New Delhi: Veteran screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar has said that the iconic Bollywood film ‘Sholay’ was not based, as was rumoured, on the classic western ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’, which was directed by Sergio Leone.
“As I have said, we (Salim and Javed) were influenced by Sergio Leone. But ‘Sholay’ was not based on his epic film. Critics also said ‘Zanjeer’ was based on ‘Dirty Harry’,” Akhtar writes in the recently released book, ‘Talking Life: Javed Akthar in Conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir’.
He points out that ‘Dirty Harry’ was released in December 1971 and ‘Zanjeer’ in May 1973. It would have been impossible for them in those pre-Google days to have written the screenplay (inspired by ‘Dirty Harry’), and then have the film shot, edited and released in such little time.
“It is all rubbish. No film was a remake or based on any other film,” Akhtar writes.
He says the basic story of ‘Zanjeer’ was Salim Khan’s brainchild. “Later we wrote the screenplay together. Yes, ‘Dirty Harry’ was remade in Hindi, though not by us — Salim and Javed. It was called ‘Khoon Khoon’ and turned out to be a big flop,” Akhtar recalls.
He writes that the only common point between ‘Zanjeer’ and ‘Dirty Harry’ was the profile of their heros — two angry police officers.
“I think the ‘Zanjeer’ hero has more layers. Whenever some Indian film critics saw a film of ours, they assumed it had to be a copy and couldn’t believe we (Salim and Javed) could think up ideas ourselves,” Akhtar notes.
“Think of the twist in ‘Don’. Vijay is planted in a gang by a police officer to expose the bad guys, then the police officer gets killed in the line of duty,” Akhtar continues. “Without the police officer to back up his story, Vijay has a hard time convincing the police that he is an undercover agent, even as the gang guesses he’s a plant.
“So, we have a situation where both the police and the gang are after Vijay’s blood. What a fantastic twist. All Salim Sahib,” Akhtar writes in the book.