Surat: Thirty-five years after its eponymous release, Bollywood multi-starrer Sholay is back in news for political reasons. The film, its characters and dialogues seem to be a flavor of the poll-pourri in Gujarat this election season.
Rahul Gandhi was the first to enter the screenplay. At an election rally in Ahmedabad last month, the Congress Vice-President rechristened Goods and Services Tax (GST). The flagship central legislation aimed at ushering in uniform tax regime was flawed, he said.
Tugging at his sleeves, Gandhi said GST stands for Gabbar Singh Tax. Gabbar Singh — the savage bandit in Sholay played by Amjad Khan — ravaged Ramgarh for sustenance.
In Surat, another powerful character of the movie has leapt out of the celluloid this election — Thakur Baldev Singh. The police officer whose hands were chopped off by Gabbar. Sanjiv Kumar, the versatile actor who played the shawl-draped Thakur in the film, was from Surat.
A Leuva Patel by caste, Kumar’s real name was Harihar Jethalal Jariwala.
The Suratis (as the locals are often referred to in Gujarat) were in for a surprise when one fine morning this week they found posters of a Sanjiv Kumar-starrer pasted on the streets of the industrial town. Many years after the actor passed away, Thakur Baldev Singh was back in action — at-least in the posters-war between the BJP and the Congress. Memes targeting the GST tax regime have generously used Sholay dialogues delivered by Kumar in the film.
Sample this: Gabbar #GST mein aa raha hun. Another poster pasted at the auditorium named after Kumar had a tagline on how the Bollywood actor was unhappy with the state of affairs in the country.
The South Gujarat City of Surat is considered a stronghold of BJP where the party has registered a 90-plus strike rate in the past Assembly polls. The Congress this election is attempting to make inroads in BJP-controlled urban centers and Rahul Gandhi has in the last one week twice travelled to Surat. The target audience is the urban voter traditionally employed in textile and other businesses.
In another short film made by Congress supporters, Gabbar Ke Goley, a lookalike of the Ramgarh dacoit is seen chopping off GST and demonetisation