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The film that inspired Sholay

The film that inspired Sholay
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The journeys of a few film directors in Hindi cinema are fascinating. Especially when they did not enter the industry wanting to be one. The case of...

The journeys of a few film directors in Hindi cinema are fascinating. Especially when they did not enter the industry wanting to be one. The case of Raj Khosla (1925-1991) is one such.

With his interest in classical music, Khosla wanted to be a singer yet fate had different designs for him. It was the legendary Dev Anand who saw that he could be a good director and asked him to assist Guru Dutt. In a very short span, Khosla impressed his backers with the latter even agreeing to produce a film within the first few years of his entry into the industry.

‘CID’, released in 1956, erased the failure of Raj Khosla’s debut venture in 1954 and catapulted him into the fast lane. In the 20-odd films that he directed between 1954 and 1984, he is credited with two different tracks of achievements. His films had crime and mystery, yet had a lot of space for his heroines to be seen for their characterisations and strong onscreen performances.

In the 70s, his film ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’ released in 1971, a runaway hit starring Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna, in which Khanna played the dashing dacoit is believed to have been the inspiration for a similar such venture with a Hollywood twist by GP Sippy. ‘Sholay’ was released four years later and people saw similarities in the role of the antagonist who was named Jabbar Singh in Khosla’s venture while being christened Gabbar Singh in the Ramesh Sippy film! Like his mentor, Khosla too fell to alcohol addiction as his films started crashing in the final decade of his life. He was born on May 31, 93 years ago.

A similar tale is of Subodh Mukherjee (1921-2005), uncle of actress Kajol, who was a great showman with his films (11 films made between 1955 to 1985). He has a great collection of hits beginning with ‘Munimji’, ‘Junglee’ and ‘Sharmeelee’ which are still known for its melodious songs. Yet unable to adapt to the swiftly changing times of the 1970s and the 80s, he quit filmmaking. He died on May 21, 13 years ago.

Majrooh Sultanpuri, Mehboob Khan and Anil Krishna Biswas are the other three big names who died this week, about whom earlier columns had carried glowing tributes.

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