So You Are a Movie Buff, Eh?
TerritorialMale Saturday, March 11, 2006
Saturday afternoons were spent in movie halls all through high school. A close friend and I scouted through the town for a watchable movie each weekend after school. Yes, there was the occasional porn but we weren't too much into it. Nothing has a more numbing effect (both body and soul) than porn overdone (overseen?). Anyway, that phase is over and done with. It was a dismal period for movie hall owners. The theatres were sparsely populated even on weekends and business was horrible. It was quite evident from the seats that spilled its innards, unkempt floors and unsanitary condition of the toilets.
"Sit anywhere." was the usual response from the ushers. That therein speaks for itself. What was the cause? Cable TV I guess. Cable was the nouveau means of entertainment. Gone were the days of the only state run channel, Doordarshan. StarTVTM, ZeeTVTM, MTVTM and what not, opened up new vistas of amusement. The Pandora's Box had been opened and so things would never be the same again. There came a day when the last of the theatres closed down. Up sprouted little video halls all over town. They were nothing but small rooms with terrible lighting and benches and chairs to seat about 20 to 50 with a video upfront. Tickets were cheap and business flourished. A whole new class of video halls was established. Each video hall dedicated itself to either Hollywood or Bollywood - and located in the dark alleys were ones which showed x-rated stuff. None of them were legal in the eyes of the law, but the police looked the other way. Probably because they kept people off the streets, generated some form of employment and some capital for themselves. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. Every owner raked in the moolah. Some of the profits made its way into updating these dingy little halls. Good chairs were brought in and the popular ones even had large screen TVs and Dolby Surround® sound systems installed.
On one such visits we chanced upon a movie called Amazonia. The reason for the choice could be attributed to the bare naked ladies in the poster stuck outside. I still rate it as among the best movies I've seen so far. The movie was based on a true-life incident about a woman kidnapped by a forest tribe after beheading her parents. The movie revolved around her experiences with these people. It painted a beautiful picture of the culture and customs of these forest dwellers, whom we term 'uncivilized'. Our protagonist in the movie is betrothed to her captor without her consent. Strange customs, marriage to her captor (also her parent's murderer) and the ghastly sight of her parent's heads putrefying outside the Chief's hut make her life a living hell. She is indifferent and hostile to her husband, as would anybody in that situation be. She later learns that hubby dearest wasn't the one who killed her folks. They had actually been shot with poison darts by another couple (her aunt and uncle). The man (who had been observing in hiding) had merely removed the heads from the corpses. The ending was rather poignant.
My movie collection never took off. I had just a few cartoon movies and Charlie Chaplin treats to whine about. I cannot be termed a movie buff like the IMDb guys. Unlike them, my movie-watching extravaganzas were few and far between. Thanks to HBO, Star Movies and Zee Studio, I seldom have need to go to the mall - newly constructed over the ruins of Rink Cinema. I am very picky about movies. This habit perhaps was inculcated during the few years I lived in the school as a boarder. Boarders did not have the freedom that dayscholars enjoyed. Freedom was bounded by the school walls and life was hectic and full of activities. Enjoyable, but on a different level. Saturday nights were reserved for class plays, debates and quizzes. The vacant Saturdays were filled in with movie shows. The school had an ancient projector which enlightened the screen with movies, censored in unjustified doses. We were thrust upon with oldies most of the time, perhaps of their modest content. They occasionally came up with classics such as Chase the Crooked Shadow. This, a thriller in black and white, haunts me even today. A very memorable show. Galileo Galilei was another unforgettable moving picture. Very slow. Very boring. I want to forget the 2 hours or more of torment we had to go through. Alas, I cannot!