Sholay is a phenomenal movie that can perhaps never be remade in Indian cinema. It abides by a simple storyline that follows Thakur Baldev Singh, a retired policeman who hires two ex-convicts, Jai and Veeru to capture Gabbar Singh, a notorious bandit, to avenge the death of his family.
Even though the storyline seems cliché, it still has a prevailing impact over the minds of the Indian folks even after 44 years of its release. People appreciate the great star cast and the catchy dialogues of the script but beyond the performance and dialogues, it is the remarkable blend of the Navarasa (9 emotional essences) of the Natya Shastra that drives the characters, dialogues and the entire flow of the script.
Sringara (love) is the ultimate rasa that connects the characters. Although there is love in Jaiand Radha’s and Veeru and Basanti’s relationship, the real essence of love is evoked in the friendship of Jai and Veeru. Veeru’s faith in Jai’s coins shows how strong the bond of friendship can lead to.
Hasya (joy) runs parallel with love. Jai’s witty jokes and his teasing games with Veeru and Basanti facilitates the tone of their relations. The fiery sentiment of Raudra (anger) ignites due to grave injustice against their loved ones; this is the primary reason why Veeru becomes violent after Jai’s death and is ready to kill Gabbar at any cost.
The fiery anger of Veeru rises Bhayanaka (fear) within Gabbar and he steps back. Had Thakur not reminded Veeru about Jai’s promise of handing over Gabbar alive, Veeru would have killed him.
The devastatingly versatile Karuna (compassion) rasa is the driving force of the story and it determines the turning points of the movie. Thakur hires Jai and Veeru because they take him to the hospital after getting injured on the train. After knowing the truth of Thakur’s family, both Jai and Veeru decide not to work for money, rather act out of empathy.
And, Thakur’s character is a pure depiction of the Veera (courage) rasa. From being a fearless policeman in the beginning to fighting Gabbar Singh without his hands, he shines through the entire story with heroism.
Gabbar Singh’s portrayal as the antagonist is full of Bibhatsa (disgust). The Adbhutam (Wonder) rasa is reflected in the prime dialogue of the film “Kitne aadmi the?” (How many men were there?)
Gabbar Singh, the villagers and Thakur himself wonder how the two men would nab the dangerous dacoit but “Loha lohe ko katta hai” (an idiom, literally translating to “it is iron that can cut through iron”) justifies it.
The ninth rasa of Shantam (peace) is seen at the end when Veeru shares a tranquil moment with Basanti, depicting the end of the conflict.
As written in the Natya Shastra, “Where there is expression shown, there will be sentiment evoked,” which clearly justifies the appealing factor of Sholay till date, and for ages to come!