Before I fell in love with Coffee, Cricket, Music or my Wife, I fell in love with Cinema. This I can say with conviction though it is based on hearsay. I have been informed through reliable sources i.e., my mother that my tryst with the world of motion pictures started well before I had control over either my motion or my motions. The story of my first visit to the dank and darkened Cinema is oft repeated and oft quoted episode in the family circles and will find prominent place in my autobiography as and when it is written. To give you a peep into the same, I am supposed to have let everyone in the cinema know how much I appreciate this medium. So much enthusiasm that a feeding bottle thrust into my mouth could not keep me quiet. I am also informed that my debut movie was called ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ and my father was banished from the hall due to my enthusiasm and managed to only see the tail and the trunk of the lead artist of the film, an elephant aka Ramu because that is all he could see from the keyhole outside the hall screening the film.
Ever since then, the world of make believe has had an impact on me like no other, including education. My real and reel life were so intermingled that I wore Rajesh Khanna’s Guru shirts, sported Amitabh Bachchan’s kaan chanpa hair cut, Kamal Hassan’s moustache, Govinda’s green-shirt-yellow-trousers ensemble, even a hint of Ramarajan’s lipstick. The only thing I could not master was that flip-to-the-lip-cigarette a la Super Star Rajnikanth. I fell in love like Rishi Kapoor, nursed my broken heart like Dilip Kumar, smiled divinely like Uttam Kumar, cried like Sivaji Ganesan, danced like Jumping Jack Jeetendra , laughed like Gabbar Singh and fought like…………...no, no, NO fighting. Not with the two-packs structure I possessed like Dhanush! I even refuse going to temples because Bhagwan Krishna doesn't have even a fleeting resemblance to N T Rama Rao.
I have often been badgered on my down market tastes by either the hoi polloi, Starbucks swigging South ‘Bohmbaye’ types who swear by Hollywood or the bearded Jholawalas who over gallons of watery liquids in Indian coffee Houses interrupted by measured drags of Charminar or Beedi at the rate of one puff every 38 seconds dissected that ‘the past, the present, the future’ scene in a Mrinal Sen’s Black & White “A” film. A for Awards film I mean branded 'New Wave Cinema' by mainstream media. I am not the kind who would like to be seen within a mile’s distance of ‘A’ films. Sorry to disappoint you Ritwik Ghataks, Satyajit Rays, Shyam Benegals, Adoor Gopalakrishnans, G.Aravindans etc. I refuse to sit in a cinema to watch your classics which require me to read film reviews to understand how noble your motives were, how eloquent your frames were and how you have pushed the envelope of world Cinema. I am not a banner boy of Hollywood either. I refuse to see those Hollywood comedies as my handicap of not being an EMT (English Medium Types you dummkopf) does not permit me to understand those heavily accented dialogues. I refuse to see the Hollywood rom-coms also. How can you have a romantic film without at least one love song every 3 reels. I concede grudgingly that I don’t mind the Jurassic Parks, the Godzillas, the Anacondas, the King Kongs provided the lead characters i.e., the Dinos, Lizards, Snakes, Chimps etc speak in Hindi, Tamil or Telugu. Who cares about minor details like DNAs or radiation etc as long as they gobble up people every few scenes, destroy vehicles, massacre Manhattan and reduce it to a rubble, which I must agree is pretty fun. But only if they are dubbed in……
I am the quintessential MasalaMan as you have rightly guessed. Fan of the largest film Industry in the World, Indian Cinema; Bollywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Sandalwood, Tollywood and Tollywood no bar. No, not an editing error. You read it right. The Telugu and Bengali filmdom sport the same woody nomenclature. Plus some more who have not yet been fortunate enough to have the honour of a wood thrust on them, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Marathi industries comes to mind. The kind of films which are not only loved through the length and breadth of this country and the Diaspora but increasingly native audiences ranging from the Arabs to the residents of the first world countries. The Films which even as we speak, are enhancing India’s Soft Power from the multiplexes in Americas and Europe to the touring talkies of Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea. From lost in a Kumbh mela, separated at birth twins, three brothers paying a tribute to Indian Secularism, love triangles, rich-girl-poor guy love affair or its alternate rich-guy-poor-girl love affair, Manoj Kumar led East or West India is the best or saving the Motherland from umpteen ‘foreign hands’ like Karuppu MGR ‘Captain’ Vijaykanth, I lap up everything. Show me one Hollywood film which has a hero who can jump 4000 feet vertically upwards and kick a villain bang on his head which appears magically on every floor of a building without setting foot on terra firma? Can a Hollywood musical put out miraculously the appearance of 300+ junior artists who can dance with absolute synchronization without as much as breaking a sweat? Can a Hollywood hunk single handedly kill a fully grown crocodile with a single punch? Our original super hero HanuMan can in one stroke reduce all your Super, Bat, Spider Men to a nobody. Daara Singhji da jawaab nahi! The Hulk is nothing more than a Dharam Paaji on steroids. Even your curry westerns are tasteless without our “mehbooba o mehbooba”. While we have not yet graduated to saving the world, Ra.One ki kasam, we are getting there.
So before you say anything derogatory about this dream world of mine……..........Mind It!
PS: MasalaMan2 is at planning stage. Scripting will start if this receives overwhelming response at Box-Office like 50 RTs on Twitter, 25 Likes on Facebook and anything over 0* from @taran_adarsh!