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When a scene is chilling simply because the first glimpse you get is that of his legs, with a belt swinging idly by his side, and the tension builds up with the background noises, and a quietly spoken Kitne aadmi the? you know you are in for some great villainy. That the next sentence is almost screamed out makes it even more startling. This was a character who was frightening because he was ruthless.

There was no backstory that tells you why he became a dacoit, and Gabbar Singh stole the thunder right from under the noses of a stellar cast that comprised Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan.

Amjad Khan’s deadpan delivery only served to underline his ruthlessness. Ab tera kya hoga, Kaalia must rank as prelude to one of the most sadistic scenes ever filmed — all the more chilling for the suddenness of the conclusion.

Amjad Khan did have a long and reasonably successful career as villain, but he never quite scaled the heights that he reached in his fascinating debut. Sholay was an example of masala film-making at its best. Each and every character in the film, including the minor ones, were etched out with such loving detail that the ‘stars’ did not overwhelm the plot.

Courtesy- Anuradha Warrier

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