May 10, 2013

#4: Changing Times

"Choose carefully. Memories are all we end up with. At least pick the nice ones." - Juan Jose Campanella's 'The Secret in their Eyes' (2009) 

It must be some time in 1990. My Mom and my Bua were contemplating on recommending a movie to my Baba and Dadima. “This is a film they should not miss. It is more decent than they can imagine” – my Mom suggested and my Bua nodded. “Except, for the opening title sequence”, Mom thought out loud. “If it were not for that song, we could have definitely recommended it to them.” But my 20-year old Bua thought otherwise. “What’s wrong with that song? It’s the dance of Shiva and Parvati. I’m sure they won’t mind that!” And the two ladies burst out laughing.

My grandparents did not go to watch ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’, the beautiful ‘family film’ that opened with a song where the shadows of two lovers, dressed in tights, danced with passion. The popular Hindi cinema of the early 90s was too embarrassing for such a suggestion to be made to them. Those were the times when ‘Sexy sexy sexy mujhe log bole’ played at Saraswati Puja near our house. Once on our trip to the holy town of Deoghar, the bus constantly played the song “Sarkaaye lo khatiya jaada lage, jaade mein balma pyaara lage…” On our way back perhaps I was missing that song that I started singing it. My mother snapped at me – “Don’t sing that song. It’s dirty.” I must have been nine then, too young to understand why that song was dirty. But yes, I did not sing that song before her ever in my life again.

After Bua got married, in 1993, our little domestic movie club was broken. My Mom still managed to watch some movies, very few indeed, when we were at school, with some neighbor or guest visiting our home. I remember how impressed she was with ‘1942: A Love Story’, especially how ‘clean’ it was. And I remember she narrated to us how Rahul Roy turned into a lion in ‘Junoon’. I haven’t watched that film yet, but it seems I have actually seen that scene of the ‘werewolf inspired’ transformation, so vivid was Mom’s description of it. She always had some insight into films that I could never think of. After watching ‘Saajan’, she remarked how by making Sanjay Dutt slightly bent over his walking stick, his tall frame did not appear too awkward with Madhuri and Salman by his side. While watching the opening credits of the movies on TV, I used to ask her what a ‘Nirmaata’ (Producer) or a ‘Nirdeshak’ (director) was. And when my teachers prepared us for an upcoming cultural program at school, I used to tell my friends which teacher was the ‘Nirmaata’ of this show and who the ‘Nirdeshak’ was. A couple of teachers once over-heard this conversation of mine. They were amused and smiled lovingly at me, their favorite student among all, one who barely spoke.

Dad, unlike what the first post of this series suggested, never regained his interest in the movies. In fact, he was not interested in anything except his work. But yes, when ‘Saudaagar’ released, even my Dad could not resist the temptation of watching Dilip Kumar and Raj Kumar back on the big screen. One evening, after making the two of us sleep, Mom and Dad went for the 9 pm show at Konark Talkies. As far as I remember, that was the only movie my Mom and Dad, just the two of them, watched together.

Amidst all this, something else was to change. Once on his trip to Deoghar, Dad found about this school-ashram that was known for its spiritual ambience, disciplined lifestyle, and wholesome education. He wanted me to prepare for its tough entrance exam. I attempted twice, after failing to get through the first time. Having trained under my Mom, that included 5 am study hours, getting admitted to Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith was the first goal I consciously strove for. It was dreamt by my Dad, and my Mom and I fulfilled it. My admission into that prestigious institution was a matter of pride for my entire extended family. “Your son will now be an IAS officer” remarked my Dad’s friends. All knew this was a significant achievement in my life as a student. And perhaps no one knew, least of all I, that this was the first Plot Point in my life as a whole – an irreversible change, that was to transform a shy, introverted child into the boy I was to become. End of March, 1995, I left my home, never to return back, except for the small vacations. What happened after that and how it affected my life as a film-buff will form a major chunk of the posts to follow. But let me end this post with something totally unexpected that happened just a couple of days before I left home. My Dad took us for a movie! It was 22nd of March, my birthday, and Dad took all three of us – Mom, my brother, and me, to watch ‘Karan Arjun’ (1995). It was a rare birthday gift, when all four of us watched a movie together for the first time. That it happened two days before I left my home is perhaps one hint at the emotional side of the stern persona my Dad sported.


  1. This section is turning out to be my favorite one on this blog. Already excited for the next post of this section :D

  2. Thanks Harshit for your comment. When I started this blog more than four years ago, I had decided on not writing very personal posts. But eventually I realised those reading this blog don't mind that at all. Hence finally I decided on this series. There are at least 20-25 more chapters to come, if not more! :)

  3. "the first Plot Point in my life as a whole" ... truly .. for most of us, I guess ..

  4. Yes, Priyadarshi! What a twist it was - to join Vidyapith! Life wouldn't have been the same if we didn't spend those years there! :)