Movies, masti….popcorn!

By | March 26, 2011

‘Shall we go for a movie?’ asked my would-be L&M on the second occasion we went out after our engagement.

I nodded assent. He bought some chana and we munched as we watched the movie – an action movie, but I didn’t mind it. Then during our honeymoon, when I caught him looking up the movie listings in the paper, I was dismayed. Here I was waiting to explore the Garden City and beyond and here was my L&M ready to take refuge in a movie theatre!

Soon however, I realized that I had married a movie junkie. I liked movies, but to go for one every week and sometimes twice in a week, was a little too much, wouldn’t you agree? I tried to dissuade him on several occasions but it was a futile effort. He would behave like an addict who had been denied a shot – edgy, snarling and generally insufferable. And soon I gave up and slowly got hooked myself. Isn’t it always best to join ‘em, when you can’t beat ‘em?

In Tamil we have a saying that goes, ‘When you marry a ghost, you have to be prepared to haunt the tamarind tree,’ (ghosts are supposed to haunt the said trees). So I valiantly prepared to follow him to the movie halls — for better or worse.

One day he told me about his first movie ‘adventure.’ It was sometime during his early teens and he had gone to see Christopher Lee’s Dracula. To prove that he was not scared of any old vampire, he not only went alone but also to the late night show. While coming back home he had to pass a lonely stretch and the brave heart began pedaling hard to cross the stretch as quickly as possible. As he pedaled furiously he heard another cyclist behind him. All the scary scenes of the movie flitted before his eyes and he began pedaling hard, panting even harder. The cyclist behind him increased his pace and our hero heard him panting too.

Afraid to look back, his heart in his mouth he thought he would stop and let the other guy overtake him. But that fellow stopped too! And so began a race against all the imaginary vampires chasing him. On the verge of collapse he finally stopped at a well- lit square where some rikshaw-wallahs were preparing to sleep. Relieved to be among other humans, he picked up courage to look back. He saw the other cyclist. It was another boy like him — face white as sheet — who had been following my future L&M for company!

I am certain that that night the vampire had sunk its fangs into his tender neck, for till date he doesn’t miss a vampire movie, leave alone the Dracula!

Alas, I didn’t know of all this when I married him. And so come weekends we would prowl the cinema halls of Mumbai. Back in the 70s English movies were scarce but we saw every Hollywood movie that was released and when there were no new releases we saw them again and yet again. We saw the Laurence Olivier- Michael Caine movie Sleuth thrice! I must admit that it was worth the watch  it every time. We saw Hindi movies too – the blockbusters. He was partial to them as against ‘art movies’.

As for me, I had some wonderful movie experiences.

Watching the first show on the first day was a game for us. Living close to the erstwhile Strand cinema in Colaba, we managed to do that whenever a new film was released there. The ‘jugadu’ that he was, L&M had befriended the doorman who booked the best seats for us for a fee. But he couldn’t replicate the same thing elsewhere. So we ended up seeing ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ first-day-first-show sitting in the first row because the rest were all sold out! The crick in the neck I got looking up at Jack Nicholson and Will Sampson, the ‘Chief,’ was worth every frame, every dialogue of that great movie.

First-day-first-show-first-row!!

The other day when I saw Magiceye’s capture of the New Excelsior in Mumbai, I went back in time to the days when it was all spanking new with its wide angle screen — the first of its kind in India.

I was not too keen to see Mary Queen of Scots but the L&M cajoled me into going. You see, in addition to lapping up vampire movies, the L&M was/is a historical movie buff too.  But what a great experience it was watching that period movie on the huge screen! We saw The Last Emperor, Quo Vadis and Ben-hur – all in the same theatre later. I think he missed his vocation when he did Engineering. He would have made a swell historian.

I got used to the historical movies, action flicks and even some horror stuff, but I drew the line at James Bond movies. I mean, I could sit through a Race with the Devil or even a Streetfighter, but I didn’t want to go to one of the 007 capers. The L&M was a diehard fan of the genre and kept trying all ruses to get me to see one without any luck.

One Saturday morning he told me before leaving for work that we had to attend a wedding reception of his friend and to be ready by 5 PM. And so, I wore a party sari and got all dolled up. I don’t like any jewellery and so didn’t wear any other than my mangalsutra and a couple of bangles. Looking at this plain daughter-in-law going to attend a wedding without any extra gold on her, my shocked mother-in-law made me wear a necklace and heavy earrings.

‘Which friend is this?’ she asked me. It was then that I realized that the L&M had not told me his name. Was he a colleague? Maybe… So I told her that he was a colleague.

The L&M arrived promptly at 5 PM and changed. I asked him about this friend and he gave some vague reply and promptly changed the topic.

We got into the taxi and he told the driver the destination in a voice I couldn’t hear properly. Soon it stopped at Regal theatre, which usually screened James Bond movies.

He got down and paid the cabbie.

‘But this is a theatre!’ I sputtered. I had seen the poster by then: ‘Man with the golden gun,’ it said.

