The charm of glitz and blitz bit me like a bee sting at a very young age when I abhorred to count numbers and remembering formulas which never made any sense to me. It became my universe of imaginary dreams to make them come true. Churning magic on screen to make my world go perfectly round. After all, dreams don't have to be true in real but reel. The silver screen where all worries were forgetting at the flip of a coin and three hours of masti as I sat and gaped in wonder at the fight scenes, romance, tickling fun and songs playing on the big screen. The Hindi movies that I watched over the decades, emulating my favorite stars turned me into the ultimate filmi keeda.
I am an avid collector of movie tickets, right from the Pune days where E-square became my permanent home watching movies as early as 8.30 a.m or 10 a.m skipping lectures, at lunch time or as late as 11 p.m at night. Movies made me switch off from the real world to enter an ocean of lights, camera, and action. Over the years, movie tickets at the box office, be it in Pune or Mumbai and other places on earth were never trashed but carefully preserved. It became my treasure trove and harbinger of memories.
There is no dearth of movie tickets in various colors with the logo of the theater or multiplexes, the advance bookings made and show timings which I haven't collected. Over the years, the print has faded out and it felt like magic holding this piece of paper in my hand, a reminder of the days that was and the love affair with the movies watched over time.
It's been a joy ride of watching movies and nothing can come between me and my first love, the movies during the first day, first show and throwing taalis and seethis on screen. Cinema is a culture in India and being part of something enshrined in us Indians is something every movie-goer is proud of. The tickets collected over time shows the loyalty, admiration and hero worship for the stars we revere like anything and the fascination for the magic of film-making who teases us with every aesthetic shot and frame to make movie-watching a grand and opulent affair. It brought us closer to our cities and reality, at the same time. The sheer joy of watching Mumbai our city and places like Marine Drive where we would walk every single day which is shot on a majestic scale makes it so real. Who says it's all about selling a dream? If it does, who gives a fuck! The magic lies within.
The cinema tickets reminds us of the first movie watched or the ones I went with the love interest during the carefree days. Cinema is all about the days of romance where it brought us together, holding hands or stealing a kiss in the dark. I am a hoarder and love keeping the movie tickets accumulated over the years for it represents something unique which made me profess my love for Hindi films. There were the classics, blockbuster hits but also the damp squib. Good or bad, it was all about the love for movies.
I still remember the first English film I watched in Pune was Matrix 2 at Vijay Theater and my first Hindi movie was Mein Prem Ki Deewani Hoon. I couldn't get the ticket at E-square which was freshly inaugurated and was a couple of bricks away and the distance of a road, just behind my house. I took the rickshaw and stormed my way to Mangala. Mumbai was another feast and Eros Theatre opposite Churchgate Station was the place I was a regular, enjoying the latest flick at the balcony for just 60 bucks and Stalls for 40 bucks in the days of yore.
The biggest misnomer in our Indian lives has been the storming of multiplexes that has made cinema an extremely expensive affair. As I glean through my decade-old cinema tickets and the affordable prices, be it Apsara, Sterling in VT, New Excelsior or Liberty as well as Esquare who at that time became a new experience in cinema for Punekars. I remember paying as low as 40 bucks for morning shows in Pune but the same cannot be said, nowadays. Multiplex or traditional theater, the joy of watching movies on the silver screen is the common man's staple in a country like India that must be accessible to everyone. I believe that it's a golden rule.
The clapping of hands and thunderous applause with hero ka entry and punch lines where the audience irrespective of gender, caste or clas whistle loudly is something that could only be experienced in India. The best thing is that nothing can ever beat the joy of sitting on the wooden chair in a typical theater, munch on samosas and watch your favorite stars doing maar dhaar or gyrating to the chartbusters. The tickets trace my journey as an audience who swears by films watching over the years and the thrilling experience of seeing cinema evolve over the years.
I am a film crazy person. It's my daily diet and cannot imagine living without them. The movie experience in Indian is diverse, whether watching in small theaters or iconic ones and even, for that matter, cool, jazzy and expensive ones. At the time, I even watched movies at Inox at Nariman Point where the ticket price blew my mind and money which I wouldn't normally dispense. Of course, I was mesmerized by the luxury, the super rich crowd and fancy velvet seats where you could order your coffee or popcorn by not moving an inch. You were served right in front of your seat.
It's the experience that makes you love the celluloid to no end. I identify with films. With time, I may watch fewer movies on the big screen but at least in a year, I make it a point to watch a minimum of 10 to 12 flicks. Like they say, Lights! Camera! Action! It's a tryst with destiny. I am a proud filmi child whose movie tickets do all the talking and no power in the world would tempt me to give them away or sell to make a killing on the market. It's my wealth.