Original release: July 29th, 1981
Running time: 183 minutes
Country of origin: India
Original language: Hindi with English subtitles
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Jaya Bachchan, Rekha
The story of Silsila (The Affair) is one that’s as timeless as Bollywood itself. It’s the story of a love that’s forbidden and yet inevitable, and tragic as it is beautiful.
Directed by Yash Chopra, founder of Yash Raj Films and the man behind other classics such as Deewaar (1975) and Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Silsila remains one of those films that people still talk about. Whether it’s the songs, the controversial theme of extramarital affairs both on-screen and off, or it’s stellar cast of superstars, it’s a classic that never fades or grows old.
After its colourful and joyous intro song, Sar Se Sarke, sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, we meet Shekhar (Shashi Kapoor) and Amit Malhotra (Amitabh Bachchan) who are brothers. One is a Squadron Leader with the Indian Air Force and the other is a struggling writer. While Shekhar and Shobha (Jaya Bachchan) plan to marry, Amit meets and falls in love with Chandni (Rekha) and they also plan to marry but fate has other things in store for the brothers.
Shekhar is killed, leaving Amit devastated and Shobha grief stricken and pregnant. Wanting to help share the burden, Amit decides to marry her instead and writes to Chandni telling her to forget him. Still, fate twists its knife deeper into their lives and Shobha loses the child in car crash. With no child to tie them together, Amit rekindles his affair with Candni who in meantime has married someone else, Dr. V.K. Anand (Sanjeev Kumar). But there’s more in store for them as Shobha never loses faith that if it’s meant to be, Amit will return to her as she truly loves him.
Silsila is just simply stunning and a nostalgic reminder of the way India made films that reflected both the heart and soul of the nation. It’s funny and tragic moments move like the tide, pulling you in and then gently letting you go with so much emotion that it’s impossible to watch it and not feel carried by it in either direction.
The cast do a superb job and from the moment we meet Shekhar and Shobha with Sar Se Sarke there’s such a feeling of love and rejoicement in their happiness that it hurts all the more when he’s killed.
Even though Sashi is in the film briefly, considering its epic proportions, he makes a memorable impression. Amitabh is very much the epitome of a man torn between two loves, one the one hand he has this impossible and noble burden to carry with Shobha but at the same time his blossoming love for Chandni has its own strong tug on his heart.
The songs are fantastic. Sung by Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Amitabh Bachchan, there’s not a single one of them that is easy to forget. The exuberance of Ladki Hai Ya Shola, Dekha Ek Khwab and Rang Barse as well as the opening song are just one part of what made Silsila so famous. Then there’s the ethereal Neela Aasman, a sad, sad song in two parts by Lata Mangeshkar and Amitabh Bachchan.
Putting aside the drama that unfolded off-screen with Amitabh, Jaya and Rekha, Silsila is an eternal testament to the sprit of India and even though such sentiments embodied within it might not have carried through to the modern age of cinema today, it’s here for everyone to see and to remember its simple message, “Love is faith and faith is forever”.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .