17 February, 2007


Lots of things have been happening around with me personally. Honestly speaking mind was not at ease to blog. Thanks to my fellow bloggers for encouraging me to come back. It was not my intention to be away from blogging. I shall see to that this does not happen frequently. I have been reading everyone’s post but was not able to comment. Since I was taking a break from everything, had a good time watching lots of classic matinees in private television. Do we still have public television is another question. It was memorable to watch wonderful old films. They are a delight to watch with the whole family. While watching few of them I went to those old days.

I started recollecting my memories. As far as I could remember, the first theatre I had watched a movie should be ‘National’ theatre in Tambaram. There was a worker who was dumb and he used to have a round log and use it now and then to bring the crowd under control. He was lovingly called as “Oomai”. He looked as a terror when I was a child. At the same time, I laughed on thinking about this, when I shook hands with him when I was in early 20’s. He was still working in that theatre. I started panicking once when I was struck between crowds in a small lane like ticket counter. I was holding my mother’s hand tight. Probably it was for some picture like “Tirumal Perumai” or some other picture on god’s belief. The first place any boy knows that he has grown is only when he stands in ladies queue and denied entrance. Also, when a boy enters a ladies compartment in the local electric train along with his mother, and the whole crowd keeps grumbling, he realises that he is coming off age. This happened to me too.

More than going to theatres, I have wonderful memories of having seen movies in tents and called as ‘Kottai’. Last week I was seeing some movie, and there was this scene. The whole village crowd runs behind a small vehicle which comes, with new posters that are likely to be shown in their cinema tent. I laughed at it and my children asked the reason. I had to explain the fun we had in running after the man who stuck the posters. It is a great art. After pasting on the wall, he used to apply handful of paste on the poster too. Later I realised that it was for the cattle to taste sour and not eat the poster.

All of us in the street would gather and see the movie in the theatre. I always thought that the actors were behind the screens and they disappear silently after the movie is over. It was a mystery then. The tents were so comfortable. We used to enjoy sitting in the sand and watch movies. When we were young our mothers were on the ladies side. During the intervals they used to pass on the snacks and water for us. We used to carry few small bed sheets to put them on the floor and sit. Many times we used to dig the sand while watching the movie. Some smokers used to put their beedi and bury them inside. So while digging, our hands used to pick them up and throw them. Later our hands also smelt those of beedis. While walking back home, we used to discuss about the characters in the movies. If the film had a sad end, the girls in our street used to have wet eyes, including my sisters.

It was a great experience to go for night shows as we started growing up. Most of the night shows had a MGR movie. There used to be rivalry between villages during second show. It was considered as a risk. But still we enjoyed going with friends. We used to gather the sand like children build castles nowadays in the beach and then sit on top of that to watch films without any hindrance. If there was anyone huge in front of us and hiding us in any way my friends used to grumble “Hey…listen he is sitting on the place where we spat…”. The person on hearing this, used to move away from that place and we would continue watching the movie without hindrance.

I could not understand why the films used to get cut while being shown. There used to be long whistles from the public especially if it was cut during interesting scenes. This was a common enquiry before deciding to watch the film.

“How is the new movie? Are there lots of cuts? Is it good print?” and stuff like that. We never understood the meaning of Eastman colour movie. By the time we realised to understand we grew up.

My Dad used to take me for night shows along with his friends, when I was even less than eight years. I still remember him, standing along with his friends and myself, discussing about the movie after the night show under a huge tree which was believed to be a home for ghosts.

I am glad that those tents which gave us so much of entertainment during our younger days, still exist.
Pic courtesy: Narayanan Venkitu