Movies, Mania & Maturity

Well, as they say, movie is a religion in India (by the way, who the hell are "they"? ;)) I think its very hard to find a person who is completely uninterested or ignorant about movies. I was just thinking about how my movie journey has been. As a kid, it was just the occasional movie we were taken to during some sundays. I dont remember feeling any movie as "bad" at that time. Typically a movie would have a hero and a heroine. All we needed was a "hero" who could fight. And we used to come back home and replay that fight with my granny's soft pillow, visualizing a villain in that. Then came television, and the sunday movie got added to our basket.

During our pre-teens, our movie watching was pretty much restricted to Sterling and Skyline. These theatres used to screen only English movies then. Apart from an occasional Ten Commandments or a Mackenna's Gold, our syllabus consisted mainly of action movies. Our movie world was full of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris etc etc. School time discussions were mainly about Arnold's biceps and how he uses the sword in Conan the Barbarian!

I feel we had had enough of "action" in the pre-teen period. Teens were dedicated to Bollywood masalas. Our school/college was at a strategically good position, where there were more than 10 cinema halls within 2 km radius. What was it that gave us more pleasure - bunking the classes to prove that we were longer kids, standing in the queues for hours discussing filmi trivia or just the thrill and achievement of first day first show. I dont know. During my PU days, I was a regular reader of 6 film magazines every month and thats where I learnt words like "gotcha", "wanna", "gonna". It finally took the most crappy movie of that year called "Raja Hindustani" to enlighten us that movies can be really "bad". I guess probably that was the time when I started viewing the movies critically. The first day first show - standing in the queue craze was gone, as I had started judging the movies.

Surprisingly, the movie viewing intensity had reduced during my BE days. There were the occasional visits to the cinema halls, but we used to be very discreet in our selection of movies. Then, there were VCDs of course. It was the time I started watching some very good international movies (though in very small numbers) like Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful and Good, Bad & Ugly to name a few.

After coming to Bangalore, movie watching became a routine weekly activity. Any movie released that week, lets go. Just for timepass. Its so boring otherwise. Oh yes, that was the logic. I had even seen a lousy movie called 'Muskaan' (yes, I am still ashamed of it!) It was after 'Muskaan' I guess, I decided that I would rather devote time to do other things than just watch movies for timepass. I was growing!

And then the trip to US changed my whole outlook towards movies. Lot of time at hand, heavy snowing outside - I had to take refuge in movies. I watched the movies of Scorsese, Hitchcock, Tarantino, Copolla, Woody Allen, Kurasawa, Bergman etc. etc. Noir movies, existential movies, surrealist movies - french, italian, spanish, japanese I had ventured into almost all categories. People who have interacted with me in the last two years would have realized how obsessed I have become with movies and how I cannot continue a conversation without bringing reference of a movie (my room mate recalls now that for almost a month, I used to say "Whhoo-aah, liar liar your pant is on fire" like Al Pacino, while brushing my teeth) To me, movie is no longer a timepass. Its an art, its an expression and its an adorable obsession! A movie should touch me, challenge me, haunt me, teach me something new or it should at least make me think. Yes, I now watch movies only for that cinematic experience!

Why I wrote this painfully long writeup? (And I am not done yet!) As I look at myself, I realize that I have grown from a kid who used to fight with pillows to an objective greedy cinegoer whose expectations have soared. I sometimes expect the whole world to be mature. And I am thoroughly disappointed. Why? I was reading some blog, where that author had criticized the movie "Sivaji". And he was getting lot of hate comments and his orkut account was also attacked. Now, you can like someone very intensely, but what prevents you from listening to an alternate opinion (you just need to listen, you need not agree) Now, if someone comes and tells me that Al Pacino was a bad selection for Godfather or Annie Hall was the worst comedy movie of all times, I may argue with him, but I would definitely allow him to express his opinion (though I would rate him as a cinematically dumb person in my mind!) Now, why do these "fans" behave that way? Why do they think that their "idol" is God and beyond criticism? Why do they want some "idol" in the first place, whom they want to emulate? And why is this idol worshipping a very south Indian phenomenon? As these questions start popping up in my mind, I remember this quote from Voltaire - "I strongly disagree with what you say, but I'll die to defend your right to say so". Why cant we be like that?

8 Comments:

  1. Krupa said...
    Anytime I see a long post in your blog..it makes me smile.for you to write something so lengthy...you must have had an awful lot to say.When I read your blog..I'm almost convinced about what Vedu said about you and me!;)

    I was watching fountainhead..the movie is good..and not as lengthy as the book!The movie talks about the rights of an individual!

    Some guy sneeringly asked me to write a post on Sivaji!
    I am all for passion and deep deep love...but come on...there must be some moderation.I think (passion+stupidity) will cause more danger to this world than any nuclear weapon can!

    About your movie love..I think the hardest thing is to see you say all your lines like deniro or Boggie!

    and come to think of it...from being a cousin you moved on to become my friend...with movies like Baazigar,Darr....and long discussions about how screwed Bergman is!
    My comment is now as lengthy..as ur post..so adios amigo!
    Viji said...
    guru, i think this is ur first 'long' writeup.Are u getting into 'The Hindu' mould.U always had a great strike rate!. As I was reading thru ur post, voltaire's quoute flashed in my mind and wanted to comment and lo u ad that as ur last sentence :)!
    Venu said...
    Looks like you have taken some time off from your movie watching to write this lengthy post :)

    Meanwhile totally liked voltaire quote :)
    mouna said...
    nice post!

    i too like classics. amongst the ones that u've mentioned i like 'schindler's list' the most.
    perhaps, as the others' appear pretty slow...

    and yes, idol worship does not take us anywhere, it simply makes us qualified 'dumb' if not dumber!! and 'raja hindustani', that was obnoxious!!

    one thing i do like abt indian cinema is the variety it has to offer(mind u, i'm not talking abt KJ types)... probably becoz' we, ourselves lead different lifestyles.

    btw:thanks for visiting my blog, do come again :)
    Bit Hawk said...
    @krupa
    Your first line reminded me of Morgan Freeman's line from 'Shawshank Redemption' (See, I relate everything to movies!) Yes, I still remember watching Baazigar with you. We have come a long way. May the moviemania prevail!

    @viji
    You have read the Voltaire quote means you have actually reached the end of the 'long' post. Keep reading and keep commenting!

    @venu
    I have slightly reduced my movie watching. I dont know, may be its the lull before the storm!

    @mouna
    I honestly think that we have not made a great variety of movies, compared to the huge variety of lifestyles and people that our country has. Anyways, your blog has been bookmarked!
    Rajiv Iyer said...
    hey great blog u have got here .... just stumbled across it .... nyways, I can connect totally with what u r saying as I am myself a movie-buff of the variety that watches a movie for more intellectual reasons than just the mundane purpose of leisure/entertainment .... I have just recently started watching the kind of stuff you wrote about & so I am in the incipient stages

    also, fantastic quotation from Voltaire - I agree that we have gotto be more accomodative of one another & there's gotto be a sense of tolerance .... unfortunately, the way Indian societal structures are, we tend to be closeted in our outlook in life & perhaps due to this close-minded cultivation, we have developed into a group of passionate, intolerant fanatics.

    Anyways, great post - keep me engaged and occupied - currently going thru ur other posts
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    parijata said...
    Nice, nostalgic post.
    I love movies, but I simply cannot take most Indian movies made these days. Even the so called artsy movies are not-so-well-made.

    Agree with you 100% on how hero worship is a South Indian phenomenon. I am reminded of an exchange student from another country. While the riots during Raj Kumar's death (or was it the kidnapping?) were going on, she wrote "I cannot imagine Americans acting like this if something happened to Brad Pitt". How true! To think that temples are dedicated to actors! Well, the lesser said about this, the better.

    Thanks for the great quote by Voltaire.

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