Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cinema Halls in India

Watching a Bollywood movie in a theater hall in India is an experience unlike any other. Especially if you go to a middle of the road hall somewhere in the city. But even the glossier suburban editions are not without their quirks. When I was growing up I used to go watch Mithun Chakraborthy’s pulpy movies in Sagar Cinema, one of the worst halls in Vadodara. There would be at least one instance when a rat would brush up against your feet following by a cat hard on its heels. Initially I would lift my feet up and go WTF. Then my comfort level rose to where I would raise my feet without even taking my eyes off the screen. Finally I became enough of a regular that I would barely even move my feet.

More recently when watching a movie in Galaxie in Nodia, I felt a “cat” brushing up against my feet (I was in the aisle seat). Scarcely believing this, I turned to see a small baby, still less than a year old, crawling up the stairs and hugging my shoes. Apparently Dad was letting his baby girl exercise her newly found crawling skills up and down the side stairs. He had gotten a bit engrossed in one of the scenes and had forgotten about baby. And here she was, sidling up to the wrong Dad. Later, she essayed a few bellows, forcing Dad to tear his eyes off Aishwarya and run to attend to her.

One of my favorite cinema hall stories is that of a good friend who took his NRI friend, who was visiting India to see Ghayal in Mumbai. They got seats jammed up against the wall but there was a banister that ran the length of the hall next to them. Midway through the second half the NRI friend felt a little cat crawling down the banister and rubbing up against him. Determined not to let his newly found prejudices prevent him from enjoying India in all its glory, the NRI reached out and petted the cat in the dark, which it seemed to like a lot and became absolutely still. The NRI continued to enjoy the movie in the company of his new animal friend. When the lights came on and the NRI glanced at his friend he shrieked. For it was not a cat, but a gigantic rat looking back lovingly at him. The NRI ran straight out of the hall with both his arms up in the air and stretched out in front of him. In a Bollywood cinema hall, even rats are full of maya.


Damozel said...

Extremely howlacious!!!

Kanan said...

LMAO! @ the last para.

It only happens in India... tra la la la la

Pitu said...

Hahaha! BTW, Kanan, it does *only* happen in India- it can also happen in pardes :-D The first Hindi I saw in a theater in Chicagoland was 8 yrs ago- I went to Des Plaines theater which was HIDEOUS! There were chuhas there, I kid you not. And one uncle spat paan on the pavement outside the theater. The inside was also littered with soda cans/ plastic wrappers etc. HORRENDOUS! I later found out that this theater was owned by Dawood Ibrahim- haan wohi don... Thankfully, I soon discovered AMC in Barrington and my desi dil ki bhadaas kam ho gayi!

Pitu said...

bah.. it *doesn't* happen only in India.