Growing up in a rural Indian village, it was cinema that taught us to dream and believe in that dream. Server Sundaram telecasted in Podhigai, Suryavamsam in KTV and Annamalai in Raj TV were enough for a kid to believe that hard work paid off. After watching Badhri, the martial arts school in my town doubled in strength. The time before technology took over, everything we knew had to be either from our text books or movies.
The Hollywood movies that were dubbed in Thamizh and released in neighborhood towns were jaw dropping for a kid who had barely seen anything apart from those 4 or 5 Thamizh channels. I still get scoffed at in family functions for being the kid who ran away from the seat seeing a dinosaur for the first time on screen. The T-Rex walked out of the fence and before I could realise, he was screaming along with me in chorus. The memory of how I survived the following 90 minutes is so fresh every today. When we finally walked out of the theater, my body temperature was 101 degrees.
Movies made us think, and educated a villager on how a day in a Metro was and making a Chennaite realise the hardships involved in agriculture and irrigation. As Indian kids it was a taboo to talk about love making or even love as an idea. Movies acted as a tool that made one feel romance deeply, with those soulful dialogues and soul filling BGMs. Madhavan’s charming proposal in Alaipayudhey helped one gain confidence when one first approached a girl. Gautham Menon’s nuances of looking at the eyes, and surprising the girl, actually helped the teens of that generation start a chapter of romance in their own lives. Films created fantasies, making one add K.V.Anand’s song locations in their bucket list. Rose whispering to Jack (Titanic) “Draw me like one of your French girls with that, with only that” remains an unaccomplished desire until today.
The first movie without parents is considered as the gear shift from adolescence to adulthood in most Indian families. Standing in the long queue for a Rajini movie, looking at people performing rituals for posters and banners, the S of superstar on screen, and the theater going thundering with the howling and whistling is the biggest bonanza a movie fan can ever experience. By the time the crowd settles down and the dialogues become audible, the movie will be past its plotting point.
Theaters have changed, artists have changed, technology has changed but the approach of the audience towards cinema remains an unaltered tradition until date. We Indians are known for such traditions, without Home alone on Star movies for Christmas, Mahanadhi on Raj Tv for Pongal, the festival feels incomplete. Jai-Hind on Sun TV is a patriotic duty for many. OTT has arrived and audiences have evolved beyond genres and languages. The service of cinema to human civilization in the past century is immense. One such service is required until humans want to learn and listen to stories as cinema is the last and most successful art of storytelling.
- Staeny Suthan