidhu at his web site and ask me about the book instead :-)
ejourno : if u were given a film to play critic too....and in comparision to the classic Sholay which film would u consider the closest? and why?
Ms Anupama Chopra : i don't think there are too many movies that compare in terms of lasting value and craft. of course the greats-- Mughal-e-azam, mother india-- but somehow sholay always speaks to me louder than anything else. maybe its a generational thing.
gopi : why cant another sholay be made in india again
Ms Anupama Chopra : i think you can't plan to make films like sholay. they just happen. its a configuration of talents and destiny. when sholay was made, huge talents like Sippy, the stars, salim-javed were working at their peak. maybe some day when all the elements come together again we will see another film like sholay
gopi : So what are your future plans anupama, write for movies and direct it
Ms Anupama Chopra : not anytime in the near future. i think making cinema requires a different kind of discipline and i am not sure if i have it. right now i am happy with journalism and books.
premkhumar : If any one other than amitabh acted in this particular movie do u think that it will be successfull as it was?
Ms Anupama Chopra : these are just hypothetical questions that cannot be answered.
Aji : Hi Anupama, I read somewhere that a man without 2 hands can notjump. But in sholey , sanjeev kumar doing that. Did Ramesh happned to talkabout that?
Ms Anupama Chopra : no. ramesh sippy didn't talk about it. but if in fact men without hands cannnot jump, i suppose its artistic license in films that they took. :-)
rakesh : Hi Anupama, you have done a great job. But I am afraid your book can be enjoyed only by the english speaking Indians. Do you plan to translate it in Hindi and other Indian languages?
Ms Anupama Chopra : actually, we are currently looking at having the book published in hindi and abroad. i think its a film that means something to most indians everywhere.
chins : what do you thing was the most touching moment in Sholay ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : for me, it is when jaya breaks down on sanjeev's shoulder while amitabh's funeral pyre burns in the background and then you just see her shutting the window.
ninad : hi anupama !i have heard that the actual camerawork was handled by some foreign technician and not dwaraka divecha ? is that true ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : actually foreign technicians worked on the action sequences. but dwaraka divecha was the chief cinematographer.
ninad : was there any major accidents during the action sequences' shoot ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : no. the foreign technicians brought in for the first time lots of safety equipment and also taught the indian stuntmen how to break their falls. but the horses drove a lot of actors crazy. Viju Khote almost quit because he cldn't handle the horses.
amar : anupama, is it true that when sholay was first released, it was almost a disaster, but as time passed, mouth publicity caught on, and more and more people started coming to watch, and then slowly and slowly the dialogues became, and then the rest is history...i want to asked if SHOLEY WAS SAVED FROM BEING A FLOP AND THEN WENT ON TO BECOME A LEGEND
Ms Anupama Chopra : yes. it is true that the film was panned by critics and the trade predicted that it would be a disaster. but word of mouth publicity specially in the 70 mm theatres built a momentum that continues even today. but if you mean that it was rigged and saved from becoming a flop then no.
RajKP : Anu how did the producer earn after making film Sholay?
Ms Anupama Chopra : the producer G P Sippy is still earning from Sholay. In fact, there used to be a joke that everyone the Sippy's needed money they would release Sholay at the nearest theatre.
spanda : Hi anupama, Can you tell me where the movie has been shot
Ms Anupama Chopra : the film was shot in a village called ramanagaram which is about one hour out of bangalore.
ninad : did you advise ramesh sippy not to start a sequel of sholaybecause all that will not be appreciated by die hard fans like me. if you haven't, pls do that immediately !!!
Ms Anupama Chopra : actually ramesh sippy has nothing to do with the sequel. it's being made by his father G P Sippy and his nephew Sascha Sippy. But i completely agree with you .. i don't think any sequel will match up.
viv : How sholay has become so popular. any specific resoan which contributed for this success ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : i don't think we can pin point any specific reasons for success. there is so many elements in a movie. script, acting, dialogue, craft and in this film each one came together perfectly. but if we could figure out what makes it so magical we would have been able to replicate it. and no one's managed that so far..not even ramesh sippy.
RahulPandita : Do u think the book will sell?