‘But you said we were going to a wedding!

‘Yes, this is too. Roger Moore’s wedding.’ He grinned in most boyishly, disarmingly  and above all, very nervously!! I was not in the mood to forgive him – no, not for deceiving me into watching a Bond movie, but for not telling me earlier. At least I would not have dressed up like a lit-up Christmas tree. And the necklace! Ugh.. I took it off once we went inside.

And suddenly he vanished to return a few minutes later with some popcorn. I think that was when the popcorn made it appearance on our movie dates.

What started off as an appeasement snack soon began devouring us. Like drug addicts, we would make a beeline to the snacks counter and stock up on the stuff. Sometimes it would be finished within a few minutes into the movie. Undaunted, he would march out again to get more.

By the time we moved to Delhi and discovered Priya and PVR, years later, it had become one of the main reasons for going to a movie. The brats took after their parents and gobbled up even more popcorn. Suffice to say that the bill for popcorn would be more than the cost of the tickets. I could swear that the boys and girls behind the counters rubbed their hands in glee when they spotted us. If you think that is stupid of us and that we could have got the best popcorn sitting at home, you need to be pitied. They are mutually compatible – popcorn by itself is just something to much on, but combined with a movie, it is an EXPERIENCE!  Try it before knocking it.

These days the L&M and I go to the morning shows to avoid the crowds. What’s more, snacks are discounted for these shows. Amongst all the coochie-cooing youngsters, we are often the oldest, not to speak of the largest consumers of popcorn.

The vampire-bitten L&M still loves his movies, but I am not so enthusiastic these days. So he lures me with promises of extra-large tubs of popcorn. Only, since I eat very slowly, he finishes his own and then mine too. He promptly brings a couple of more tubs – with the same result. But I have made my mind up. No more sharing if he wants me to come along.

This decision comes with a catch. He can watch a movie by himself if it comes to choosing between me and the movie. So ultimately I would be the loser – I won’t even get the one tub of popcorn I do now, if I don’t go along. What do you think I should do?

(Image at the top courtesy: Cartoonstock.com)

 

35 thoughts on “Movies, masti….popcorn!

  1. Snow Leopard

    Interesting. Your movie adventures have stretched through many decades.
    My father usually sleeps through a movie and that made mom swear that she will never watch a movie with him. So in all we have seen 5 movies together, in a theater, in the last 20 years. :P

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      That is really a study in contrasts, isn’t it? Like I said, the L&M must have been bitten by the vampire on that fateful night….

      Reply
  2. Elder Brat

    There was this one time when we had gone to see Mr. India … First day matinee show. Stood in the queue for a long time and rejoiced when we got the tickets only to discover they were for the late night show. Not an option of course because I was like 5 or 6 years old then. He them decided to sell it off. The second he said out loud that he had tickets to sell, he disappeared from view engulfed by about 10-15 people. Almost an instant later, the crowd fell away. The tickets were gone and L&M stood alone counting the cash.

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      I think the adventures with you guys needs a separate post by itself. Why not do a guest post for me, eh? I remember the time we had taken you to see Superman, with the L&M hoping that you would follow in his footsteps, only to have you bawl your head off the moment the movie started with a loud bang. So we took turns to keep you outside till the movie was over. needless to say that I did the major baby-sitting since he didn’t want to miss the movie! You wouldn’t remember of course since you were too small then.

      Reply
  3. Blue Lotus

    We go for movies and “he” snores through it and wakes up at around the end asking me about the story line.Initially an upset me used to wake him up.Now I let him sleep.After all sleeping people don’t eat popcorns :D.

    Reply
  4. Bhagyashree

    My husband watches movies only to criticise it and I am always amazed at the way he tears it to bits. But haven’t been to a theatre for a long time now and miss those days.

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      If he tears it to bits, he is watching it even more carefully than you :) We had gone through periods of no movies too when we lived in far of suburbs where there were no good theatres. Going to town on the only weekly holiday was not an option. But we made up when we began living near them later on.

      Reply
  5. magiceye

    lovely walk down memory lane and back!
    thank you for the plug ;)
    you must go for the movie, have your popcorn and snooze! that is what i do :)

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      Hey Magiceye, you don’ need any plugging, your blog ‘rocks’ as the youngsters would say. But it brings back so many nostalgic moments for me :) I don’t snooze through a movie — I like to get my ‘paisa vasool’, but yes, sometimes we have left the theatre when it was too boring or stupid.

      Reply
  6. S.R.Ayyangar

    I think, I have seen maximum number of Hindi & English movies with my father during 60s & 70s who was a movie buff. Everybody in our family used to wait eagerly for every Sunday when he used to call me to know movies running in the town and Lo, we would be in some or the other film house! The fun of beedi smell filled single screen talkies with audience whistling and scrambling for tickets are no match to present day ‘just walk in’ multiplexes!

