Ramesh Sippy’s epic revenge movie has charmed people for over thirty years now, but we just can’t get enough of the film it seems. Apart from different formats and remakes the film enjoys, Graphic India has recently released a novel reliving the rich, treasured experience of the cult classic – including in a paperback everything from the dramatics to the insanely comical to the song-dance sequences, thankfully sans the lyrics.
The narrative in this illustrated version flows the same stream as it does in the film, and the rustic artwork inside is successful in creating Ramgarh as we know it. None of the characters have been restyled in the book, while save a few, others’ appearances have been played with. It’s just a frame-by-frame retelling of the motion picture masterpiece, and while I agree that the original movie charm is lost when the most iconic of dialogues are delivered in English, I must add that in no way does that hamper the overall entertainment-quotient of this product. It’s as unique as it could be, and it puts its best foot forward in delivering awesomeness on those comic panels, in all graphical glory.
Overall Rating (Sholay): 3.5/5
This novel details the story of Gabbar’s life – childhood instances that shaped his future, turning him into the most quintessential villain of Chambal wildland. The artists have brilliantly chalked out a younger version of him who’s influenced by the web of corruption, crime and violence spinning around his life. All this details are shared by Gabbar himself in one long narrative, in response to a jailer’s interest in his story. We are taken to the Chambals of 1950s, where an adolescent Gabbar resides with his father and mother. His father used to aid the dacoits, and in an encounter is shot dead by the police. This incident poisons Gabbar against the uniformed men, and off he goes to take his revenge, and in the process becoming the most feared goon Chambal ever saw.
Gabbar’s portraiture in this graphic novel is somewhat sympathetic, and his personality is created with more humane shades. The imagery is dark and constrained, bringing out the piteousness and intensity of the boy gone sour. Also, these dark images successfully recreate a dusty Chambal as it would’ve been in that era. The close-ups work well in delivering the required grimness. The story is a wonderful mould of how innocence can be lost in the pursuit of revenge. The way his relationship with his mother undergoes gradual strain is one high point of the book. So is his bonding with Samba and his friends.
Apart from Gabbar’s personal account, this novella includes seven shorts on other memorable characters from Sholay. All these shorts boast a unique style of illustration, the artists bringing out in their artwork the many moods of the many situations. The exact retelling of a scene from a character’s perspective makes for a definite read if you claim yourself to be a Sholay fan.