Wednesday, March 22, 2006 13:00 IST
Talking of Bollywood legends, can we forget the man, who created the greatest blockbusters of all times—Sholay? Sholay is a landmark in the history of world cinema at large, and epitomises the greatest achievement of Bollywood. Tons of literature and critiques have been written on the film that is a household name in the country today. But the person, the brain behind this legendary work, the indomitable GP Sippy, often gets hidden behind his prodigious work. For the man on the street, the life, and achievements of GP Sippy, may start and end with his greatest work Sholay, but like all other mortals; Sippy too had his share of struggles, failures, and success.
It would not be known to many that GP Sippy started his career with carpet selling and moved onto construction work. A scion of an illustrious Sindhi family, Sippy, was making great buildings, when the idea of venturing into filmmaking dawned upon him. Some people even call him the pioneer of introducing flat system to cinema nagari Mumbai.
GP Sippy's career got a flying start with the film Marine Drive (1955). The same year he produced, Adl-e-e-Jahangir, with the star-cast of Pradeep Kumar, Meena Kumari, and Durga Khote. The fifties and sixties was a time of hectic filmmaking for GP Sippy, when his banner produced memorable flicks like Shrimati 420, Chandrakant, Light House, Bhai Behan, Mr. India, and Andaaz. It stands to his credit that GP Sippy, besides producing, also directed all the above-mentioned films.
In the late sixties, and early seventies, there came a time, when GP Sippy was to face some of the biggest professional hazards of his lifetime. It was during the production work of Brahamchari (1968) that serious differences arose between him and the director Bhappie Soni. The project nearly got shelved. The financial crunch induced by Brahamchari also had its effects on the next mega-venture of Sippy—Bandhan, starring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz. During this tough-time, GP Sippy had decided to bid adieu to filmmaking forever and concentrate on looking after his hotel in London. Fortunately for him, the matters turned around, and both the films not only got completed and but turned out to be chartbusters. But this was the time when Sippy took a momentous decision, whose ramifications were to remain etched in the golden letters in the history of Indian cinema.
Ramesh Sippy, son of GP Sippy was asked by his father to quit his studies at the London School of Economics and help him in production of films. The father-son duo working in tandem as producer-director, charted a course of making some of the most memorable films of Bollywood. In Sita aur Gita (1972), they cast Hema Malini in a double role. The star cast included big names like Dharmendera and Sanjeev Kumar.
But the magnum opus of the Sippys, however, was to be Sholay (1975), with a star cast of Dharmendera, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan. What Sholay did to the Indian cinema is known to all, but not many know that in this uniquely created film, the father and son put in great effort to create effects, ambience, and enchantment about the characters, scenes, and dialogues, that were to hold the audience spellbound for all times to come. In Sholay, the Sippys put in 3 crores and churned out a revenue of whopping 34 crores, besides, making box-office records—some out of which, remain unbroken till today.
But smitten by the success of Sholay, Sippys could hardly rest on their oars. They wanted to create another chartbuster—with a rich star cast and a uniqueness that would again turn out to be a favourite with the masses. But that was not to be, and Shaan (1980) visualized by GP Sippy turned out to be a damp squib. Later period saw GP Sippy produce films like Saagar (1985), Raju BanGaya Gentleman (1992), Aatish (1992), Zamaana Deewana (1995), etc.
Apart from prolific filmmaking GP Sippy remained the chairman of the Film & TV Producers Guild of India on four different occasions in the seventies, eighties and nineties. He bagged the Film fare award for the best film in 1968 and 1982.
Past the ninety years mark, GP Sippy, a weak man now, leads peaceful life away from the media glare. The ups and downs of life, have taken their toll on the farther-son business partnership also. Nevertheless, a healthy father-son relationship does exist between GP Sippy and his son Ramesh. GP Sippy's grandsons, Rohan and Sunhil, show their indulgence in filmmaking now. The younger lot of Sippys make it point to visit Sippy Sr, for ideas and inspiration now and then.
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