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There is much more to Ramesh Sippy than Sholay – Times of India

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Ramesh Sippy who turns a year older today has one of the most impressive oeuvres in Indian cinema. Sholay defines his career. But before that, he did two of the most successful Hindi films of the 1970s Andaz and Seeta Aur Geeta both starring Hema Malini.
Andaz was a pathbreaking drama about a widow (Hema) and widower (Shammi Kapoor) finding love together. Andaz is remembered to this day for Rajesh Khanna’s guest appearance warbling Zindagi ek safar hai suhana in Kishore Kumar’s voice.

Hema Malini considers Seeta Aur Geeta her most successful and popular film. The double role had been written by Salim-Javed with Mumtaz in mind. But she didn’t like the remuneration being offered.
Then came Sholay which needs no recommendation. Sholay is to Ramesh Sippy’s career what Mother India was to Mehboob Khan. No matter what Sippy made before or after Sholay, the film continues to define his career.

After Sholay, Ramesh Sippy shot Shaan and Shakti simultaneously. Neither was as successful as Sholay. In fact Shaan was an outright flop. Shakti bringing Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan together for the first and last time is considered by many to be Ramesh Sippy’s finest film.

Sagar in 1985 was a self indulgent ode to Raj Kapoor’s Sangam. Sippy’s crush on his leading lady Dimple Kapadia made the film lopsided.

In 1986 Ramesh Sippy embarked on a pilgrimage on the home medium. Buniyaad on Doordarshan remains an epoch-defining chapter in the history of Indian television.

Sippy’s career suffered a creative and commercial slump after Buniyaad. Bhrashtachar (1989), Akayla (1991) which was Sippy’s fourth film with Mr Bachchan , and Zamana Deewana (1995) were catastrophic. 25 years after Zamana Deewana Ramesh Sippy returned to direction with the disastrous Shimla Mirch.

Speaking on his cinema I asked Ramesh if he ever thought of remaking one of his brilliant films.

He says, “I’d never remake my films. Just as there can never be another Dilip Kumar ,Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan, there can never be another Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay or Shakti. When I was working with Amitabh Bachchan I was asked , would he be the next Dilip Kumar. When I was working with Shah Rukh Khan I was asked would he be the next Amitabh Bachchan. In future another actor would be asked if he’s the next Shah Rukh.”

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