Movies are no longer memory milestones

02 Nov,2022

 

 

By Sanjeev Kotnala

 

Sanjeev KotnalaThe movie theatre experience has changed from a multi-week successful run on single screens to weekend success across multiplexes.  From a time people would smoke inside the theatre and even step out to their favourite tea shop during intervals to a highly closed, no concession experience.  Have not seen a song-and-dance or throwing of coins during item numbers or aarti done of the stars because they played god and goddesses in a movie.

The small single screen slowly kept getting out of the system and the multiplexes multiplying. The movies released in multiple screens survived two weeks with decent runs became the new hit. The print, sound quality, projection, and VFX technology enhanced the experience. However, there has been a shift in audiences preferring to watch movies on TV and over OTT platforms.

Movies for me have been more than entertainment. Some movie experiences are memorable life milestones. There were set timings, unlike today when you have a show starting every 30 minutes. The whole movie-going task needed planning. It was an event, the main event of that day. ‘First Day, First Show’ was a concept that many collegegoers religiously followed- at least when the movie featured their favourite stars. And the hero-heroines were Hero Heroines, part of one’s fantasies. There were no behind-the-scenes that killed the fun and awe of watching action.

My life is packed with such milestone movie experiences  in the late seventies and early eighties, when I was in high school or moved to college. What about you?  I wonder why when I have seen so many movies in the last two decades, there is hardly a memorable experience.

 

FAMILY OUTING: Hare Rama Hare Krishna, 1971

I saw Dev Anand’s ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ on the only screen in Lansdowne, Garhwal. Movie outing was a family affair but a rare occurrence. Dev Anand’s movie was considered a safe bet for family viewing. The highlight was Zeenat Aman in the song Dum Maro Dum.

 

THE BUBBLY LOVE: BOBBY, 1974

I was in Class 4 or 5 when it was released. I saw it from the second row of Imperial Talkies, Paharganj, right next to an uncle’s house. I don’t think it was rated ‘A’ and clearly there were no checks on who saw the  movie. One became a fan of Dimple Kapadia for a few years.

I remember, When we reached home, we were royally scolded and punished because we were missing without informing anyone. But my cousin, elder brother, and I kept the secret.

 

THE DIALOGUE LP: SHOLAY, 1975

You could hear Sholay dialogues played in every community function event. In fact, we could recite the dialogue in sequence.  Kitne Aadmi The, Sardar Maine Aapka Namak Khaya Hai, Toh Tumarah Naam Kya Hai Basanti all iconic dialogues that became part of life. 

 

THE RELIGIOUS FEVER: JAI SANTOSHI MAA, 1975 

Jai Santoshi Maa took smaller towns by storm. It ran for weeks; Women watched it multiple times and did aarti of the screen. I remember going for it with my mother and her friends, sitting in the women’s section of Sharada Talkies in Gorakhpur market, Jabalpur.

 

STAR TREK: THE MOVIE FROM SCHOOL, 1979

At Kendriya Vidyalaya- GCF Jabalpur, the students were taken to the sci-fi movie of its time- STAR TREK. We were packed in to buses and then entered in a three-column to Sheela Talkies premises. The school did take students to a few more movies, but I don’t remember the titles.

 

FIRST BOND: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, 1980

The Spy who loved me was my first ever James Bond movie. It hit Indian screens in the second half of 1980. I was unprepared for the start. In the beginning, Roger More jumps off the snow cliff and keeps falling for two minutes. I, the smalltown Jabalpur teenager, gaped at the screen, wondering if the hero who had jumped with no apparent precaution and support would die. I was getting ready for a flashback story when suddenly the parachute opened, and I relaxed.

 

BROOKE SHIELDS ATTRACTION: BLUE LAGOON, 1981

Who can forget Brooke Shields, the heartthrob of many? Blue Lagoon, when first released, was rated ‘A’. I had just entered college, and as per the ID card, still a few months from qualifying to watch it. One knew it was a bit easier to watch it at the Empire Talkies, not particular about who was buying a ticket or watching the movie. For Brooke Shields, we watched the movie more than a few times, and that too when we could hardly understand the dialogues, which were in English.

 

THE RISKY MOVIE: TEXAS DETOUR 1981

One bunked college to see it in the afternoon show, which was a safer show with fewer chances of meeting someone. It was rated ‘A’ and had a few shots that were the talk of the young crowd. It was an easy-to-follow movie; anyway, language was not a barrier, as sex needed no language. And trust me, there was equal fun in watching a movie that you were not supposed to watch and planning in such a way that you were not caught watching the movie.

 

LOVE IN AIR: LOVE STORY & EK DUJE KE LIYE, 1981

The two movies were released within six months of each other. After watching ‘Love Story, I became a big fan of Vijyeta Pandit. Her poster and pictures were on the walls, and I must have seen the movie Love Story eight-nine times. Looking back, it does seem silly.

Ek Duje ki leye’ meanwhile became the trivia question at the ragging in engineering college. The question was simple, who plays the role of Madhavi’s brother. And the person who knew the answer had no option but to slap his batchmates hard, or the senior would hit him, demonstrating how hard slaps are delivered.

 

COMEDY CROSSFIRE: BLAME IT ON RIO, 1984

I saw this movie twice. Once in 1984, when it was released in India and after many years on a VHS. From the first time, I had a sketchy memory of the story. I was in the theatre not to see the movie but to have a private time with someone in my life. We were in the couple’s balcony at Empire Talkies, the opera-styled twin-seat balconies with independent access. There was no better private space for young adults in Jabalpur.

This was also the day my elder brother decided to bunk college and watch the movie. In that single screen theatre with a semi-circular structure with posters of coming shows, my brother and I came face to face. He caught me. But after the movie, I reached home earlier than him and told my mother that bhai bunked college to see a movie. There was no reference to me being at the movie. So, when he came home, he was scolded for bunking college, and I stood innocently denying I was at the movie. The argument: if I also bunked and watched the movie: would I be telling- won’t I plan with Bhai that no one knew. The argument held its ground, and I was saved while bhai got a earful.

 

THE LAST MOVIE WITH FATHER: LAMHE, 1992

I do not remember seeing many movies theatre with my father other than a few like Jai Santoshi Maa and Har Har Mahadev. So, Lamhe we saw in 1991 in Odeon in Connaught Place, Delhi, was a new experience. My wife, my father and I watched this uncomfortable storyline that I believe was much before its time. Today, it would have been a blockbuster, and it was the 10th biggest success of 1991 and did decent business abroad.

 

THE HAIRLINE FRACTURE: KAMOSHI, 1996

My wife, my four-year-old son and I went for the late-night show at PVR, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. We reached a bit late when the hall was already darkened. While searching for the seat, my wife twisted her ankle. I spent most of the time outside pacifying my son who had decided to cry. The next day as her ankle was swollen, we met the doctor to realise there was a hairline fracture.

 

NET-NET

I have seen many movies at the theatre. Some months as a family we saw four-five movies, but they were just movies, pure entertainment- if I can use that term. As luck would have, nothing happened outside the movie that would make it a milestone, an episode remembered for something more than the movie.

How many of your movie outings have side memories to make them milestones and a memory which is more than the film.

 

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