During these corona time when all of us are forced into locked seclusion I wonder how would anyone respond to Imam Saab’s innocent query itna sannata kyon hai bhai? Come on, don’t ask me what sense does it make to respond to an innocent query raised decades ago on screen, in blockbuster Sholay. The unprecedented sannata leaves the blind old man baffled, wondering why human relations snap during such testing times? Ever the chirpy chatter Basanti is nowhere around. Once a hub of cultural activities, village Ramgarh today bears a desolate look. But for stray cattle and wandering chickens, the eerie silence enforced by a complete lock down had shocked the trio who brought back a sack of mixed emotions filled instead with thankfulness to the villagers. Despite social recession staring at him, Gabbar had gathered courage to thunder: kitne aadmi thay. The Kalia-led trio could only heave a sigh of relief saying sab bachh gaye saale.
The iconic writer duo Salim-Javed deserve credit for giving us a quintessential script, which without losing any bit on its incredible popularity has only helped hone abilities of many like me to obfuscate comic relief out from it. So flexible is the script that one can rephrase it despite its engrossing storyline being largely impregnable. Not without reason has the explosive script with its stunning characters outlived its screen presence, almost a folklore of sorts.
As a vast majority recoils in horror, my cavalier approach instead has been to construct comic moments out from the script and multiply them faster than the virus. Thank goodness, Gabbar neither sneezes nor shakes hands. In fact, he has been averse to people with strong hands. No one else knew it better than the irresistible Thakur who was not only relieved of his two limbs, but spared from compulsive hand washing too. To kill a social vermin, however, feet worked better than hands!
With life patterns thrown out of gear, an expansion of mental bandwidth to transform challenges into possibilities only springs hope. Aren’t most of us hopeful like Thakur? Else, why do we go without reservation to our preferred restaurant on a Saturday night with the hope of finding a table? As we all struggle against a sagging economy and sinking emotions, search for comic relief holds the promise of staying sane in this emerging theatre of the absurd. Loneliness for once is a forced virtue!
As we all brace to confront the dreaded virus, ab aayega mazaa should echo our collective resolve to settle the scores. Nothing less than Viru’s war cry chun chun ke maroonga will help in winning it over. Till such time, we all need to learn to live like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, who survived four years stranded on a remote island with only a volleyball. Social isolation does take a toll on humans though, but do we need to be reminded that jo darr gaya samjho mar gaya?
(This write-up is inspired by many of the characters and dialogues from the Bollywood film ‘Sholay’).
(Sudhirendar Sharma is a writer on development issues based in New Delhi, India)