Jai, Veeru and Basanti – but this time, as 10-year olds – will take on Gabbar Singh once again. An animated version of the iconic film Sholay, which transformed Bollywood 40 years ago, is being released.
Turner International India, which runs channels such as Pogo and Cartoon Network, has joined hands with the Sharad Devarajan-led Graphic India to reinvent G P Sippy’s blockbuster. The first part of the telefilm, named Sholay Adventures, will be shown on children’s channel Pogo this Republic Day.
The reason for reducing the age of the central characters (though Gabbar Singh and Thakur will retain their original ages) is simple: Children need to identify with them.
The intellectual property rights of the Sholay franchise are owned by the Sippy family, through Sholay Media & Entertainment.
“We are aware the property is iconic and to recreate its magic is tough. It’s a risk, I know. But we, at Turner, have always aimed at pushing the envelope when it comes to offering different and varied content for kids,” said Krishan Desai, executive director & network head (kids), South Asia, Turner International India.
Desai says while the original film centred on personal animosity between Gabbar and Thakur, in the telefilm, Gabbar is an aspiring super-villain with inter-galactic henchmen, while the latter is the head of an anti-terror agency. The telefilm’s logo, however, retains the look of the original poster with the word ‘Sholay‘ written in a font resembling a cracked stone wall.
The two-hour telefilm has already roped in confectionary major Perfetti as the primary sponsor, which will advertise its Center Fruit brand through the telefilm.
The question is whether the Turner network, which has roughly a share of 15 per cent of the kids’ channel segment, will be third-time lucky in being able to monetise the Sholay franchise, especially as two of its previous attempts have failed. Also, will kids who haven’t seen the original version be lured to this?
In 2007, Ram Gopal Varma produced and directed his interpretation of the film in a project titled Aag. In the film, starring Ajay Devgn and Amitabh Bachchan, the names and characters differed from those in the original due to copyright infringement issues between Varma and the Sippys. The film, made at a cost of about Rs 15 crore, bombed at the box office, earning a lifetime revenue of Rs 11 crore.
More recently, the film was converted to 3D and released in theatres across the country. It struggled to recover even the cost of conversion, making only Rs 10.53 crore at the box office (lifetime revenue). Sholay 3D, converted by Maya Digital Studios, was made at a cost of Rs 25 crore – Rs 20 crore for conversion and Rs 5 crore for distribution and publicity. The film was released on about 1,000 screens across India.
By contrast, the original version was made at a cost of less than Rs 3 crore and earned Rs 15 crore, about four decades ago. Taking inflation into account, the film’s adjusted box-office collections stand at an estimated Rs 187 crore today.
Made-for-television films aren’t new. Turner experimented with the concept earlier, too, finding some success with Chhota Bheem and Kid Krrish. “We have always been up for an experiment. We’ll gauge the feedback from the first airing and see how we want to take it forward. There will be some learning but it will help make the product better. The good thing made-for-television films have done is we now have a platform to test new properties. Instead of investing in long-format shows, we can focus our energy on a two-hour film and, subsequently, decide on how to present it on the channel,” says Desai.
Depending on the response to the telefilm, Turner might explore various licensing and merchandising avenues for the Sholay Adventures franchise. That, however, will have to wait till the characters (in their animated forms) become popular enough to drive sales.
- Release: August 15, 1975
- Producer: GP Sippy
- Director: Ramesh Sippy
- Actors: Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Hema Malini, Amjad Khan and Sanjeev Kumar
- The film ran at Mumbai’s Minerva theatre for five years
Aag – Release: August 31 2007
Producer, director: Ram Gopal Varma
Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Sushmita Sen, Mohanlal and Priyanka Kothari
Sholay 3D – Release: January 3, 2014
3D conversion: Maya Digital
Premier: Jan 26
Animation: Graphic India