Though this blog is a travelogue that I maintain, I am hereby sharing a hilarious movie experience with you all. Since I watched this movie on one of my trips, hence including it into this blog would not be an awkward thing I guess. As promised, my next posts would be on Kumaon. This is in some way a comic relief if I may say so.
More than two years ago, I along with three of my friends visited Hazaribag. The return train was from Koderma and we reached the place in evening. Since the train was around midnight, we had ample time at our hands and we decided to roam around the city after keeping our luggage at the station cloak room. First we had our evening tea and snacks but still there was plenty of time to kill and wandering through the streets of Koderma after sundown did not seem to be a good option, so we started looking forward to any cinema that we could watch until it was time for us to catch the train. We saw a poster of “Welcome”, a new Hindi release running at a local theatre and sought the direction of the cinema hall from a few local shopkeepers. However, when we reached the theatre, we found another movie was running there and did not find any known face in the leading star cast. Only we could recognize a couple of veteran character artists. Since there was no alternative we decided to go for it albeit it appeared to be a B-grade movie. But to tell the truth we would have missed a lifetime experience should we have given it a miss. I have never seen a more unintentionally humorous movie and only a few flicks shown at late night Zee Cinema or some dubbed South Indian flicks repeated regularly on Set Max can come close. I am trying to give you all an overview of the story but do not recall the name of the movie.
Before the movie however, I would like to give a few details about the cinema hall just to create the atmosphere. A square piece of land between two three storied buildings was converted into a theatre with a screen at one end. One of the buildings was being painted and the workers often enjoyed the movie and smoked bidis during their breaks relaxing on the bamboo structure that built for the painting purpose. And anyone could go inside the hall since there was no gatekeeper and there were no seat numbers as well so anyone could sit anywhere. And only after the movie started, the front gates were closed and the ushers checked the tickets. I was wondering what they would do with someone without a ticket since he would not have any chance of escaping. Now I should start sharing with you all the story of the movie.
The movie starts with a front angle shot of Rashtrapati Bhavan and then shows a man standing on one of the balconies of the President’s residence, from the back, who very much resembles Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the then President , with his long white hair. In the movie also he was the current President of India. Then suddenly the movie goes to flashback thirty years behind present age and starts narrating his journey to Mumbai, then Bombay, from a small village in Tamil Nadu, just like Dr. Kalam. He is on his way to Bombay IIT where thirty brilliant scientists from all over India are summoned by a government initiative to build a deadly war weapon. Before that it was shown that the then President called for the three chiefs of army, navy and air-force respectively and stressed for building an indigenous war weapon. Now our hero is a promising young nuclear scientist and fits to the requirement but we were amazed to find a botanist in that group as well. So I presume biological weapons were not alien thirty years earlier or at least the director did not think so. Our hero boards from a small ferry boat in a custom tailored suit and heads straight for Bombay IIT and from then the movie goes to “A Beautiful Mind” mode.
Just like John Nash the hero is in search for something unique and indigenous to submit his thesis on, derailing from the fact that the scientists were called in the first place for researching on weaponry. And to confirm if you have already guessed, he is schizophrenic like Russel Crowe who portrayed Nash in the original. And similar to Ed Harris who portrayed the fictitious secret agent in the original, here a wing commander (who will be later found out to be imagination of the hero) contacts our hero to catch signals of the Pakistani spies and believe it or not he goes up a ladder and adjusts a Tata-Sky like dish antenna and boom, the job is done. Our intelligence offices should learn a trick or two from our directors and scrip-writers. And in the mean time the others were busy doing their experiments in a chemistry laboratory at IIT which is more appropriate for a class VI science project in some junior school. As in “A Beautiful Mind” the end date is approaching for submission of the report and our hero has not found anything yet. During one such morning, the news paper man throws a rolled up news paper at his feet and he gets his million dollar idea. No, it has nothing to do with the throw or the trajectory it followed but a front page news story on video piracy. But all this time the news paper has remained rolled up, so how he sees the story is anybody’s guess. The hero plans to provide the video CDs with a protective layer of gamma rays so that each time one watches a pirated video disc one will lose one’s eyesight little by little and once one reaches watching a fair amount of pirated movies, say hundred, one will go blind. Nothing will happen if one only watches the original disc. Now can you imagine CDs in 1970s, even if you can fathom the bizarre idea about protection against video piracy? But the problem is where from to get the gamma rays. No problem whatsoever, a friend of the hero is in touch with the underworld where gamma rays are black-marketed and he brings some for our hero in a brief case.
From here on the movie goes in the RGV flick “Company” mode. There are two groups in the underworld just like Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan gangs as was played by Ajay Devgan and Vivek Oberoi and one of them makes its fortune from video piracy. So they are hell bent on stopping our hero from implementing his plan. The other group tries to protect him and the result is a gang-war on the Bombay streets with men going down daily in number which may give competition to the annual mortality count of India. And in the mean time, the bad baddies go up to the hero’s village and kills every one of his family. Too sad, that the good baddies could not prevent. One funny scene I remember is that one of the female relatives of the hero reacted to a bullet wound even before the bullet could reach her. I am sure Rajnikanth would have surely dodged the bullets given his speed which is faster than light. So, the hero becomes all the more determined to teach a lesson to the gang who killed his family by actually making his great idea work. I was slowly coming to terms with the concept of video piracy in India in 1970s. And in between there was references to a dictatorial ruler of an African state who eats human flesh that the other underworld group supplies to him. This too I think has some factual basis if I can recall a not so recent news report. So who blames our cinema not to be based on society truths?
Did I tell you that there was a heroine thrown in as well who passed medicine from Italy (is this the Sonia Gandhi twist?) and is treating our hero’s schizophrenia. She seems to have worked in some TV commercials or at least can be a look alike. The interesting thing is for all the song dance sequences she is shot in foreign locations where as the hero is shot in Bandra or Marine Drive. But then again the budget may be just enough to fly the heroine, the cameraman and of course the producer and may be the director to fly to the foreign locations. And as far as treatment is concerned, she relies more on praying to deities than any medical action.
Now that finally our hero has come out with his invention and the test was successful (I was wondering how many people he must have turned blind for testing his invention and people only complain about government eye hospitals!) NASA came in to recruit him into its fold and with him his invention. This was a little over the top even for the particular movie standard. Why would NASA need anti-video-piracy invention for space research? Are there aliens out there doing video piracy as well? Only if some one tells Steven Spielberg about this. Then we can have a sequel to E.T. While we were thinking about this the nationalist twist came into the movie. The hero rejected the American citizenship and million dollar job because of his strong loyalty to his motherland. After all “saare jahaan se achchha Hindustan humara” as he told the men from NASA.
And what to tell about the acting skills of the hero. He is well built and has a good physique. And he goes shirtless many a times. And… Hello we were talking about acting skills here. Okay, okay, so to sum it up he was trying to copy Salman Khan. What? Now don’t tell me he does not have any acting skills? After all he is demigod only may be lesser in stature that Big B or Shahrukh Khan for that matter. He surely knows how to act.
We were so much engrossed in the movie by then that we did not notice that we were running late and we did not have our dinner also. So with a heavy heart and against our free will we had to leave the cinema hall. I do not remember the name of the movie now but if I can ever get hold of a CD of the movie (not pirated – I don’t want to go blind!) I would surely love to watch the end. Why the authorities did not send it to the Oscars? Where is Lagaan in comparison? Whew!