• Topped the British Film Institute’s “Top 10 Indian Films” of all time poll of 2002,
• Was voted the greatest Indian movie in a Sky Digital poll of one million British Indians in 2004.
• Was also included in Time Magazine’s “Best of Bollywood” list in 2010, and
• Was in CNN-IBN’s list of the “100 greatest Indian films of all time” in 2013.
I don’t think anyone can forget the many unforgettable & immortal dialogues like “कितने आदमी थे” or “जो डर गया सो मर गया” or “तेरा क्या होगा कालीया” and many more.
This iconic movie of Indian Cinema was mostly shot at a small town called Ramanagaram which is about 40 kms south of Bangalore on Bangalore-Mysore road. The shooting site or the Ramgarh village of the movie is neatly tucked inside the Ramdevarabetta hills…. about 2 kilometers from the highway.
Couple of weeks back I went to see this iconic place along with my friend. After about an hour long drive we reached the hills. We parked the car and looked around so that we can connect the dots with the place around us with the movie. The moment we turned our heads to our right.. it was as if we got catapulted to 1973. The 2 stones that could be seen in the movie at the backyard of Thakur’s haveli, were lying the same way as it was in the movie… even after 40 years withstanding the vagaries of nature. When I had started for the Sholay rocks in the morning, I was expecting to see the place but had never expected that I would be able to see so clear landmarks. The moment I saw these stones, there was no doubt thereafter in my mind about being at the right place. The time froze in front of me the way camera had frozen the shot during the movie.
Gabbar’s den has also withstood the vagaries of nature. One can clearly make out even 40 years down the line that this indeed was the place from where Gabbar and his gang ruled the roost.
Our guide also showed the place where the famous bridge was constructed on which Amitabh Bachchan fought his last battle with Gabbar’s gang. Though we could not make any connect with that place as there were no visible signs around of bridge. We spent couple of hours looking around these landmarks and living (not watching) the Sholay moments.
We had wanted to spend more time to climb up the rock where we could see a temple and also the ruins of Ramgarh village but it started raining which soon turned into a downpour. We waited for an hour at a house on the way back to car parking. The family was very kind and offered us tea and snacks. After waiting for an hour, there were no signs of rain slowing and so we decided to head back home. While on the way back, our guide showed us the place where the Ramgarh village was created in the movie. We could not stop as it was still raining heavily.
I do intend to go there again soon to look at the remaining landmarks as well as the Ramgarh village. If you are movie buffs, I would suggest that if you happen to be visiting Bengaluru or around, then you shall visit the “Sholay Rocks”. You can do it in six-seven hours and I am sure you will not regret the time spent.
Before I close I do have some suggestions for the tourism authorities –
1. The place could be declared & developed as a “Place of Tourism Importance”. Film promotion authorities can think setting an Indian Film Museum here, if economics can work out.
2. It could be developed as proper tourist place with a “guided tours” conducted to show people the important points. The ramp and walkways can be made so as not to damage the place.
3. Proper Signage could be installed to highlight the various places around that were used in the movie shooting like Thakur’s Haveli, lake, etc.
4. Authorities can put ticket for the visitors to the place to recover the cost of maintaining the place.I am sure the visitors would not mind paying it.
5. The Ticket money collected could be spent on the various social initiatives around the area like on providing computers to gram panchayat schools, forestation, Anganwadi, medical facility for the poor people of the area, etc.