My father was a movie fan when he was younger and I think I got his genes for being crazy about the movies. He is no longer interested in movies but my mother tells me that he used to buy books that had lyrics of Hindi movie songs. He also had a cassette collection, which had entire movies recorded on it. As a child, I must have heard the movies "Sholay" in its entirety more than 30 times and "Muqaddar ka Sikandar" for more than 15 times on our cassette player, even before I saw these movies on Television. I still remember all the dialogues of 'Sholay' very clearly, such was the power of cinema.
The thrill of watching any movie first day, first show can not be experienced now. Today, one can sit comfortably in their own home and book tickets and even select their own seats. The hard work that took to procure tickets for a movie that is booked solid for weeks felt like an adventure. The joy of watching a movie before any of your friends made you feel great. I can still remember the peculiar mixture of sweat, urine and Samosas that permeated many of the theatres. Standing in a long line to book tickets was the usual norm. The man behind the ticket counter was akin to god and I would be praying all the time that the tickets would get sold out only after I had my movie ticket in my hand.
While growing up, it was a big treat to see a movie and also get to eat Samosas and drink chilled Gold Spot in the interval. Popcorn was not so good as it would turn my fingers Yellow, but now I enjoy it a lot. Buying movie tickets in Black, by paying extra to some unscrupulous character was frowned upon, but was considered necessary, when the movie was a super hit and you just had to see it.
The movie posters and banners used to be hand painted earlier and the resemblance of the stars on the poster to their actual photograph was completely at the mercy of the artist who painted the posters. These were later replaced by very colourful posters depicting a few of the scenes from the movie. Now, the posters are glossy, attractive and sometimes entice you to see a movie that turns out to be a total dud.
I remember the excitement I felt, when I would go to watch a movie. I would be eager to search my seat and wait for the movie to start. There used to be that inevitable National films division documentary, an advertisement for "Vicco Vajradanti" cream and toothpaste and some depressing Black and White short film about agriculture. I would get fidgety and restless and then the movie would start. Three hours would rush by and I would be mesmerised and engrossed in the fights scenes, songs and the histrionics of the actors.
The English movies were even a bigger treat as they were screened at only a few dedicated cinema halls. I have seen Benhur, Ten Commandments, Mackenna's Gold, Where Eagles dare and a lot of cowboy movies in the cinema hall with my sister. I had a secret crush on Charlton Heston and his Blue eyes.Many a times, I did not understand the American twang but the action scenes made the story quite clear. I have dragged so many of my friends to see even downright shoddy movies, such was the pull of cinema for me.
Even today, I feel the same excitement and thrill, when I book those tickets and buy that bucket of popcorn and sit to experience the wonder of cinema. For those three hours, I forget my worries and I am ready to be swept away on another wonderful adventure with the characters in the movie.
This is my tribute to the 100 years of Indian cinema and to all the people who take us to breathtaking places and introduce us to stories that enrich our lives and make us feel emotions, we never knew, we had.