Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bollywood Style in Jaipur

After days of seeing Jaipur, India's pink city, some fellow travelers and I decided to check out the local cinema's Bollywood offering. It was certianly an experience.

Lining up to buy tickets was a tiring and confusing experience in itself. While in line, every two seconds someone stopped to tell me that, "Movie is in Hindi. No English." I repeatedly assured people that it would be fine, but from the looks on their faces I could tell that they were doubtful. Reaching the ticket counter, there was considerable confusion. The man could not understand which date or time I wanted to attend the movie, he did not understand how many tickets I needed and, of course, I was told, "Movie in Hindi. You no understand."

After finally sorting out dates and times, I was faced with the option of purchasing Ruby, Emerald or Diamond section tickets. Asking questions about the merits of each section did little to help my decision. The vendor could not explain why I would choose one over another, beyond repeating, "Diamond. More expensive. You like." Eventually I decided to go middle of the road, and was given three Emerald Section tickets, leaving me with a case of buyer's remource, wondering if I should have perhaps opted for the Diamond Section tickets.

The movie theatre was the nicest building I have seen since arriving in India. It actually rivaled the Taj Mahal. Entering the theatre, the doors opened into a large, ornate lobby. It was a high-ceilinged room with mirrors, gold and carpeting throughout. And it was clean, so clean, the cleanest thing I have seen in all of India. I felt like I had stepped into some high class hotel rather than a theatre. There were no bright neon lights, video games or huge movie posters. Instead, it felt like an old playhouse.

After buying a "Thumbs Up" - India's answer to Cola - and a chocolate bar, we entered to find our seats. The emerald section was at the back of the theatre, which struck me as being the worst seats. I later learned that the Diamond section was in the balcony. Strangely, it seemed that the best seats, those in the middle, were the least expensive ruby section. They were empty. I guess that selection of movie seats is a cultural thing.

Another cutlural phenomenon I experienced was the audience itself. Apparently it is acceptable to talk, or rather scream, into your lit up cell phone throughout a movie in India. I think that the man next to me was giving his wife a play-by-play breakdown of the plot. In fact, most people talked at full voice throughout the movie, and it was like they were in conversations on other intense subjects, rather than watching the film. It is also apparently not considered rude to get up repeatedly to leave the theatre, while stomping on people's toes. Finally, it also appears to be ok, and in fact encouraged, to bring wailing newborn babies to movies here in India. These babies cried through the entire 3 hours. I don't get it....

I cannot believe that I sat through a three hour movie that was completely in Hindi. Strangely enough, I found myself understanding the entire story, which wasn't difficult because it was a bad Weekend At Bernie's rip off. The story basically involved a drunk who wins the lottery, calls to claim the ticket and then promptly dies. His body is discovered holding the winning ticket and soon, after a series of increasing crazy events, the village tries to pretend that he is still alive so that the local lottery inspector will hand over the money. I am sure that you can imagine the dead body gags that ensured. Sadly there was only one impromptu dance number, which at least did not involve the dead body.

The audience loved it. They roared with laughter. They snorted. They cried. They pointed at the screen. They kicked the seats in front of them. They repeated back lines to each other. They didn't stand up until the full credits had rolled. They thought that it was cinematic genius.

Me? I give it 3 stars out of 5.


Blogger FritzDawg said...

What a coincidence! I was talking to my friend Som and he was in that movie theatre - he was the one screaming into his phone (he said he had to scream because some canadian girl who didn't understand the movie was causing havoc beside him)... he said that you would know who he was because he stepped on your toes a few times and also kicked the seats around you... I know that he was with you because he said that the Canadian girl was battered/bruised from some massage and also covered in rat poo...

what's new on my end? the strike is officially over - I am SO happy to be back with my students - my cognitive psyc students were wonderful this morning... I think I have THE best college students in Ontario ... I am so impressed with their maturity and their attention span (I had to teach TWO chapters in ONE class today - about 6 hours of material in 2.5 hours) :)

I'm happy you're having a great time, but I can't wait until you're back ... Basc is leaving soon and that leaves old mother alfie's sporting the Canadian alfie's flag by herself until you get back...

travel safely!

9:00 PM  

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