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Friday, March 9, 2012

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Shaan - released five years after Sholay - holds the dubious distinction of being the movie that replaced its illustrious predecessor after a record-breaking run at Minerva. If it didn't, who knows? Sholay may still have been running there.
In terms of scale and grandeur, Shaan is about 10 times Sholay. If Sholay had everything, Shaan had everything 3G-enabled, wrinkle-free, loaded with micro-sculpting serum and with extra dust-busters. But the way products with many features often don't succeed because they don't connect to their users, Shaan too remained a mere product and did not become an icon, everyone hoped - and maybe even expected - it to be.

I love the scale of Shaan, its grandeur, its style. I like the way a filmmaker's passion for mounting a memorable product In short, I like the shaan of Shaan.

Sunil Dttt played the heroes' elder brother in the film, whose usual role in Hindi cinema is to die tragically so that the business end of the revenge drama can be taken up. Even he got two and a half kick-ass scenes before he was allowed to die.
He started off the film with a scene in which he diffused a hostage situation involving skyscraper construction sites, scaffolding, elevators and a massive water tank. Soon afterwards, he was kidnapped using 4 trailer trucks on a never-ending highway. And finally, he was chased by a packing of hunting dogs (shot from helicopters, trolleys, hand-helds and what not) before he was killed in a dreary seaside abyss. Wow!

The villain's den was on an island and was loaded with gizmos - completely on a different level altogether from the rocks of Ramanagaram.
The villain here also liked to play Russian Roulette with his untrustworthy henchmen but instead of ghumaoing the revolver's barrel, he ghumaoed the floor they stood on and ended the ordeal by depositing the errant one in the jaws of a salivating crocodile!
Like the scarily named Gabbar, the villain was the bald-headed Shaakaal - who chewed his words 32 times before allowing them to leave his lips to ensure better digestion of his messages. (Use this line to best demonstrate this: "Ab yeh zahreeli gas dheere dheere mehfil ko aur rangeen bana degi...")

Sholay - when launched - had one superstar couple, one major character actor, one heroine coming out of retirement and one unknown as second male lead. The villain was, of course, a debutant.
Shaan had substantially more star power with Amitabh Bachchan and Parveen Babi in 1980 probably being a bigger draw than Dharmendra-Hema in 1975. Shashi Kapoor was still a major star as was Sunil Dutt. Kulbhushan Kharbanda - after a stint with Shyam Benegal (Manthan, for example) - made his mainstream debut with style.
And the massive supporting casts of both films were studded with the who's who of Bollywood.

Shaan had phenomenal music - way better than Sholay. Sholay's real strength was its background score, supported by two big hits (Yeh dosti and Mehbooba).
Shaan - on the other hand - had a cracking title song (Doston se pyar kiya), a sort-of item number (Pyar karne wale), one romantic ditty (Jaanu mere jaan) and one prime example of that long-forgotten Bollywood furniture - the climax song (Yamma yamma).
If I go by the sheer popularity on FM radio channels, Shaan is one of RD Burman's most popular soundtracks, if not among his very best. It was the typical whistle-inducing, dance-floor-rocking soundtrack that still earns DJs their daily breads.

And finally, it had brilliant lines. Smart, cool lines. And nothing exemplifies the film better than my favourite line from the film.
When Parveen and Amitabh make a break after stealing a necklace during a brilliant song, he compliments her by saying: Samajh mein nahin aa raha hain aap ki gale ki taarif karoon ya aap ki haath ki, aap ki awaaz ki taarif karoon ya aap ki andaz ki, aap ki jeet ki taarif karoon ya aap ki haar ki.
Really, Shaan was such an overloaded film that you did not know what to praise. And it remains like a Dravid in the history of Bollywood - never appreciated enough but it is one of the most slick and entertaining films ever made.
So, let me end with a shot of the film from another film... you remember which one, don't you?

UPDATED TO ADD: This is a mail from a friend, who refuses to comment on blogs but he liked this post enough to mail me a response.  
The read was almost as enjoyable as the movie! Couldn’t agree more…“zehereeli gais (gas needs to be spelt this way for the Kulbhushan effect!) ne sachmuch mehfil (cyberspace) ko aur bhi rangeen bana diya...”

The favourite line rocks (not sure it is exactly right – if my memory serves me correctly, it is “apni” jeet and “tumhari” haar). Actually, every line in that conversation rocks i.e. “ek hi shehar mein rehkar hum aaj tak ek doosre se kaise nahin mile” ?

While all parallels are with Sholay, the car conversation with Parveen is akin to the one in Deewaar…Incidentally, both sequences are the first meeting between the 2 in the movie when they are rushing out of a 5-star hotel! They are at different ends of the romantic chemistry spectrum though - Deewaar is intensely (remember “tumhaare jaise ajeeb aadmi ka naam kya ho sakta hai ?” line) romantic and Shaan is flirtatiously (oh-so-uber coolly!) so, na?


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