It starts with the time when electricity had yet not reached to my village. The time when the dogs in my village did yet not have poles to pee on. The time when I was around 9-10 years. And the time when it was the late 90s.
was is located in a rather backward area of eastern UP where the language commonly spoken is Bhojpuri– yes, the language to which the some cheapest-ish double meaning songs belong, at least many people think so. One of my favorite bloggers– Greatbong has rightly pointed out that 37.5% of Bhojpuri songs consist of the phrase “Choliya ke Hookwa”. Although, I don’t exactly know what research methodology he used, but the idea is somewhere close to the reality, it seems.
Coming back to the story, I belonged to the luckiest of the families in the area, who could afford solar panels and batteries– a distant substitute to electricity in those days. These batteries could serve their masters with power only enough for a maximum 3-4 light bulbs and a black-and-white television for 4-5 hours at max in the best sunny days. And whenever came rains and clouds, they would become as useful as buffalo-shit.
Nevertheless, Doordarshan and Sour Urja (Solar Power) batteries was a vital combination for us. But the options to watch movies or anything on TV as such were limited because of Doordarshan being the only channel.
Whenever we had some battery power left after the boring news show and daily soaps, that day, Doordarshan would telecast the shittiest movies from their collection. And Whenever there was a good movie to be shown, the battery would die because that day had been rainy or because of some other similar reasons. But even then, it was not as irritating as the slow internet connection might prove to be nowadays in some situations.
In those days, we had to trade-off between daily soaps and movies. We had to sacrifice one for the another because of the limited power supply.
We used to eagerly wait for weekends. Because Doordarshan showed movies only on Fridays at 9.30 PM and on Sundays at 4.00 PM. Sundays were eagerly waited because people were not in a habit of waking up till late night in villages.
Most of the times, while we watched a good movie, the battery would die just during the climax scene, leaving me feel like having a premature ejaculation.
The movies shown on DD were mostly the old ones and many times repeated. For the new movies, the people used to go to the Varanasi city which was 70 Km from the village. But not everyone went to the city. And even if they went, they could either not afford it or would not watch them, as watching cinema in theaters was considered to be a vice idea in those days, specially if one was a student. Parents would beat their sons if they discovered they went to a cinema hall. And boys were proclaimed as Awara if they went to a theater and considered guilty as if they had become pickpockets.
In my case, until I was 12, movie theaters were just a fantasy for me. The first time I saw a movie in theater was in 2003.
If people at my village felt like partying on some occasions or do something generous for the society. Guess what did they do? They would bring a TV set, VCD player, Some VCDs and a Generator on rent for 1-2 nights. And every one would be invited for the movie show in the evening after dinner.
They all would gather at the compound in the village. And everything– VCD Player, TV and generator would be connected and around 40-50 people would watch the movies– no matter how shitty they were, all the movies were liked. Many of the people, sitting at the far back, could not even hear the dialogues or see the characters’ face because of the distance but still they would watch the movies, just to get some mental satisfaction for themselves.
I was a small kid then and used to eagerly notice all the elders whenever I sat at the back. It was more interesting for me to observe them. I used to see them watch, enjoy and interpret and comment on the movies. And I remember to make the following observations and conclusions out of them.
For them, a good movie consisted of a Solid manly hairy hero, a Harami villain and some comedians. A movie without action was bullshit. And a romantic movie was pig shit for them. If someone by mistake brought a VCD of a romantic movie on rent, he was looked upon as if he was an eunuch.
90% of those movies were based on Dacoits. If the hero was a male Dacoit, it was mandatory that his sister will be raped by some Lala or Seth ji and to avenge her, he has to become Dacoit himself, than anyone else.
But what if the protagonist was a female? Then she herself would be raped by some Lala or Sethji and then she would become a Daku. And she would adopt name such as Ramkali, Hirabai, Sitabai or some other xyz-Bai.
All the movies of such kind had 80% similar stories. And that’s why I used to wonder why the people liked these movies so much. May be because of the rape scenes, I guess.
Those movie viewers could tolerate the hero’s sister or his wife getting raped. They could even tolerate the Maa-Baap of the hero getting murdered by the villain. But the one thing they could not tolerate was when the hero died in the film. If in a film, the hero dies in the climax, they would tag it as Bakwaas. How can a movie be good if they the hero himself dies in the end?
I wonder what would they say if they could ever watch
and understand Game of Thrones.
Songs. All songs were forwarded if the movie was being played on a VCD Player. But If the songs came in between a movie on Doordarshan, people would utilize that time by going for a pee and come back for the movie again before the song ended.
But the one thing I liked about them was their clear sense of dichotomy of songs and story. They watched movies for some action and not for songs and romantic bullshit as it normally happens in Bollywood. 80% of the movies, they would watch were of either Mithun Chakraborty, Dharmendra or some big blossomed female Dacoit heroine/ character in it.
According to most of them, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan and other chocolaty charming boys were crap of the heroes. But I also noticed them enjoying movies like Raja Hindustani, DDLJ etc. but confessing that these were really nice films were not considered manly and they felt shy admitting that. Only ladies would admit that these lads were good actors.
In 2002, for the well-being of the dogs, electric poles were brought and fixed in almost every lane of my village. And on a fortunate day, the electricity was finally supplied. People gradually started stealing Electricity and buying TV sets of their own.
Meanwhile, dogs also learned peeing on the electric poles. Achhe din aa gaye the tab.
Now almost every household in my village owns TV, VCD player and some better off ones own paid dish TV connections as well.
More than 10 yeas have passed but when I visit my village, I still find them having somewhat the same taste for movies. Only the names of the movies and actors have changed.