India’s First film that went beyond 200 weeks run and broke all box office records was Ramesh Sippy‘s Sholay (1975). Made on a large scale Sholay had a galaxy of stars Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Amjad Khan, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, Asrani, Jagdeep, etc. The film was written by top writers of the 70’s Salim Javed and boosted of being Technicolor, 70MM and stereophonic sound! In nutshell, the film was India’s magnum opus after K Asif‘s Mughul-E-Azam!! The film was released at Mumbai’s Minerva Cinema on the Independence Day, 15 August 1975.
The film critics were not impressed by the film and wrote off the film as Western Curry, an imitation of Hollywood and foreign films and some scenes cunningly lifted from old classic Hindi films. The critics’ writings impacted the film’s collection for the first 3 weeks. This angered film’s scriptwriters Salim Javed, who were so confident of the film’s success that they inserted a full-page advertisement in the popular Screen Newsweekly asserting the film to be a blockbuster!!
True to their prediction, the film started showing its magic on film buffs. People who saw the film were bowled over by the film’s action, comedy and to top it all the menacing act of its lead villain Gabbar Singh’s and his dialogue Kitne Aadmi The soon became a craze. The film soon picked up by word-of-mouth publicity and the cinema halls around the country run to packed houses.
The craze to watch the film was so intense that all shows were booked in advance booking. Readers would be shocked to know that for an uninterrupted 75 weeks the current booking of Minerva remained shut as cine buff booked the ticket in advance booking itself! The tickets that were sold for Rs 50 were sold in black for Rs 500/- and cine buff happily bought the tickets!! The black marketers made a fortune. Some even quit black marketing and started a small business.
In short, the film proved a goldmine not just for filmmaker G.P Sippy but it was a boon for distributors and theatre owners as Sholay became the first film to celebrate Silver Jubilee in 100 cinema houses across India and celebrated Golden Jubilee in 60 cinema houses in India! At Mumbai’s Minerva Cinema, Sholay ran uninterruptedly for five and half year i.e. 286 weeks!!