June 16, 2008
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
June 16, 2008
Des Pardes, the opus from Dev Anand was set to be released. Jamshedpur had the honor of being a part of the national release. (Typically in Jamshedpur movies were released 6-8 weeks after the national release). And how could we not but be a part of history. But there was a small catch, there was no advance booking for this movie and tickets were sold just before the show. So undeterred on that Friday afternoon S and I took out our respective cycles and started on the five kilometer distance to the theater having resolved that come what may, we have to see the first day, first show. Parents were of course told that we are going for some joint study with classmates! (they had still not begun suspecting my joint study stories, and when the did, I deftly changed the rules; but more about that later.).
Jamshedpur Talkies appeared to have been invaded by half the population of the city. There were people queuing up in the cage-like enclosures leading up to the ticket counters, there were people swimming over the heads of the queued people crawling ahead holding the rods of the cage roofing. There were people thronging the periphery of the cage trying to figure out a way of getting into the queue. And there were people milling around the pan shops making small talk with the panwallahs hoping that he would somehow secure them a ticket. People around the cart of the guy selling roasted peanuts. People nearly trampling the guy on the pavement selling movie song booklets. People clambered on all elevated features around the area trying to take in the tamasha (these guys were not very hopeful of getting a ticket but wanted to be a part of the system anyway so that they could spin yarns about this momentous event later this evening in the addas with their friends. I, the weak-hearted one, whispered to S that there was no way we could get tickets. But the ever-optimistic S admonished me telling nothing great in life happens without some hard-work. We parked our cycles some distance from the theater and plunged into the throng determined to emerge successful. Soon enough, S who was considerably stronger than I penetrated deep into the crowd, and I was left to fend for myself. I did make some feeble attempts to seek some tickets but soon enough I had to get out of the crowd lest I got trampled upon. I stood besides the peanut vendor catching my breath and wiping away the sweat. S was nowhere to be seen. I had given up all hopes of seeing the movie when suddenly S appeared with a triumphant look on his face. As he emerged from the crowd I saw he and several other people were actually tailing another guy. A few quick strides and the Pied Piper went and stood under a lamppost across the road. A small circle surrounded pied Piper, S being one of them. The next five seconds were sheer magic. A quick exchange of currency notes and tickets happened between S and Pied Piper and there we were, part of the lucky few to have secured the movie tickets. (S later told me that sometime earlier he had “befriended” Pied Piper, a black marketer and PP had kindly agreed to part with the tickets to S. The premium was hefty – Rs 15 for a Rs 3.20 ticket- but what is a little premium between friends, especially when this enables you to be part of a historic moment!) First Day, First Show; here we come. It was just a small matter of parking the cycles in the authorized cycle stand of the theater and finding your way to your seat numbers. But then there was a small catch, S’s bike was missing. Gone! S’s brand new green Hercules cycle was missing while my old black Avon cycle was very much there. Hey S, what will you do now. S looked thoughtful for a while. He walked a few paces to the left, and a few paces to the right, probably thinking that someone may have moved his cycle around just for the heck of it. Of course there was no new green Hercules cycle to be found. And then I made the mistake of telling him that the omen was not good and that we should abort the mission and return home. What I got in return was a withering why-am-I-stuck-with-an-idiot look and then a quick smile. Santosh, don’t be silly, cycles come and cycles go, first day, first show happens only once. Let us go in the theater before it becomes too late. And that settled the matter.
The movie of course was a riot! We returned home on my cycle. me on the pillion of course! I asked him on the way what he would tell his parents about the cycle. He said that he would just tell them that he never did take the cycle and the cycle was parked near the gate of their house. And that he had no idea what happened to it. True, so what is a cycle or two when you had the privilege of watching Tina Munim emerging out of a beer keg, first day first show!