This post is dedicated to all those who stay in big cities, witnessing the enormous changes in their life styles, but still remain non-city slickers in their hearts.
I am neither a movie buff, nor do I own a TV (or more appropriately, I can’t afford it) and I am unaware of the cable TV bliss that the more fortunate ones enjoy. I belong to a generation that had a single TV channel at their dispense and it was called “Doordarshan”. That black & white Uptron TV (Of the “its on, its on, its Uptron” fame. The model name was Urvashi and it came with a shutter and a lock to be used frequently during our examination days) which made Master Haveli Ram a household name and Deepika Chikhalia a MP, (courtesy her Sita Mata role in Ramayan) remained the only source of information of the upcoming movies. Then there were couple of other sources like “Punjab Kesari” newspaper and magazines like “Mayapuri“, but those could be found only in the barber’s shop (nobody knew the word saloon) and were read by the curious customers based on a strict rotation policy 😉
Well, let me not digress and to say that I was dragged up to the theatre to see a movie last month would be an exaggeration. Not much persuasion was required as soon as I realized that it was a Gulzar-Vishal Bhardwaj combo flick. (Mind you, I am not writing the movie review here. The name wouldn’t have mattered much to me even if it would have been called Kuttey, Kameeney, whatever). Gulzar was reason enough for me to head to the theatre, but I am almost always reluctant to see a movie in a multiplex, for two reasons. First, the tickets are obscenely costly, and second (the more profound of the two) it doesn’t give me the liberty to whistle when the lights are turned off ;-). People here give me a disgusting look, if I do so.
Circa 1997. I am trying to kill time in the scorching heat in the by-lanes of Lajpat Nagar in Delhi. I was staying at a cousin’s place and forgot to collect the keys. Left with no option, I find a movie theatre somewhere near to the market. Luckily, the show timings are just 45 mins away and I get ample time to grab my lunch. Bun-samosa, half plate chowmein and a glass of “ganney ka ras” (sugarcane juice) costs me 14 Rs. I get inside the theatre premises and stand in a queue for the cheapest available ticket. It is the second running week for the movie “Betaabi” and there are hardly 10 of us in the queue. Neither Chandrachoor Singh nor Arshad Warsi could attract the janta and it was perhaps left on the leading ladies to show off some skin to somehow make it totter till the second week. The ticket is priced at Rs 15 and I get my seat in the second row from front. There isn’t a single female in the whole theatre. The guy sitting right to me, makes himself comfortable by keeping his stretched legs in the front chair. The other one, sitting towards my left, is already excited and has started spitting the juicy beetle leaves that he is chewing near to my feet. I make my guess, it could either be Rajdarbaar or Talab or even a Manikchand (all different brands of guthka) or it could be desi jarda or khaini with mysterious names like “Nevla” or “Kuber“.
The lights are turned off and Jackie Shroff emerges in one of the Red & White cigarette ads. “Sachchey log, sachcha anand” he says and a strange frenzy prevails, followed by countless number of whistles. I get excited as well and participate with utmost sincerety. After couple of advertisements, the movie starts and we all settle down. The movie seems insipid to me, but people are glued to their seats. During interval, the spitting guy breaks the ice and says a single sentence – “Bhai, filum to badhiya hai” (The movie is good). I seem puzzled but dare not ask him reasons for badhiya. He swallows the whole new packet of guthka again, but I fail to see the brand. I curse myself for my poor vision and move out to buy a 2 rupee popcorn. Post interval, enter Mayuri Kango (the leading lady in the second half) with her thunder thighs and the hall goes live again. This time it is not only the whistles trying to outplay each others decibel levels, but also the choicest expletives that come out naturally from a typical Indian male when he sees an irresistible babe. Arshad Warsi too gets his share of swears for being able to do a sensuous song sequence with the lady 😉
The movie ends in a typical Bollywood style happy ending and we all move out of the theatre, well contented with the paisa vasool feeling. Three hours, with food and entertainment had cost me just 31 Rupees.
Back to 2009. A Bangalore multiplex, movie ticket is priced at Rs 180, for the same front rows and the price of popcorn nearly gave me a stroke.
Image source: Internet