Ramesh Sippy's Sholay has been one of the beloved movies of all times in Indian cinema, and Gabbar Singh, the villain is more iconic than the film. The leading men of the time like Sanjeev Kapoor and Amitabh Bachhan were willing to give up their "hero" persona to play a villain. But now, fans can't imagine anyone else other than Amjad Khan playing the role.
Amjad Khan immortalised the role of Gabbar Singh but had almost lost the film before they even began shooting. According to a report in India Today, the role was offered to Amjad by the film's writers, Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan, when Danny Denzongpa was the one originally signed. Due to schedule issues and prior commitments,it was hard for him to continue working on Sholay.
Javed Akhtar remembered seeing Amjad Khan in Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon and was impressed enough to mention him to his writing partner, Salim Khan. They offered to take him to Ramesh Sippy, claiming that Gabbar is the finest role in the biggest film at the time. And later on, during an interview, Ramesh Sippy revealed that he wanted to cast Amjad after that first meeting. "The writers brought him and the moment he entered the room, I knew we had our man".
However, Amjad Khan's unconventional voice was seen by many as a major dampener for the film, leading the writers asking Ramesh Sippy to reconsider Amjad for the role. Gabbar was one of the most important and well-written character, and writing duo Salim-Javed didn't want to spoil the film. But director Sippy chose to stick with Amjad for Gabbar Singh and it turned out to be the right decision.
While Sholay, at first, was considered to be a flop, by the end of its tenth week in the theatres, the film was declared a superhit, thanks to people lining up outside the theatres to see Jay, Veeru and Gabbar Singh.