Ms Anupama Chopra : i hope it does. i think there's too few books on hindi mainstream cinema. its such a big industry with so much influence on every aspect of our lives. if one book does well, it might encourage other authors to take bollywood seriously.
Naman : ANU, what do you know about the quawwali which was deleted from the final cut?
Ms Anupama Chopra : yeah. there was a qawwalli. actually it was what's called a "char bhand", which is a quawwali between 4 ppl. it's an art form specific to bhopal and was suggested by javed akhtar. it was recorded and anand bakshi was one of the singers. but the film was already too long so the quawwali was never picturised. and anand bakshi still says had it been he might have a career as a singer.
k-venkat : Hi Anupama!tell me,how easy or how difficult was writing a book on a commercial classic like Sholay?
Ms Anupama Chopra : writing a book is never easy. specially a non-fiction book in india bcoz there is no money in it. so you really have to do it out of love. for me it was an extremely difficult but enjoyable task bcoz sholay is one of my fav movies.
amitkakani : amit asked, what was the controversy regarding amjad saab?
Ms Anupama Chopra : one was about his voice. his voice was never the kind of baritone that villans are supposed to have and salim-javed suggested having it dubbed. as it is everyone thought that he was a new actor against 3 major stars. and they were calling it "ek chuha aur teen maharathi". the suggestion to dub really broke amjad's heart but ramesh sippy didn't go for it. he was convinced that amjad's slightly sing song voice added to the character. of course the happy ending is eventually gabbar's dialogues became the most popular and his voice played across the country.
subhashmb : How did a rank ousider and a new comer like Amjad got his role ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : actually, danny was supposed to play gabbar but he opted out bcoz there was a date clash. then salim-javed suggested the name of amjad khan. he did the screen test and ramesh sippy thought he was perfect.
amitkakani : amit asked, did amitabh begged for the role as producers thinking he was not eligible for that role?
Ms Anupama Chopra : no i don't think amitabh has ever had to beg for anything. but he did lobby for the role and he asked dharamendra who was the biggest star then to put in a good word for him.
Naman : ANU: Any plans for a UK edition? Otherwise why don't you get in touch with Andrew Locket, Head of Publishing at the British Film Institute. They have this BFI Modern Classics series and Sholay would fit in very well. The bfi has a major south Asia push coming up in 2002 and your book could be a part of that...
Ms Anupama Chopra : naman, thanks for the suggestion. give me his address. we are scouting for a foreign publisher. i will check it out. thanks for the tip.
subhashmb : Amzingly enough it is one film where even small characters are remembered. Did you get a chance to interact with some of those AK Hangal, Sachin, Sambha, Kaliya ? What did they think of their contribution ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : absolutely. i interviewd everybody including the guy who drove the train in the first sequence. that's the beauty of the film that even the minor players had such memorable roles.
ninad1 : who did the dress design for the film ? especially the denims of jay and veeru ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : actually G P Sippy decided tat unlike other dacoit movies of the time this one would not be peopled by dhoti clad guys. so they all put their heads together and figured out gabbar's army fatigues and bachchan's jeans. bachchan had originally put a lot of stickers on the jeans. but ramesh sippy made him take it out. if you notice most characters wear the same clothes through the whole film. only basanti gets to change.
Naman : ANU: his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org cc a copy to email@example.com . Cary's the Project leader for Cultural Diversity. Say that you want your book to be a part of ``South Asia 2002''. Send Andrew an email and follow up with a letter to the bfi @ 21, Stephen Street, London W1p 2LN. Phone: +44 (0)20 7255 1444.
Ms Anupama Chopra : a big big thank you naman. i hope this works.
subhashmb : Did you get a chance to visit Ramnagaram and talk to some of the locals about the impact the film has made ?
Ms Anupama Chopra : no. but i really wanted to. i think they must have the most incredible stories to tell. but we simply didn't have the budgets for that.
spanda : hi anupama how many times you have seen sholay
Ms Anupama Chopra : actually, i don't know. i have seen it in bits and pieces over and over and over again.
Ms Anupama Chopra : thank you for all your questions. i hope you guys have an opportunity to read the book. and i hope you enjoy it. thanks and bye.
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