Sholay! Brilliant movie, SAD! Could be a much worse film, but also HAPPY! Let me spread out before you an array of choices for last minute happiness after all.
Thakur Tells Jai and the Widow to Elope
Sholay presents a difficult ethical situation. It is possible that Thakur could call in his old police buddies for help getting Gabbar, they did arrest him before. Only then Gabbar would eventually be released and cause problems again. Thakur chose to dedicate himself to defeating Gabbar once and for all, whatever it took, taking all responsibility on himself personally and accepting that there will be many deaths of innocence along the way.
Anyway, what if he just gave up? Jai and Veeru defeat Gabbar’s men multiple times, and fall in love with Basanti and the Widow. Thakur gives permission his blessing for the Widow to marry Jai, and then everything suddenly goes horribly horribly wrong and, in a final attempt to defeat Gabbar, Jai dies. Okay, how do we avoid that?
What if Thakur gives permission to Jai and the Widow and then has a long night sitting up and watching the Widow’s happiness, which makes him realize that what he needs to do after the massacre of his family is not search for revenge, but search for happiness. The most important thing is for his one remaining family member (the Widow) to recover. He goes to Jai in the middle of the night and gives him money and insists that, if he loves the Widow, he needs to leave all of this behind immediately. Veeru senses Jai leaving and wakes up and watches him and the Widow eloping and understands. Jai and the Widow arrive at the train station and get on the train to discover, SURPRISE! Basanti and Veeru smiling and waiting for them. HAPPY ENDING. I mean, the villagers are still terrorized by a ruthless bandit and all that, but whatever, the villagers are kind of lame, all the cool people are happy and that’s what matters.
Thakur’s Police Friend Has Some Basic Responsibility
Remember at the beginning? Thakur Sahib calls on his old friend for help finding Jai and Veeru? And the friend delivers Jai and Veeru to him and then is like “I’m outtie!”
But what if he’s not? I’m not saying the stupid censor ending at the last minute, more something towards the middle. Just as Jai and Veeru seem to be finding their way, maybe post the scene when they scare off the enforcers, suddenly Thakur’s old friend arrives with like a dozen police officers and announces he is setting up camp in the village to capture a dangerous escaped criminal, Gabbar. Jai and Veeru bring up the possibility of working with the police, but Thakur rejects it, he wants vengeance himself.
For the rest of the film, Thakur gets darker and darker. Jai and Veeru at first are with him, they don’t trust the police much anyway. But as Thakur gets more extreme and determined, Jai and Veeru begin to think perhaps it is his vengeance that is the bigger danger than Gabbar. Thakur’s vengeance obsession leads to the death of young Salim and that is the final line for Jai and Veeru. They tell Thakur the next day that they have captured Gabbar and will bring Thakur to him. But it is a trick, the police are there instead. Thakur asks what is happening, and Jai and Veeru explain that Thakur has become “Gabbar”, his single-minded obsession with revenge has made him into a monster just as Gabbar is a monster. The police arrested Gabbar the night before with no problems, now they are hear to arrest Thakur. And then the Widow comes out and admits that she is the one who helped them plan how to capture Thakur. This is the final straw, he collapses in sobs as he understands what he has become.
Veeru Keeps His Gosh Darn Date with Basanti!
In a larger sense, the ending of Sholay is inevitable, good must confront evil, sacrifices must be made, and so on. But in a small sense, it is all because Veeru can’t keep a date!
Basanti is all alone, waiting in a remote area for Veeru so they can kiss and spoon and stuff without all the nosey villagers watching. Veeru is late, so there is loads of time for the bandits to discover her and chase her, leading to her being captured, leading to Veeru going to save her, leading to him being captured, leading to Jai rescuing them both, leading to them trying to escape back to safety, leading to Jai volunteering to stay back and protect their escape, leading to Jai dying (noooooo!).
But what if Veeru remembered how to tell time like an Adult Person? He would be waiting all alone by the lake when Basanti arrives. The bandits would have come upon them together. Veeru would have chased them off, big gun fight, Jai would know just where they were because Veeru (like a sensible person in the middle of a dangerous situation) would have told Jai where he was going. Jai would have shown up to help, all three of them would have escaped back to the villager, and for once the gosh-darn villagers would have actually done something and supported them, Gabbar is defeated, Happy Village Celebration Song. And then Jai and Veeru would settle down in the village just like they dreamed with the women they loved, and Thakur would be a happy honorary Grandpa to all their kids. Okay, he still wouldn’t have arms, but otherwise, Happy Happy!