Spellbound, the packed crowd at Minerva Theatre in gritty Grant Road, relived Sholay, the blockbuster that broke records with a five-year run at the top until Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge beat it in the 90s.
The contrast couldnâ€™t have been starker. While Vivek Oberoi-Aishwarya Raiâ€™s much-hyped Kyun Ho Gaya Na met a cold response with just 60 to 70 per cent business on its first day, Sholayâ€™s house was full.
Twenty-nine years after it was released (on August 15, 1975), director Ramesh Sippyâ€™s epochal movie has not lost its appeal.
When its new avatar (digitally spruced-up and with a four-track soundtrack) hit theatres on Friday, fans queued up in droves. â€˜â€˜I first saw it in 1975 at the same theatre. No other film has been like this,â€™â€™ raves Dilip Naik, 49, a taxi-driver who bunked work to watch it.
The craze is infectious, the adulation unabashed. â€˜â€˜In 1975, I bought a ticket (priced at Rs 4 and 40 paise) for Rs 80 in black. Today I bought one (priced at Rs 30) for double its price. I must have seen it 15 times so far,â€™â€™ claims Gyanand Masurkar, 50, a small trader at Vile Parle.
Be it Gabbarâ€™s menacing demeanour, Thakur Baldev Singhâ€™s (Sanjeev Kumar) steely resolve, the famed Viru-Jay (Dharmendra-Amitabh Bachchan) friendship or the bindaas Basanti (Hema Malini), everything in Sholay went right.
The scriptwriter duo, Salim Javed, gave several other hits, but no script matched Sholayâ€™s intensity, its perfect depiction of human emotions.
Sushil Mehra, general manager of Minerva, which hosted Sholayâ€™s premiere 29 years ago, reminisces:â€˜â€˜Busloads of policemen came from Pune and other cities. It ran for five years at my theatre.â€™â€™
â€˜â€˜These days a new film rarely has a housefull, but Sholayâ€™s next two days are booked in advance.â€™â€™
For distributor Liaqat Gola, buying Sholay was a challenge. â€˜â€˜We didnâ€™t expect such an overwhelming response for a two-decade-old movie. But we knew people still remembered Gabbarâ€™s lines, Basantiâ€™s bak-bak (non-stop talks),â€™â€™ smiles Gola, who plans to take Sholay to other cities soon and plans to re-release Shaan soon.
â€˜â€˜My friend translated the dialogues for me. Amitabh is the only actor I recognised. I liked the actions, the fights,â€™â€™ says Tore Gronne, 25, the sole firang in the crowd.