Sholay is to India what Star Wars is to the US. Both movies were released in the mid-1970s, and their iconic scenes embedded moral lessons in the viewer’s collective consciousness. But how relevant are they now? While Star Wars continues to live through adaptations in graphic novels, movies and animations, Sholay hasn’t found much space in books. The film and its dialogues have been referenced by advertisements and movies, but the 3D re-release of the film last year was a dud.
Pogo’s Sholay Adventures, an animated cartoon series adaptation, aims to fill this gap. The makers of the new show have reinvented the epic Bollywood blockbuster into something that will be accessible to the new generation. Jai and Veeru, played by Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra in the film, aren’t outlaws on the run but two mischievous eight-year-old boys with golden hearts. Gabbar isn’t a dacoit from the heartlands of Madhya Pradesh but a tech savvy super villain, who wants to rule the world with his intergalactic minions. To fight evil forces, Jai and Veeru join a secret police agency, Sholay. Its leader is Thakur, the righteous former cop from the original.
“Adapting successful stories to different mediums is a common practice in other parts of the world, whether that’s animation to film or film stories into comics and animation. The trend has recently been picking up interest in India as well,”says Sharad Devarajan, co-founder & CEO, Graphic India, producer of the show that went on on air on January 26. He says, “Sascha Sippy, grandson of GP Sippy, who runs Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd understands the power that graphic novels have, to convey a unique visual form of storytelling.”
The trick to adapt Sholay was to maintain the balance between making it relevant to children as well as staying faithful to the original. The reinvented animation series will see Jai and Veeru use gadgets to foil Gabbar’s attempts to control the world. This balance of the old and the new is what the promo emphasises on. The opening shots show a train, speeding down a rusty railroad, about to collide with something dangerous. With boulders, tunnels and the vast stretches of barren land surrounding it, the series brings alive the familiar lawless badlands of Ramgarh. The danger that lurks ahead is a giant, robotic Transformers-like figure, with only his bearded face and khaki uniform visible through his glass helmet. That’s Gabbar 2.0.
Although their target audience is children, Devarajan promises that it will be equally enjoyable for the parents, who like him are the original fans of the 1975 classic. “A great story is a great story, regardless of when it was made. The overarching themes of the original are universal and timeless and have been retained in Sholay Adventures. Friendship, loyalty, fun and overcoming great obstacles to do the right thing, remain at the heart of everything we have done,” he says.