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      Those days, films were still a way for the family to have fun together, without spending too much money as they do today. You are right about the experience, though the whistling of the unruly audience used to be disruptive more often than not. Have you seen the audience throw coins at the screen when an iconic idol like NTR or Rajkumar came on the screen? :D

      Reply
  7. prasanna raghavan

    Zephyr,

    In the conservative Kerala where I was borne and brought up there was no regular film viewing except for some yearly occasions like onam or vishu. Then I hoped that I would get a better chance once I get married.

    But once I got married, I was to join my husband, in Tnzania, Africa, where he was working at that time. There was a small Indian community whose only pass time was watching films on weekends. They were either the chinese or the Hindi. Though I had learned Hindi as a learning subject, I did not understand the hindi in the film. Then the chinese one with fighting.

    Now it is amazing how much of the film watching has been improved by the advent of the modern technologies.

    nice to read you after a long time.

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      Hey Prasanna, nice to see you back here after a long time. It must have been tough to see movies in languages that one doesn’t understand. Though we have DVDs and home theatre and all, the enjoyment of the movie in a theatre can’t be replicated at home as commented by S.R.ayyangar. But to each his own. :)

      Reply
  8. Ltlstar

    This post is hilarious Mami. I was telling HRH recently about one of my outings with L&M to a Delhi theatre for a matinee show where he ate his tub, my tub and L&M’s sister’s tub of popcorn and the next day when we were all driving to see you and Brat in Chandigargh, L&M had a minor rear-end problem. We stopped at almost all the Dhabas on the way for a break where L&M lured me with tandoori chicken. Love L&M.

    Reply
  9. Purba

    My L&M has a fixed quota – not more than 6 flicks a year. And I keep looking for unsuspecting bakras to drag along with me. And I don’t exactly fancy popcorn.

    Your post had a whiff off romance, I almost sighed imagining the much in love couple, sitting wide eyed and watching all the epics unfold on the screen.

    But my favourite part was L&M cycling furiously on that lonely stretch of road :D

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      Know what? I love reading your comments on my posts because you always manage to read underneath the words and fathom what I am actually trying to say. :)

      The L&M pointed out helpfully that I had missed out mentioning that he had been down with fever for two after his ‘vampire’ adventure. :D

      Reply
  10. Nandhini

    Wow! After reading this post I feel getting older and age is all a myth. Njoyed every bit of the post, especially the vampire-bit L&M bribing you with pop-corns :)

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      Getting old is actually a physiological thing and has nothing to do with the mind. If one wants to enjoy life, one can always find ways to do it even when one grows older. And as for bribing, he does that later — first it is turning the charm on full-blast :D

      Reply
  11. Delhizen

    L & M must say is an adventure seeker cum film buff! I loved his idea of taking you for the film on pretext of a wedding… Bonding over films and popcorns, can anything get better than this?

    I have an aunt who is absolutely crazy about watching films… and sometimes I have been bullied into watching some really horrible ones with her…

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      You got it Delhizen! Your aunt reminds me of an older cousin of mine who used to come to India on holidays. I was in college then and she would make me see all the crap movies running in town, because she would not be able to see any movie once she went back. In the early 70s, VCRs and other devices were not easily available and so the torture for me. She used to bribe me with milk shake — divine ones at Sher-e-Punjab in Nagpur. :D

      Reply
  12. Arti

    The popcorns do complete the picture, I agree:-D I think you should keep sharing, just start practising to eat a little faster;-) That will settle the scores!

    Reply
  13. manju

    Lol! Enjoyed this post! Definitely you should continue to go to the movies with your L & M- at least for the popcorn. :D

    We now live in a suburb of Mumbai, but earlier we lived in the City. I have often seen movies at the theatres you have mentioned.

    Only difference was that my husband not being fond of movies, I ended up seeing children’s movies with my kids! Often first day, first show!

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      Going for movies in Mumbai used to be a time-consuming thing, but today with multiplexes everywhere it has become simpler. We have stopped being such maniacal movie fiends but we still love the odd good movie and of course the popcorn :D

      Reply
  14. Mayank

    I am no movie buff and growing up in small towns also meant that there was no chance to go and see movies in theater. Me and wife have quiet diverse choice and as I say for her movies all movies are good, some better and few excellent. We have now reconciled that she needs to visit the theatre more often with friends, i enjoy my day alone with a drink and Nat Geo or Discovery. But having given him company for so many years – my advise is keep it on! even if its for that tub of popcorn. ;)

    Reply
    1. Zephyr Post author

      Both the L&M and i are from small towns and still managed to go to movies. It is mostly the penchant for it that makes you an avid movie goer. As you say, you are not too keen on it. To each his own. Your wife is better off going with her friends because to go with a disinterested companion can kill the joy of watching a film. And yes, we still go to see movies, often the oldest couple and eating the most popcorn :)

      Reply
  15. sharbori

    this is such a endearing movie and you told it well! you already know what you have to do, isn’t it, remember “popcorn and movie together – an experience” truly!

    some more stories from you please.

    Reply
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