Movies Movies

August 19, 2010


When all of my family members got fed up of my requests, tantrums and finally my silent non-cooperation movement, the maun-vrat, Grandpa agreed that I was old enough to watch a movie. Further he told Grandma that this freak needs to be silenced! The whole household discussed for a couple of days as to which was the movie that would most uncorrupt me. I was informed on a Saturday about the grand program that I would be taken to the movie theatre in the evening.

I publicized among all my friends that I would be watching a movie that day. Six PM Sharp.

Our town had but one theatre. It had a single row at the back, hidden behind a four feet parapet, which was called the ‘Box’. One third of the remaining theatre was for ‘Second class – Women’s’, another third for ‘Second class – Men’s’ and the last third was “Pit” where you sat on the floor and if you liked a song, a God or a goddess or a fight sequence, you would throw a coin at the screen.

I was seated in the “Second Class – Women’s” along with my Aunt. I noticed that the theater that day was reserved completely for ladyships. Most in the Second class knew me and petted me. I also had a doubt that I saw faces very similar to my schoolmates here and there and started repenting about that ‘six PM sharp’ timing. 

I looked at my Aunt. She said just wait until he movie starts.

Eventually, the theatre grew dark, the projector started, the screen was awash with pure white. But, instead of showing a movie, two live girls came on stage, in front of the screen and started dancing to the tune of “Nain se nain nahee milao, Dekhat surat aawat laaj….Saiyyan….”

I looked at my Aunt. She was busy watching the live dance routine and kept telling me to ‘watch what happens next’. The projector was shut down after the Dance routine, and normal floods lit the stage and were not estinguished until the very last. There were speeches, a prize distribution ceremony and further dances. This continued for an hour, by which time I was very sure that I was foxed.

We came home.

Only saving grace was that I had actually visited a theatre. However, the opportunity to boast in the school was wasted, since I was sure many in my class had attended that ‘movie’. Many an aunt, mothers and sisters had apparently celebrated a ‘fool’s-day’ with my friends, similar to me.

My non-cooperation movement continued when I had time for that.



With the advent of summer vacation, I went to my Parents’ town. When my mother inquired as to why I had grown dumb and mute this year, I had to tell her the movie story. She said she will see if she can arrange something.

The town fair was on. Every year there would be a number of Touring Talkies camping in the fair. The choice between incorruptible movies that were being screened was splendid.

One warm evening, I was told that I would be visiting the movie theatre today. I went along to the fair with an escort and two-three of my cousins. The escort took us to the Talky. The movie was “Jimbo”, a Tarzan clone. Our escort, instead of buying tickets, started talking to the doorkeeper. We were getting impatient as the theatre had already grown dark inside. After a few minutes, the doorkeeper allowed us to stand inside the door curtain, while he was talking to our escort. Just before I got accustomed to the dark interiors and Jimbo’s Chimp on the screen, all the children were brutally shoved out by the doorkeeper, saying “enough for one day”.

The escort was very wrestler-like and had a flowing double moustache that reached his double chin. As such, I kept mum.

“Movies? No!..Ice-creams are better!” He bellowed, and took us to an ice-cream parlor.

The rose cream was really good. I had no complaints about it. But Jimbo?

We came home. Mother thanked the escort. I told her the story of Jimbo and the Ice-cream. She said, ‘that person always messes things up’.

In the night when I was about to go to sleep, I could hear mother and father discussing this and laughing.

My efforts had to be continued further. Become dumber and muter!



Then that golden day arrived. Mother told me that I would definitely; definitely watch a movie with her. Full length. And it also had a Chimp.

I accompanied her.

Some of these Touring Talkies used to have the screen set in the middle. On one side would sit men and on the other side, women. The Projection Cabin would be on men’s side. All the seating would be in the dust. As such, you had to carry your own carpets with you. Fine! Labour of love!!

We were on women’s side. The movie started. ‘Insaniyat’ is the name, Mother said. The movie was fine so was the hero Dilip Kumar. Yes. It had a chimp, but all the characters were left-handed, even the hero and the villain. Every man wielded his sword, fought fight, caressed horses and every woman pinned her clothes or hair-do, lighted lamps, presented helmet, armor or sword to her husband or whoever was in front of her with Left hand. Even the chimp ate banana with its Left hand. Strange world of movies!

But I had done it at last!!


We went to our maternal uncle’s town – Burhanpur – during this vacation. I had one full length movie to my credit and I would not tire of narrating my interpretation of humanity or the ‘Insaniyat’ to my maternal uncle several times a day, every time changing the story a bit to my convenience. He listened patiently for a few days and then said, ‘We are also human, Insan, please spare us sometimes.This is too much for my ears; I need to take you to another movie’.

We went to a proper theatre this time. The theatre manager greeted us and we spent a few minutes with him in his cabin.

I was about to view a real, three-hour movie now, in a theatre which actually had ‘Electric Fans’. The lights faded and the velvet curtains rolled up. The happiness was enveloping me so much that I fell asleep within first ten minutes; before the titles stopped scrolling.

‘Which was the movie?’ I asked my uncle on our way back to home. A name or two is useful! He cursed me left and right; shaking his head every now and then shouting that he will have to face the ‘Insaniyat’ ordeal once again tomorrow.



2 Responses to “Movies Movies”

  1. Experiences can’t get more hilarious than these! 🙂 Wonderfully written, and also nice portrayal of the olden times, especially the traveling theaters, the sitting arrangements in them, and the general perception that ‘movies’ held in those days.

    It might sound a bit ironic, but your early experiences themselves can be good material for short movies today! 🙂

  2. PeACEMAKER Says:

    Thanks Nikhil. People are asking me whether all this writing is true to life. Really, such was the past albeit a bit spiced here and there, say 1 %.

    Sorry for delay in replying. I was out of station for a few days.

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