Wanting to see a movie was one thing, finding a suitable time to watch it was another. Not that there was any dearth of personal time, but trying to conceal the fact that I was going to a movie was a tough one. Initially the standard ruse was that I was going to a friend’s place for joint study. After a couple of movies, folks at home caught on. Afterall the timing always coincided with the matinee show time: 3 pm to 6 pm! Somehow all the movie theaters in the city had a fixed time those days, 3 to 6, 6-9 and 9-12. Slowly this lie evolved something more elegant. I would step out during the interval and phone up my folks and explain to them (very quickly, before the second half of the movie started) that I was extending my study period by another hour and a half. Another variant was telling them that I was actually on my way home but my cycle had got punctured. Folks would bite into the story initially. Remember that the mobile revolution had not started yet; far from it, land lines were few and far between (we were the only ones on the road where we lived to have a phone connection). Little would they suspect that I would be making a phone call during the interval from a movie hall! However there was a catch; the cycle puncture routine began getting too common, and my time away from home was the same three hours.
And then came the very inspired one from S. This one ought to enshrined in the Hall of Fame of moviegoers (if such a body exists!). Like all things brilliant, this was elegance and simplicity rolled into one. We would routinely watch a movie several times in the course of the few weeks it ran in town. The first viewing was to take in the story, plot etc. After that a movie was watched for specific scenes, songs, dances etc. So the great S said, how would it matter if one saw the first half first or last during the second viewing. This must sound confusing, so let me explain. Either S or I would go and watch the first half of the movie, come out during the interval when the other person would hang around near the cycle stand. The ticket stub would be passed and off the other would go to see the remaining half of the film. Simple! How did it matter whether while watching Trishul you saw Amitabh Bachchan lighting the dynamite fuse with his beedi stub on day one (while watching the first half) and several days later while watching the second half see the Big B exchanging loaded dialogues with Sanjeev Kumar. Magical moments are magical, never mind the sequence in which they come!
PS: Good things had to come to an end. One day, it was my turn to watch the first half of “Khoon Pasina”. I duly came out during the interval to the cycle stand and much to my horror I realized the chap running the stand had tied up rows of cycles together with a long chain and vanished somewhere. The chai-wallah informed me that the cycle chap would return only when it was time for the movie to end. There was no way I could go home minus my cycle. So I returned to the hall to enjoy the second half as well leaving a fuming S behind. When I met up with him later that evening, he was understandably furious accusing me of being selfish and wanting to see the entire length of the movie all by myself. (He did not buy the cycle stand story). And then the deal was called off, abruptly. Bye, bye to movie sharing