Indian Cinema just completed 100 years and Bombay Talkies was released to celebrate the occasion. I am sure that for so many of us out there, cinema means so many different things like the 4 short stories of Bombay Talkies. Frankly, for most of us cinema means so many different things at different points of time in our lives. When I was watching the film I had short flashbacks of what films have meant for me at various points of my life. There were more flashbacks as I narrated parts of the film to my fiancee over the phone. So I decided to share the joy that films have brought in my life with the world (or actually, the handful of people who read my blog)
My journey with films started in 1987 when for the first time my parents took me to the theater. They had purposely bought tickets to the night show coz it would be easy to manage with a 3 yr old when he is asleep (I obviously don’t remember this but my mom has narrated this story many times). As soon as the screen lit up the 3 yr old boy got up on his seat, eyes wide open in amazement and asked his parents “Itna bada T.V., yeh chalta kahan se hai??” and his parents pointed upwards to the projector room from where a faint glare was coming into the large theater. Sleep was nowhere to be seen in my eyes that night, the only thing present in them was the joy of watching something magical. [Late Edit: Apparently his mom kept trying to force a milk bottle in his mouth and he kept pushing it away with all his might, his eyes glued to the giant screen] Maybe if the film was boring my enthusiasm would have died down but it was anything but boring. How could it be, after all it was Mr. India. To this day it is one of my all-time favorite films and one of the finest films in Indian Cinema.
From that point on I was hooked to the world of cinema and could never get enough of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get too many chances as going to the theater was rare at that time and my dad got posted to Baroda which meant even fewer films. So whenever I traveled back to Delhi to visit my relatives I would try my best to watch as many films as possible. I was particularly interested in going to my grandmother’s house because there was a video library downstairs. It was at my grandmother’s place that my love for cinema reached new heights and I discovered my first idol. 1991 saw me go crazy over two Amitabh Bachchan films, Ajooba (my first superhero film) & Hum (my first Amitabh as ‘angry not so young man’ film). I would watch these films back to back the entire day and fight with anyone who wanted to watch something different. Imitate Amitabh Bachchan, running in slow-motion, shouting, and so on. Eventually my cousins (elder to me by 5-7 yrs) got so bugged that they gave instructions to the video library guy to say no whenever I come to ask for either of these films (scheming bunch of cousins). Amitabh became my idol and after that I saw any movie which he was in. I distinctly remember a 1983 film called Pukar feat. Amitabh which I was watching with my parents on TV. In the climax of the film Amitabh gets shot and probably dies, as soon as I saw him dying on screen tears started rolling down my eyes and started howling (not crying). Bollywood had totally taken over, now it was the turn of Hollywood.
I got my first taste of Hollywood and Steven Spielberg in 1993 with Jurrasic Park. It was an extraordinary film and simply blew me away. I was a 9 yr old boy with a powerful imagination but this film was beyond anything I could ever imagine. It was all I talked about for so many days, at home, with other kids at school, narrating to those who had not seen it in back in Baroda (English films were hard to come by back then, no matter how much my ex-roommate from Ahmadabad disagrees with the fact. For him Gujrat has been as developed as the United States from the beginning of civilization).
Then came the age where I could start understanding love stories somewhat and think of the girl in class I had a crush on. I am sure we all have done that at some point during that age. 1994 was Hum Aapke Hain Kaun which I saw 3-4 months after the release as it was running house-full all the time. One year later in 1995 I saw Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and just like every other guy I wanted to be like Shahrukh Khan. He was my next superstar, one I followed to the extent of buying & wearing the stupid ‘Cool’ neck chain he wore in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I went on to do some more crazy stuff like exploding imaginary bombs after watching Border, wearing powerless glasses after watching Kaho Na Pyaar Hai.
My hysteria went to an all time high with The Matrix in 1999 which influenced me to the extent of getting me interested in computers and technology. My email ids, my computer, my hard drives, everything was derived from the film. I even bought the original soundtrack which made me fall in love with rock music. It is this film that made me call myself a film buff because till date I think I have seen it more than 100 times and there was a point when I could narrate the lines of the entire film. (Have stopped doing that coz people started suggesting that I need professional help)
Last but not the least by any means are Lagaan in 2001 & Haasil in 2003 which are two of my all-time favorite films (Haasil taking the top slot). These were the films that made me appreciate the nuances and subtlety of acting and cinema. I love cricket and I love films, It was only logical that I would go crazy about Lagaan. However, it was not just the cricket that I loved, it was the manner in which it was portrayed. In comparison, Haasil is special for a very different reason, It was the first time that I realized that there can be good films without big stars, there is acting without shouting and a film can also tell realistic stories and still entertain. For me Haasil is one of the finest pieces of acting I had ever seen. Instantly Irfaan Khaan became my favorite Khan and Haasil became my favorite Hindi film. I saw it 12 times in the first 13 days of buying the CD (I know you guys are thinking ‘Professional Help?’)
Well, This love continues with Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Gangs of Wasseypur, Do Dooni Chaar, Udaan, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Peepli Live, Talaash…………and so many more. Each one making a mark in my life, each one with its own signature.