Thursday, September 06, 2007


Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
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Sholay tribute fails to impress
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

1975 hit Sholay poster
The iconic 1975 hit Sholay is the biggest blockbuster ever made by Bollywood
A Bollywood film, which was to be a tribute to Sholay (Flames) - the most iconic Hindi movie ever made - has flopped at the box office.

A week after Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag (Ram Gopal Varma's Fire) was released, distributors say they have decided to pull it from cinemas by Friday.

Critics across India have panned the film and theatres in many parts of India have been running almost empty.

Trade analysts estimate the filmmakers will lose about $3m.

Often described as a "curry" western, Sholay was made in 1975.

The film was inspired by Hollywood's The Magnificent Seven, which itself was based on the Japanese film, Seven Samurai.


Sholay became a milestone in Indian cinema with an all-star cast, cult dialogue, stylish cinematography and a brilliant soundtrack which is still a hit with Indians.

Amitabh Bachchan in Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag
Bachchan fails to impress as the villain (Photo: Adlabs Films)

Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag was meant to be the director Varma's tribute to a film he says he has seen 27 times.

But his attempt to rekindle the past has backfired badly.

Trade analyst Amol Mehra says, "It was the biggest flop of our generation."

No one seems to disagree with him.

Film critic Komal Nahta says he is not surprised at the distributors' decision to stop showing the film.

"Such a high-profile film has been taken off theatres in its second week. How do you expect the exhibitors to continue to pay the theatre rent while getting nothing in return?" he asks.

Huge disappointment

I watched the film in a swanky Mumbai (Bombay) multiplex on Saturday, a day after the film was released.

A scene from Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag
The film is expected to lose $3m (Photo: Adlabs Films)

There were not more than 15 people in the theatre watching the film - surprising as cinema halls are generally packed during the weekends.

I had gone with high expectations, especially as the film has superstar Amitabh Bachchan playing the role of a villain.

Bachchan was in Sholay too, where he played one of the two main leads.

But my fellow viewers were hugely disappointed and agreed that Bachchan had failed to impress.


By the intermission, many disappointed fans had already left the theatre.

"It was a carnage of the original Sholay," one fan said.

The film had run into trouble from the word go. As soon as Varma announced his plans for a remake, he ran into copyright issues with the Sholay producer, Ramesh Sippy.

After Sippy sued him in court, Varma was forced to change the name of the film from the planned Ram Gopal Varma ke Sholay. He also had to change the name of all the main characters.

Several of Bollywood's films have been remade in the recent years, some of them have been successful, but others have failed miserably at the box-office.

Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag is the biggest flop so far.


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