In Celebration of Bombay Talkies

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Illustration of Waheeda Rehman in 'Guide'

Street art showing Waheeda Rehman in ‘Guide’. Photo Credit: Meanest Indian via Compfight cc

Love is – Bombay Talkies!

There’s no shame in it – so let’s just face the world and say it out loud: we Indians are addicts – filmi addicts! We are incomplete without cinema; we have our withdrawal symptoms if we don’t get our quota of Bollywood films, be it in a darkened theater, a borrowed video or a sighting on Netflix. Life without our desi cinema is unimaginable, for who will teach us about love and heartbreak, truth and beauty, family and sacrifice? We need Raj Kapoor’s blue blue eyes to tell us about yearning and lost love; we need Amitabh Bachchan to paint the harsh complexities of life and strife; and we need Shah Rukh Khan to tell us how to battle a million obstacles and win the sweetheart we all dream of.  All this – set to the music which every lover of Indian cinema has coursing in their veins.

Each one of us has special memories of the first time we saw an Indian film. We remember the cinema halls, the crowds, the treats of samosas and Coca-Cola, the excitement at the pit of our stomachs, the sheer anticipation.  We remember dressing up to go to the cinema – the big event of the week! Sometimes in a cinematic binge we’d even catch three movies – a morning show, a matinee and an evening show. Everything happened at the cinema – life happened in the dark – love, marriage, birth and death – all on the big screen. Cinema was our religion, our philosophy of life.

Too Many Dilip Kumars

The first film I ever saw was with the entire family at the age of five, a Dilip Kumar starrer. To this day, I don’t know the name. I remember a scary scene where for some reason there are three Dilips – a dramatic scene with a lot of conflict,  agony, sweating  – it frightened me so much I started hollering and insisted on getting out of that dark dungeon. My older sister who had to miss the entire movie and sit with me in the empty lobby was pretty mad but nothing could get me back into that weird dark place!   Of course, eventually I grew older and wiser, gave Indian cinema a second chance and – LOVED it! During my teen years cinema was my sweet addiction and what taught me all about life, heartbreak and romance.

In time I became the one to introduce my six-year-old niece to Hindi cinema, taking her to see a movie for the very first time – ‘Janwar’ starring Shammi Kapoor and Rajashree. As the magic of cinema unfolded, it was great to see my niece’s eyes widen with delight and the smile break on her face. And so another life-long filmi-addict was created.

Walk on crowded city streets and you see the posters, the life-size hoardings; you hear the street urchins yodel filmi songs and you see the vast devoted crowds lining up outside the cinema hall as if it was the Temple of Life.  Yes, film is in our DNA!

As Indian cinema celebrates its 100th year birthday, many initiatives are being undertaken to celebrate this jubilee. I just came across this delightful video and had to share it with other film addicts. Happy watching! A toast to Indian cinema’s next 100 years!

 

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About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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