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Dhanno from Sholay
By Sayonee Ghosh Roy

Before there was Jacqueline Fernandes, there was me. Cast a glance on the original babe of Sholay, arguably the only glam-factor in the entire, not her, that’s Basanti, look at the one standing next to her and I happen to have not one but two fine pairs of legs. There you go, that’s me – Dhanno. “Oh, how cute! One of those adorable animal memoirs!” you say. And not the regular, run-of-the-mill types either. The only person who can truly describe me is….of course, me! So sit back and pay attention and remember - you had it straight from the horse’s mouth.

Suppose, in an alternate universe, far, far away, the story of Sholay had actually played out in real life, then you cannot deny the paramount importance of my presence. I’m the only means by which one can reach Ramgarh, so I’m solely credited with bringing those two good Samaritans, Jai and Veeru, to our humble village. Okay, Basanti tagged along as usual, but the poor girl had come down with a bad case of verbal diarrhea that day, kyunki yun toh use zyada bolne ki aadat nahi. And yeah, I provide thoroughfare for the neighbouring villages as well. But Basanti pockets all the moolah! I wish I could say that I work for peanuts (and I would too!) but the silly girl thinks she can assuage me by putting fodder in front of me. Lagta hain uski akal ghaas chadne gayi hain.

Coming to this nuisance of Gabbar, it is common knowledge that once a month; his lackeys swoop down from the mountains to loot the village. The villagers are incredibly fed up with them and rightly so. Uncivilized men with even more uncivilized steeds!  Those studs never fail to make a pass at me during their monthly raids, but I always refuse and say ‘neigh’ to them. They may be tall and dark but definitely not handsome. When this fact finally penetrated their thick equestrian skulls, they went back with long faces. Strangely, their riders as well. I heard say later on, that Gabbar was questioning their basic arithmetic skills and had them shot for not being able to provide satisfactory answers. No wonder kids dislike Math these days. Oh well, what do I care? I’m just a stupid, dumb animal.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have any feelings! I have every right to be affronted and be wooed back with groveling songs, but no one let’s me enjoy, dammit! Everything was just fine with Veeru singing, “Koi haseena jab rooth jati hain….” for me (and perhaps Basanti as well, he seems to have a thing for her), when Gabbar’s cronies had to appear out of nowhere and ruin everything by giving us chase. That’s when Basanti panics like the silly goose that she is and goes all, “Chal Dhanno! Aaj teri Basanti ki izzat ka sawaal hain!!!” and I’m like, “Okayyyyyyyyy, don’t get your desi knickers in a twist” I was inclined to point out the selfishness of her above statement, but my self-piteous speech was cut short by taking one look at our attackers. Because there’s nothing worse than having to face jilted suitors (such persistent beasts, I tell you!) So, coupling the need to save my izzat along with Basanti’s , I ran.

I ran like the wind. I ran like lightning. But they were gaining on us and Basanti and Veeru were captured and the onus of taking the blame fell on me. Now before you can condemn me, I urge you to get off your high horse and examine the situation again. I could’ve just stopped, lazed around, probably taken a nap, but I didn’t. Sure enough, people figured out something was wrong once I appeared Basanti-less and for that act of common sense alone (move over Lassie, there’s a new rescuer in town), I should ascend to the ranks of Chetak and Bucephalus.

But once again, I must be pushed to the background because of the sad affair of Jai dying and all that. The whole of Ramgarh went into depression and now that they had more food grains for themselves as the extortion stopped (imagine and they didn’t even have to play a game of cricket to keep all of that, they had it easy, I tell you!), they all turned to eating to pull themselves out of it. And the first chance they got was at Basanti‘s and Veeru’s wedding, which was, as you remember, so graciously solicited by Mausiji (no one asked me for my consent, hmpf!) Everyone ate like a horse.

 And was I invited? Of course. The esteemed wedding rituals calls for the groom to arrive on a ghodi, don’t they? Stupid, podgy Veeru! He needs to sing me a song to make up for all of this.

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Sayonee Ghosh Roy
I humbly profess to be spoilt, pampered brat with old-school upbringing. You could let me loose in a book-store and I'd never come out, except if you lure me out with coffee and Italian food.


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