Some of you may remember from my earlier pieces on Cinemania (#1, 2, 3) that I was an ardent Hindi movie buff and that I kept a log of my movie-watching in a diary which survives till this date even after some 30 odd years. This piece is on a certain quirk I had- lasting several years- of seeing a movie on my birthday. Come hell or high water, illness or exams, this was a sacrosanct event; I had to see a movie on birthday which falls on 2nd September. The movie crazy guy that I was, I kept all details in my blue diary of the movies watched, name of the movie, date, and the theater in which I saw the movie. This piece heavily relies on my diary.
It was in 1977 I started this birthday movie ritual. This movie was something which I am sure you would not have heard of, even I would not have remembered but for the diary and the fact that I saw the movie on this special day. The movie was called “Adimanav”. Prehistoric man (and woman) in case you have not been able to understand the meaning. Nataraj was the cinema hall we saw it in, the Nataraj Cinema which I have described in some detail in Cinemania 1.
I do not remember much about the movie except that there were this bunch of heavy set “men” and very buxom “women” wearing skirts made of leaves and twigs in the movie. At the clink of a flint stone they would jump on each other and start mating. Or, to enliven the atmosphere further they start spearing other adimanav who would dare to as much a cast a lusty glance on their mates. I say mates here as I do not remember whether they were married or not as I cannot recollect any sindoor or mangalsutra on their women. Those were pre-historic times so the currently-in-vogue matrimonial symbols may have been non-existent. Maybe a bone pierced through a thread adorning their necks was the symbol.
What is important to note is that this was the first movie I saw after bunking my school-classes. I still can not figure out how we managed to do this given the rather strict discipline standards in Loyola, Jamshedpur, those days. And I still wonder why we did not get caught subsequently. And even more importantly this was the first-ever adult movie I saw. And that was the day I had turned 16! Man, I came of age on 2nd September 1977!
For those of you who are curious, the movie prior to this I saw was Khan Dost on 30th August at Jamshedpur Talkies. “Khan Dost”, like many of the movies I saw in that era is an eminently forgettable movie starring Raj Kapoor as a jail cop and Shatrughan Sinha as a jailed criminal and their unlikely friendship. I do not remember the story- line much but I still remember a great Manna Dey song from the movie “Meri zindagi mujhpey roye”. I saw “Aafat” on the day following my birthday, on 3rd September, at Karim Talkies. It was another of those forgettable movies starring Navin Nischol and Leena Chandavarkar. So forgettable that even I, a die-hard movie buff, do not remember anything about the movie.
1977 was the year in which I appeared for my Std X exam (ICSE) in November. My diary records that I saw a total of 34 movies in the year. This was just the beginning of my Cinemania!
1978 was a very happy year for me. The Std X exams (ICSE) had got over in November of the prior year. I was to join a college in Nagpur whose session started only in end-August. So there were eight months of sheer bliss! My father did enroll me for Maths coaching in preparation for the IIT-JEE. And this was a blessing in disguise as the hours away from home would give me an opportunity to catch up on movies without raising suspicions at home. And then August onwards, while at Nagpur, I stayed in a hostel, for the first time ever. Nagpur also had some 25 cinema halls which was 4-5 times more than what Jamshedpur could boast of. So my first full month in Nagpur, September, I saw no less than 10 movies! This, of course, also helped in escaping the rather nasty ragging in the college hostel.
The birthday movie of the year was “Damaad”, a nice-to-watch, light and easy movie starring Amol Palekar and Ranjeeta. This was at Saroj theatre which was a considerable distance from my hostel. What was much more interesting, certainly for a teenager like me, was the movie I watched a day prior to my birthday. “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram” the Raj Kapoor movie with Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman in the lead. The scar-faced but gorgeously blouse-less Zeenat Aman! If you have not seen the movie then you must watch it for Zeenat’s sake. Shashi Kumar is a civil engineer in this movie, he would have had a great revision in the principles of cantilever courtesy Zeenat A. Some great music too, including the last song of Mukesh: “Chanchal, sheetal, nirmal, komal’. I scored a hat-trick by watching another movie on 3rd Sept.: “Anjane Mein”, a Rishi Kapoor/ Neetu Singh movie, I do not remember anything about the movie but for the title song. This was probably sung by Nirupa Rai on the screen, “Ai mere laal, ai mere phool, anjane mein bhi tujhsey na ho bhool”. Too cool. I am sure she was setting up the story for some disaster to befall her laal, Rishi Kapoor.
The most significant thing about 1978 was the series of Amitabh Bachchan block-busters released that year: “Trishul” which I saw 1st day, 1st show on 5th May. What a movie! Remember the initial scenes when AB appears? “Jisne pachchis saal sey apni maa ko ghut-ghut kar martey dekha ho…”? “Kasme Vaade”, where he has a double role, “Don” (which I saw at Nagpur a few months after its release), “Ganga Ki Saugandh” and one of the all-time Big B greats, “Mukaddar Ka Sikandar”.
And if you are curious, I saw 69 movies in 1978; a movie every five days. And I was to prepare for IIT JEE that year!!
Another great year for Big B fans. “The Great Gambler”, “Jurmaana”, “Adalat”, “Mr Natwarlal”, “Kala Patthar” and “Suhaag“. I saw most of the new releases several times and for good measure I even caught up with the re-runs of movies I had missed. “Deewar” (I had not seen “Deewar” till 1st Feb 1979, and I made good this lapse many times over in subsequent years!), “Ek Nazar” (Lovely songs: “Pyaar ko chahiye bas ek nazar, Patta-patta boota-boota, Pehle sau baar idhar aur udhar dekha hai).
For once, the birthday movie in 1979 was not from Bollywood, but from Hollywood. Stephen Spielberg’s cult classic “Close encounters of the third kind”. We had all gone as a big group from the hostel and the movie was most enjoyable.
What were even more enjoyable were the movies I saw before and after this one. On 29th August I saw, for the second time, “Kala Patthar”. This, to my mind, is one of the most under-rated movies of AB. Not only AB was great, but the entire cast. Notable among them being Raakhee, Parikshat Sahni as a truck driver and the great Shatrughan Sinha as Mangal Singh (remember his scene stealers; “Teesra badshah mein hoon…”, “meri bholi banjaran..”?). Never mind how a disgraced sailor (AB) reaches Dhanbad riding on a guilt train! This movie was made on the real-life Chasnala disaster in the Dhanbad area. It was not a hit, but to me it is one of the best films ever of AB. I do plan to write a post some day on the seven most under-rated films of AB and this will certainly find top mention.
The movie I saw after 2nd September was “Hamare Tumhare”. This Sanjeev Kumar and Raakhee starrer is a lovely movie about the marriage of a widow and a widower both with their own children from their prior marriages. “Khatta Meetha” (Ashok Kumar and Pearl Padamsee) was also based on a similar theme. And both were based on a Hollywood movie “Yours, mine and ours”! “Hamare Tumhare” had some fabulous music by RD, remember “Ham aur tum the saathi”? And Kishore’s magical “Jadoo dar gayo re..”?
And in case you want to know, I did not find a place in the IIT-JEE qualifiers list that year. I am sure you are not surprised. Are you?
To be continued
(Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!)