Sholay Gets Its Streaming Moment

The Bollywood classic has long been relegated to cable and piracy. It’s now available on Amazon Prime — if anyone will watch.

Siddhant Adlakha

October 7, 2019

Sholay Gets Its Streaming Moment
Gabbar Singh.

Few films achieve the mythic status enjoyed by Sholay (1975). Director Ramesh Sippy’s Western-inspired classic ran in Mumbai’s Minerva theater for nearly six years straight, a record broken only technically by Shah Rukh-starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayange (1995). Yet, Sholay ran sold out, night after night. It became the highest grossing Indian film of 1975. When adjusted for inflation, it may even be the highest grossing Indian film of all time. 

“It’s integral to understanding the history of Bollywood,” Aditi Kini told The Juggernaut. Kini first watched Sholay as a teen, and then in college a few times afterwards. “It’s a standard for a Bollywood movie — action, romance, family — and set in a rural, less flashy area.”

And yet, in the streaming age, the film has largely been unavailable outside India. For years, you couldn’t find Sholay outside occasional Indian cable broadcasts, out-of-print DVDs, and torrent files of its 2014 3D re-release. That all changed this past August, when Amazon Prime, with 100 million paid subscribers globally, made the title widely available for streaming. Just as Friends coming to Netflix birthed several new generations of viewers — many who weren’t even alive when the show first aired — can Sholay, too, finally find new fans?