Last week, when Gadar 2 was having a blockbuster run, many experts remarked that very few films have an insane fan following as the Sunny Deol-starrer. The other film which also generated as much craze as Gadar and continues to be popular is Sholay (1975). Incidentally, the action drama completed 48 years on August 15. On this important occasion, Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke to Jayantilal Gada of PEN India Ltd. He also played a significant role in the film’s success. It was he who aired the film on Doordarshan. He had to face several challenges but ultimately, he emerged victorious. The television premiere of Sholay rewrote television history. Let’s find out from the main himself how he managed to do so.
48 Years of Sholay EXCLUSIVE: “It was aired for the first time on TV in 1995 and had a TRP of 76! One can say that 76% of the television sets in the country were playing Sholay” – Jayantilal Gada
Jayantilal Gada started by saying, “The year was 1993. Those were the days when satellite was not huge. Satellite came in India in a big way in 1992. Before that, Doordarshan was quite popular. I started my journey by running a video library. Sholay was the favourite film of everyone, including mine. We had sold several of its video cassettes. It made me realize the power of its content. When we used to do the dealings with Doordarshan, we had to pay a certain amount of telecast fees to the channel. And we used to pay the producers as well. The money used to be recovered by playing ads.”
Jayantilal Gada continued, “We met G P Sippy saab. He was not ready to sell the TV rights of Sholay. He was ready to part with the rights to his 22 other films but not Sholay. I tried to persuade him. I assured him that I’ll buy the rights to all his films. I also asked him to put a condition that he can deliver Sholay after the rest of the 22 films have been aired. By then, I would have set foot in the market. Also, he had asked for a huge amount for Sholay. I realized that I would have been able to arrange the amount only after airing his other movies.”
When asked how much was the price, Jayantilal Gada said, “I can’t reveal but for that time, it was the highest price for satellite rights.” Interestingly, in a Bombay Times interview in November 30, he had revealed, “G P Sippy saab was not wanting it to come on TV so as against the normal price of Rs 25 lakhs for a film on TV, he asked me for Rs 1.25 crore, knowing that I would not be able to pay it. But I was determined.”
Jayantilal Gada then said, “Nevertheless, he agreed. We aired Sholay on Doordarshan on January 26, 1995. Our team and the team of Doordarshan, all were in full josh. The response was better than expected. In fact, it was historic. It had a TRP of 76! One can say that 76% of the television sets in the country were playing Sholay. In the 80s, this used to happen for the TV shows, Mahabharat and Ramayan.”
He added, “No film since then has been able to break this record. Today, the TRP of all films running on various movie channels will collectively not be able to achieve such a rating. Sholay’s telecast went on for five hours. We even played the songs twice as we had to insert a lot of ads in between. Yet, people had no qualms and watched till the end. After all, Sholay is a classic. You can watch it a hundred times.”
This was the first time that Sholay was premiered on television. This means that ever since it was released in 1975, it got aired on the idiot box only after 20 years. Jayantilal explained, “G P Sippy saab had an apt reason for it. He used to get a huge amount for renewing the theatrical rights of Sholay. Hence, he was not keen to air the film on TV.”
Sholay’s successful TV premiere changed the tide for Jayantilal Gada. He exulted, “The second telecast was aired on Sony TV in 1996. Its TRP was also huge. This helped us to make a name for ourselves. Our brand also got a boost. In today’s times, we got similar success with RRR (2022). We aired the film on TV in all five languages. It got a TRP of 50 across all five languages.”
Jayantilal Gada also backed the 3D version of Sholay, which was released in theatres on January 3, 2014. He said, “The idea to release the film in 3D was given by Sascha Sippy, G P Sippy saab’s grandson. We used good technology for the 3D effects and even remastered the music. It collected Rs. 11 crores at the box office which is the highest figure for a film having a repeat run.”
Before signing off, Jayantilal Gada shared an interesting trivia, “During the release of Sholay 3D, we requested Salim Khan saab and Javed Akhtar saab to grace the trailer launch. This was a time when both were not on talking terms. I met them and said, ‘Main aap dono ke jhagde ke beech mein toh nahin aa sakta. Main umar mein bhi chhota hoon aur kad se bhi chhota hoon. Lekin aap dono Sholay ke haqdaar ho. Hence, I request you to share the stage for just 30 minutes at the press launch. Uske baad aap apna jhagda continue kar sakte hai!’ Both agreed and attended the trailer launch. They shared the stage and for us, it meant a lot.”
More Pages: Sholay Box Office Collection , Sholay Movie Review
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