A clip from Sholay (1975) directed by Ramesh Sippy starring Amitabh Bacchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya Bacchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Amjad Khan and others.
Sholay is one of the box office record breaking films of Hindi cinema. As pointed out by Shohini Ghosh, it is in these films that are seemingly mainstream, that queer desires often find a resonance (as in Hum aapke hain kaun). Sholay revolves around the friendship of two men with each other -Jai and Veeru, the women they romance and the revenge drama they enact against the evil henchman Gabbar.
Jai and Veeru's friendship is the heart of the film, and here what are usually romantic devices in Hindi cinema- songs, arguments, declarations of underlying love - are often enacted between the two men as well. In this scene, Jai and Veeru are singing a famous song to each other which is a celebration of their friendship.
An intriguing part of this scene is when they toss a coin to decide which among them will pursue the girl, and the coin lands on its side (neither heads nor tails).
Another song in which again Amitabh Bacchan is the object of affection for a man, is Yaari (Love/friendship) from Zanjeer. As Raja Rao puts in, in his article "Memories Pierce the heart ; Homoeroticism, Bollywood-Style" (Essays On Cinema and Television (Editors - Gayatri; Rao; Wadia; Raman; Arnold; Vasudevan; McLean; Bielby)) -- "..this is where the paradox lies: two men who believe they represent the masculinity principle to the utmost degree find they cannot live without each other; they are happy only when they are together."
Raja Rao's article also draws a valuable link of the "buddy film" genre (to dubiously implant that category from Hollywood to Bollywood) to spectator practices in movie theatres, especially in relation to Bacchan films.
He says .."The bond that Amitabh Bacchan formed with other male actors on the screen, complemented the presence of an all-male audience that had gathered to watch him, engendered a sort of homoeroticism in the dark of the movie hall.
Take a look at the audience as the movie is showing (as I have frequently done), and you are likely to find young men all over each other, clasping hands, putting arms around shoulders and waists, even a leg on a leg. Few of these men might be consciously gay. Nor would they exhibit such behaviour if it were their wives or girlfriends sitting next to them: that would be too black-and-white."
You can read this article online at ..
You can also see another clip from Sholay - Conversation of Jai with Mausi - also available on Pad.ma at
This clip is part of the Queering Bollywood database, an exhibition and demonstration of a collection of queer readings of Indian cinema. This open and collaborative database of articles, film clips, magazine stories, etc., has been compiled by Namita Malhotra, Lawrence Liang and many others at Alternative Law Forum and in Bangalore. For more, see http://media.opencultures.net/queer/