BRATTLEBORO — On Saturday, Nov. 13, Epsilon Spires will host an evening of Indian film, food, and crafts downtown, featuring a screening of the epic Bollywood classic Sholay, with an introduction by Vidhi Salla of the radio show Vidhi's Bollywood Jukebox.
Filmed in rural Bangalore in the 1970s, Sholay combines the aesthetic of “spaghetti westerns” of the period with inspiration from films like Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai to create one of the most popular action-adventure musicals that the world has ever seen.
When the film was first released in 1975, it played at a theater in Mumbai for five straight years and, in 2002, the British Film Institute named Sholay number one on its list of top Indian films of all time.
“Growing up in India, you cannot escape Sholay. It's so big that it's part of the culture,” says Salla. “Sholay is so big in India that there's no Indian person living in or out of the country that hasn't heard about it.”
Although Sholay has the comedic elements of a madcap adventure movie, it was shot with a meticulous attention to detail that required some complex scenes to be filmed over a period of several weeks. The movie is both visually stunning and capable of capturing the audience's imagination, as evidenced by the crowds that would gather outside of shops in India playing radio broadcasts of just the film's dialogue.
The event is the second in-person collaboration between Vidhi's Bollywood Film Club and Epsilon Spires.
“I'm really thrilled that I will be watching Sholay on a larger screen for the first time at Epsilon Spires,” says Salla. “I have a sense of borrowed nostalgia for films that were released in theaters during my parents' time. I have only heard stories from my father of massive crowds gathering outside Bombay's cinema halls to watch Sholay a second, third, or even 20th time.”
The screening will be preceded by a thoroughly researched introduction by Salla, who presents educational programs about Bollywood music and culture on her radio show, broadcast locally on WVEW-LP 107.7 FM every Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m., as well as streaming internationally online.
Thematic refreshments and Indian street snacks will be available during the film's intermission, and throughout the event the former Indian import shop Adivasi will sell the last of its inventory.
The Adivasi pop-up at Epsilon Spires is open all weekend, with hours on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets for the event are $15 at epsilonspires.org.