September 25, 2006

Sholay - both sides now

Wohooo. They really did. They screened the censored version of Sholay tonight at the indian film week. I so hoped they would.

But let me start at the beginning. When I started to spend most of my worldy assets for Bollywood DVDs about 2 years ago, one of the first ones I got was of course Sholay. Problem tha ki Subtitles bahut kharab the. In fact they just did not work after about the first 30 minutes. It took me until this summer that I finally had enough and bought it a second time to finally be able to enjoy it in full.
Then during the short summer vacation I read Anupama Chopra´s "Sholay- the making of the classic". And then it got interesting but confusing. In both my DVDs Gabbar gets killed by the Thakur. Which is, as I learned from the book, the original ending that is supposed to be very hard to find and if, only on bootleged DVDs.

As you might recall Sholay was originally released in 1975 during the State of Emergency in India. And according to the book, the Censorboard was not happy with the movies climax. It particulary had a problem with the Thakur taking the law into his own hands and the police being a no-show in the fight against Gabbar. Not the best or most educationally worthwhile painted picture of the law-enforcement community in political instable times like these. So they forced Ramesh Sippy to re-shoot the scene having it end with the police showing up, giving some lectures on the importance of abiding the law and stop the Thakur before "doing the wrong thing".
Sippy was quite unhappy but it was the only way the movie would pass. So, again according to the book, the indian and later the international audience had to make do with an emotionally way weaker climax. Funny thing was though. For me the climax always ended with Gabbars death aka the uncensored version. The book telling me I have DVDs with an end that is supposed to be very hard to get was kind of confusing. And it made me curious to get my hands on the clipped version. HAH. And tonight I finally got it. And its really so less satisfying. I pity all who have not had a chance to watch the breakdown of the Thakur after Gabbar is dead. Fan-tas-tic!

PS: The DVD with the original ending and the working subtitles is the Eros release from 2000. I got mine from nehaflix.
PPS: I still claim I know Sholay from years ago. Like the 80ies or so. I will have to bother my contacts (who have nothing to do with TV programming - but they are as close to the knowing people as I can get) at the ORF (Austrian Broadcast Cooperation) and make them find out it Sholay was ever played on TV in Austria (finding out for Germany will be harder) because this is the only place I could have seen it.

EDIT 28/9/06: Ok, so it was not the ORF and it was not the 80ies. The German/French Channel ARTE aired it (a censored version) once only on August 14th, 1997.

PPPS: What climax have you seen? And I´m especially curious if the original ending is being shown in India? And if, since when. The book is from 2000 as well. So back then it still must have been the censored climax...


Anonymous said...

I had no idea about that. The version I *cough* downloaded *cough* has perfectly operational subtitles and has the police speeches and all that. Thakur doesn't kill whats-his-face.

babasko said...

Cool, hai naa? :-)

Katrin said...

The first version I (consciously) saw was the EROS-DVD with the uncensored ending. However, I felt as if I had seen at least bits of the film before. It seemed very familiar to me. Somebody in Marco's forum once said that the film was shown a few years ago on arte if I remember correctly. (Don't ask me who said that and where exactly ...)
I only saw the cinematic ending a few weeks ago on the French DVD (which is really well done by the way!) because that one only includes that ending. And I have to agree: it isn't even half as good as the ending Sippy originally shot. The impact of the film is a lot weaker and as you said its a lot less satisfying.

Maja said...

I saw the original "director's cut" ending too, I didn't know there were different versions! I can't imagine it ending any other way than with the Thakur killing Gabbar.

babasko said...

well it has not been played on ORF (just got back from the phone with their program-archive) :-(
next step.. i´ll contact ARTE :-) the german subtitle version would fit into that scheme

babasko said...

now that was quick :-)

Sholay was played by ARTE on August 14th 1997 with German Subtitles under the Name "Sholay - Flammen der Sonne" (flames of the sun)

v9y said...

And its really so less satisfying. I pity all who have not had a chance to watch the breakdown of the Thakur after Gabbar is dead.

I agree with you that it is so less satisfying, but that's the version almost everyone who has seen Sholay in theatres (even TV) has seen. I saw the alternate ending only on the DVD you mention. Boy! How I wished Gabbar to be killed, especially knowing that "duniyaa kii kisii jail kii diiwaar itanii pakkii nahii.n ki gabbar ko biis saal rok sake".

babasko said...

*g* right. some guys just can´t be locked up for good...i really wonder if the is a cinema copy around somewhere with the original ending. now that would be cool.

which poses another question:
can you re-apply a film for certification of the censor board that already has been certified in the past?

SPM said...

Discovered your blog from Beth's blog! Really interestig reading.

Thought of leaving a bit of a footprint to let you know that I was here. And to share my own views when I saw Sholay some time back, when it was re-released. Here's what I thought of that experience:

Oh, by the way, Sholay is number 1 on my all-time best movies list.

babasko said...

Thanx for stopping by SPM. Your Post from back then is very interesting.
I cant say that Sholay is my no.1 all time favorite but I have it in my top-ten list that actually has no rating. There are so many cool films that all are so different, that I find I cant really compare them in rating.

Anonymous said...

I love 'Sholay'! - so much! Never knew about the alternate ending, this is really intriguing. Glad I got to see the Thakur break down, though. Your blog is really cool. I've enjoyed my visit, and will definitely be stopping by again... Stop by mine if you feel like:

./ said...

Btw can u tell me the link in nehaflis from where u got the Sholay DVD with alternate ending.
The one i got is

So please confirm me if this is the one for i have been looking for this for a long time

babasko said...

yup. the eros/ultra one thats the DVD i have. here gabbar gets killed :)