Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chalo Cinema Chalein- Let's go to the movies

I have been enchanted with movies since my childhood, especially Hindi cinema, just like any other living, breathing Indian. Cinema is an integral part of our lives and how much ever we deny it, we are crazy for our Bollywood movies and its music.
 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. 

Going to the movies has always been a magical experience for me. The city where I grew up had no multiplexes. We had single cinema halls that screened 4 shows in a day, with the first show starting at 12 noon, the next would be at 3 pm, then 6 pm and the last show was screened at 9 pm. If my sister and I wanted to see the 6 pm show, we needed to take permission from our parents and the night show was always out of bounds. All the movie halls had three types of seating arrangement. There was a Reserve category, which was cheapest price wise and was closest to the screen. The next was Balcony which was costlier and had some of the best seats and the last was stall, which was a raised balcony with very few seats and was exclusive. I never could afford the price for stall tickets and till now have never seen a movie from that section. 

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.

6 comments:

C. Suresh said...

Very redolent with memories for me. The number of times I have had the ticket window slammed shut in my face :)

A bit of a coincidence - I just completed a couple of movies-based posts and now this one :)

umashankar pandey said...

I can relate to those words -letters, syllables, commas and full stops, except probably the end. Good Hindi movies are few and far between. And hey, My life started with listening to the LP of Sholay being played next door at full volume, with the sounds of that train coming, Thakur, Basanti, Jai, Veeru and Gabbar.... It has been imprinted forever.

Joe Zach said...

Yes those lyrics books were a must in the olden days.

bchowla said...

I have been a movie fan myself and have had a massive collection of Cassettes---epecially one without the Ads---.
But,it s a pity,they dont films like Sholey and Funtoosh any more

Rachna said...

Oh yes, the magic is still there when the screen goes dark and we clutch our popcorn in excitement. When we were younger, one of the lures of watching the movie in the theatre was the popcorn and cold drinks. We had it so rarely in those days :). And all those fantastic movies over the years. What would we do without movies! A great nostalgic post.

Shilpa Garg said...

This post is a perfect tribute to celebrate cinema. Movies and cinema had minuscule presence in our growing up years but we made up for that after college.

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