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By Nickunj Malik - Feb 22,2017 - Last updated at Feb 22,2017
It is no secret that Indian films are three hour-long musicals full of mellifluous songs. But with a rapid decline of good lyricists and music composers, sometimes those numbers can make our eardrums aquiver.
When I was a teenager, going to watch a movie was a planned outing, which my maternal uncles organised, every time I visited them. The only problem was that they would start fixing the date on the day of my departure, in an obvious attempt to make me delay or cancel it. My leaving, that is.
My relatives were an effervescent lot and celebrated everything with steaming cups of tea, especially when it rained, and a dewy petrichor spread around us. Hot fritters were the illicit add-ons, despite all of them being on a weight reduction diet. The joy they experienced from this was ineffable and was only superseded by a trip to the movies.
And so, after enticing me suitably and postponing my return, we would flock to the cinemas.
The moment the lights dimmed and a sonorous voice announced that we should switch off our cell phones; my uncles would push back the reclining seats to an almost supine position. