July 09, 2013

#6: Partners in Crime

"Only one is a wanderer. Two together are always going somewhere." - Alfred Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' (1958)

Early hours of 28th September. 1995. About 2am. It is raining heavily. Dad and I have just reached home after an exhausting train journey from my boarding school. The Durga Puja vacations have begun. It is going to be the shortest vacation of my hostel life - only eight days. And I am really upset that the rains delayed the trains and spoiled almost half a day of my vacation. Soaked wet, we enter the compound of our house. Mom and my brother, Devanshu, come rushing to the collapsable grill. It is dark. Power failure. Mom is struggling to find the keys, more so with the excitement of having her son back, than due to darkness. Devanshu and I are standing on either sides of the locked grill, unable to look at each others' faces but glad to be together. The first thing he says to me is: "You missed something that came on TV tonight. It was called "the Making" of a film. They showed how the film was made and all that, and it was amazing. The film will be released in Diwali. It is called 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge'."

This conversation, even before Dad and I had entered the house, is the first memory I have of Devanshu and me having a personal, passionate discussion on the movies. We were eleven and ten respectively. This memory is so vivid, I feel I am still there, soaked, unable to see anything, waiting to enter the house and touch the feet of my Mom, but already curious about what "the Making" of a movie could be like.

For the next seven years, this was to be our ritual. Whether during Devanshu's visit to my hostel to meet me, or during my vacations, it did not take more than five minutes for us to start discussing cinema. And then we went on and on for hours. Mom participated excitedly, often giving us perspectives that her two kids did not have, while Dad was left ignored, and he retaliated with unkind remarks. The moment power supply was restored, Devanshu and I used to rush to the hall, to watch the latest trailers of the upcoming films. And he made me hear movie songs from the cassettes he had bought. This was all too overwhelming for me, especially during the first day of my vacations. He also taught me the lyrics of the latest hits - he had always been sharper than me when it came to learning the songs, and he could sing really well. But he was always less inhibited about his excitement and that often led us to embarrassing and difficult situations. I remember how he had exulted with joy when a particular song had topped the weekly top-ten on Doordarshan, a show called "Ek se badh kar ek", as Baba, our grandpa, was having dinner in the same room. Devanshu exclaimed as the song grabbed the top position and started singing along, as I stole a glance at Baba's disapproving face. The song was "Ek ho gaye hum aur tum, toh ud gayi neendein re" from Bombay (1996). Needless to say, I shivered with fear as the video of the song played on TV, in which the lead couple made love, with Baba sitting with us, and my brother, as if unaware of his presence, singing along.

Perhaps staying away did this wonderful thing to us. We longed for each others' company. And we longed to discuss cinema. My years away from him and this distance, I am sure, had to play a very major role in turning us into serious cinephiles very early in our lives. Leaving home as the vacations ended was sad not just because I was going to be away from my family, but also because my connection with the movies and the songs would be interrupted for the next few months. I remember, during the final day of all my vacations, I spent my entire day before the TV, trying to soak in all that I could, and the only relief would be the fact that on reaching hostel, I would be able to discuss with my friends all that we caught during the vacations. That mad passion for cinema would one day become our life, and we would continue to stay partners in crime, eventually working together and sharing credit - "Satyanshu and Devanshu Singh" - was of course a thought that never came to our heads back then. We were yet to be infected by the 'film-making' virus, and were happily, innocently, and harmlessly enjoying our love for cinema, together.

During my winter vacation in 1995, I finally got to see DDLJ on video. All had already seen it before me. I remember how amazed I was when the line "Bade bade deshon mien" was repeated in the end. Was that my first taste of an unforgettable pay-off? Perhaps it was. Later, perhaps in the summer vacation of 1996, Mom, Devanshu and I watched, for the first time, the Filmfare Awards on TV. I am sure it was a repeat telecast. But that added another chapter into my cinema consciousness, as since then I obsessively followed the Awards, year by year, to eventually compile a list of all winners in Filmfare history, and almost learning that by heart. As far as that 'first' Award show is concerned, I distinctly remember two things - that I believed 'Ho gaya hai tujhko toh pyaar sajna' had better lyrics than the winner 'Tujhe dekha toh ye jaana sanam', and that all three of us wondered what Choreography meant!!!


  1. By far your funniest blog..I could imagine DDLJ in flashes with the two cute brothers discussing cinema animatedly...loved it :)

  2. Thanks Anonymous for the lovely comment. I am not sure how cute we were. But yes we did discuss cinema animatedly. :)

  3. In the environment I am currently residing in, starved of any cinema, where I leave for coaching early in morning by 6 and come home late by afternoon, even though the class is only of 2 hours - me catching the morning show of any movie at 10 at a PVR nearby classes and saying I stayed back in classroom for studying - you make me fall in love with cinema again and again...

  4. This was very smile-inducing. Gave me goosebumps in some parts for some reason. Amazing. :)

  5. Such a cute memory satyanshu bhaiya and never knew devanshu was so excited about movies in school days :)

  6. @Priyadarshi, @Adhiraj, @Urmika: Many thanks for your reaction to the post. These memories are more special than my words could express! :)