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Revisit 40 Years of ‘Sholay’ With the Iconic Salim-Javed

For the first time after their famous split, writers Salim - Javed revisit their most successful film ever

Updated
Entertainment
4 min read
A rare picture of Javed Akthar (L) with Salim Khan (R) (Photo: Twitter/Divya_Bhaskar)

In a rare joint interview to CNN-IBN’s Rajeev Masand last year, writers Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar spoke about working on the cult classic Sholay, their most successful film ever. Here are some trivia and quotes from the iconic duo’s interview on Sholay’s 40 year milestone.

The Origin

Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan on location for <i>Sholay</i>
Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan on location for Sholay

It was a mere idea of 15 - 20 minutes we had narrated it to so many people, from one place we got Rs 10,000 also as signing amount. But finally they all opted for some other script and we had to return the signing amount as ten thousand was a huge amount in those days.
– Salim Khan

When Amitabh Bachchan was signed to play Jai, he was not such a huge star, he was signed before the release of Zanjeer. Then came Deewar in January and Sholay in August 1975. So by the time Sholay was released, Amitabh Bachchan was also a huge star.
– Javed Akhtar

Dilip Kumar once told me that he felt bad because he didn’t do Sholay when it was offered to him (Thakur’s role).
– Salim Khan

When we went to Bangalore for the shoot, some of the actors who were convinced about the script, said that Ramesh Sippy has taken the wrong location, this film is destroyed. It should have been shot somewhere in Rajasthan, instead he has come to a place where there is greenery and rocks. The whole image is destroyed.
– Javed Akhtar

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All About Gabbar Singh

Amjad Khan in <i>Sholay</i>
Amjad Khan in Sholay
  • Both Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar wanted to play the role of Gabbar Singh after they heard the script.
  • Danny Denzongpa was short-listed for Gabbar Singh’s role but he didn’t have the dates that Ramesh Sippy needed. He was shooting for Feroz Khan’s Dharmatma in Afghanistan.

Where did the name Gabbar Singh come from?

My father was a cop and he had told me a story of a dacoit whose name was Gabbar. He was very notorious, he used to keep a lot of dogs. When he used to catch cops, he would cut their nose. That’s where we got the name Gabbar Singh.
– Salim Khan

Sholay Trivia

A poster of <i>Sholay</i>&nbsp;
A poster of Sholay 

Initial reports suggested that Sholay would be a flop and the producers went into damage control mode, but writers Salim and Javed were confident that it will do well. They even put out an ad in a trade paper, which said that Sholay will make Rs 1 crore in every territory which had never happened before. It went on to make 2 to 3 crore in every territory at a time when movie tickets cost Rs 10!

There were many people who in an extremely sympathetic manner explained to us why Sholay would not run, because everything was wrong. The emotions are negative, the film is gruesome, the villain’s voice is weak and the casting is wrong. In the end, they all proved to be wrong.
– Javed Akhtar

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The Power of the Writer

Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan (Photo: YouTube/<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGguMW6bztg">RajeevMasand</a>)
Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan (Photo: YouTube/RajeevMasand)

Writers had no authority before us and we also got some authority after giving ten hits in a row. Writers never got credit on film posters till we started the trend.
– Salim Khan

After four hits we put our foot down and said we will charge Rs 2 lakhs per script so for 9 months we didn’t get any work. In today’s times it’s like a writer asking Rs 20 cr. After 9 months we got that amount, which kept increasing.
– Javed Akhtar

The Salim - Javed Split

Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan (Photo: Twitter/@manojdialogue)
Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan (Photo: Twitter/@manojdialogue)

Our split was a bit premature, when I look back I feel I could have handled things in a better manner. I blame myself for the split.
– Salim Khan

You can watch Salim-Javed’s complete interview here.

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