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Why did Jai and Veeru go after Gabbar Singh in 'Sholay'​?

What is the motivation of the two central characters in Sholay, Jai (Mr Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharam Saab) ?


Why would two small-time criminals take panga with a dreaded dacoit, Gabbar Singh?


Is it money? Certainly not?

No amount of money would make most people risk their lives antagonizing an outright murder machine like Gabbar Singh.

The motivation is guilt.

There’s a scene which takes place the same night when they arrive at Ramgarh and are accommodated in the small cottage adjacent to the Thakur’s house.


In the dead of night, Jai and Veeru tiptoe into the Thakur’s house intending to empty the safe and decamp with the loot.


First Jai takes a shot at opening the safe. Then they exchange places, with Veeru trying to open the safe while Jai holds the light.

Just then, the Thakur's daughter-in-law Radha (Jaya Bhaduri) enters the room. Contrary to every conceivable human behaviour, she does not raise an alarm.


Instead, she hands them the keys to the safe, and says, “Here, take the keys to the safe. It contains my jewellery which I will never need again. There’s a little money. Take that too. At least it will break my Father-in-law’s hopes which he has pinned on you two."

Note the special sarcasm in ‘you too’, as in "Us small-time criminals. What is our worth?"

It is evident that Thakur has discussed the plan (of hiring Jai-Veeru to eliminate Gabbar) with Radha although a discussion between them is never shown.


Even if he hasn't, Radha certainly knows about the plan because the servant Ramlal would have told her. Why the Thakur would trust two small-time thieves with such a task is difficult for Radha to understand, as it would be for most people.


And it is this scepticism which comes out when she says 'Kam se kam babuji ki ummeedien to tootengi jo unhone tum logon se laga rakhi hain. "(At least it will break my Father-in-law’s hopes which he has pinned on you two).'

Why was it important that eye contact happens between Radha and Jai and not between Radha and Veeru (as explained earlier: Jai was holding the light and Veeru was trying to open the safe, which is why Jai was the first to see Radha and make eye-contact with her)?


This is because it sets the stage for the eventual romance between the widowed Radha and the bachelor, never-married Jai.

Also important to note, when morning comes, Jaya Bhaduri has not broken the news to the Thakur. She is playing with her goat as if nothing has happened.

Jai hands her the key and says, "Kal raat jo hua wo phir nahi hoga." (What happened last night will not happen again).

From this point, the quest to bring Gabbar Singh to book is no longer an assignment that Jai and Veeru have undertaken for a price.


It is their OWN quest, to redeem themselves in the eyes of Radha.


Yes, it is possible that Jai is the one who has taken the lead in this decision and Veeru has simply followed suit, the good friend that he is. This need not be shown in the Film.

It is important to understand too, why Veeru and Jai came to Ramgarh in the first place, accepting the Thakur’s challenge.

I realised this only when researching for the story above, even though I have seen Sholay many many times, likes millions of people,

The answer is the Thakur himself goes to meet Jai and Veeru.


Almost immediately, he cuts to the chase, “Apni bahaduri pe itna ghamand hai. toh mera ek kaam kyon nahi karte ? (if you are so proud of your bravery, why don’t you do an assignment for me ?)


A challenge Jai-Veeru cannot refuse.

Do you agree with the total assessment ? I'd very much like to know what you think about this?