Cinema. Anybody interested in anagrams will have noticed that rather modestly, the word itself says ‘am nice’. In fact, it is magical. But I don’t want to turn pseudo-critic and deliver an essay on the art of cinema. I want to share three (because that’s the date) anecdotes related to cinema and cinema halls, in no particular order.
1. I was rather disappointed with Hollywood movie The Fighter. Christian Bale, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, plays a drug addict in the film, and hence, his look in specific and the film in general were very different from what I had hoped for – something more in the lines of The Dark Knight. But that is not why I remember this film. Turns out people book cheap tickets for a morning show of an Oscar-winning film for different reasons. Making out, for example. The hall was hardly filled to 30% of its capacity. There was probably no one else in my row. Halfway through the film, feeling as if someone was pushing my seat with her/his feet, I turned back irritated. A couple was sitting behind me; the guy on the seat and the girl on his lap. While he seemed to be dividing his attention between the screen and his partner, her entire attention was given to such gestures of interest as would have won any film at least a U/A certificate. No doubt the show behind me could have given competition to the show going on in front, but I felt no interest in watching it. In fact, I lost no time in moving to a different seat. I doubt if they noticed, but I was certainly relieved. In a short time, I realised that those two were not the only couple who had felt horny, been told to get a room, and had the bright idea of using one which also happened to be a cinema hall. After a much milder version of this experience was repeated the same year while watching Bollywood flick My Name is Khan, I added a private cinema hall to my list of things to get if and when I am rich.
2. A film where Brad Pitt gets younger with every passing year – well, you got me at Brad. When I sat down to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I found myself beside a group of excited young girls – of the age where going to watch a film with friends is still deliciously novel. I remember two of their reactions very well, and rather fondly. One was at a scene where Brad Pitt is driving a motor boat, white foam swelling up all around the boat as he cruises through the blue water, his hair flying in the wind. The character was getting older, and so Brad was looking younger. Sigh. As his boat curved into the screen, the group of girls beside me gave a collective gasp. I had outgrown the age of gasps. I merely widened my eyes. But in my mind, I uttered a sympathetic ‘I know!”
The second reaction was at a love-making scene. It wasn’t intense or explicit at all; on the other hand, rather playful. When the couple on screen kissed, the girls beside me seemed to hold their breaths. But when it appeared to be in undress (white sheets, bare shoulders), they seemed to be divided between fascination and shock. I believe there were a couple of ‘tut-tut’s. It seemed as if my young fellow-viewers still enjoyed a platonic notion of love. Probably they were already on the verge of outgrowing it, but that reaction at that moment felt rather sweet.
Years later, while watching Hindi candy floss Student of the Year, I found myself near a similar group, and this time, the collective gasps went out whenever newcomers Varun Dhawan or Siddharth Malhotra ran in slo-mo or emerged from the water topless. I had grown older, and they are no Brad Pitt. This time, I merely thought, “Oh please!”
3. Shall I write about the first movie I watched alone? Or the first movie for which I purchased tickets in ‘black’ (from illegal sellers outside the hall)? The movie that was withdrawn from halls four days after its release? Or the one I watched from the first row, sitting on my father’s lap, getting bitten by mosquitoes, as a four-year-old? Maybe someday I should try and write down all those stories. This time, I want to finish with something common to every time I have watched a film on big screen. No matter how mediocre it turned out to be, no matter how little I expected of it, every time the curtains have gone up inside a cinema hall, the lights have gone out and silence has descended, I have felt a thrill of anticipation. As if something wonderful is about to begin. It’s been 20 years since Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (one of the first ‘Bollywood blockbusters’) released, but I still love its title song; I still remember Madhuri Dixit blushing and Salman Khan smiling in the deceptively innocent manner he reserves for Suraj Barjatya’s family entertainers. Probably because it was the first time that I had the feeling – as the titles began rolling and the music started playing – of being ushered into a new, magical and fascinating world.
KM is my friend and reclusive writer who loves sharing her words but not her identity. Her blog Tithi Katha (translated as, ‘Tithi’s Tales’) is a treasure trove of her life experiences and vivid imagination. So, this April, the social media friendly me is going to share with you, every Thursday, KM’s writing. So stay tuned for more.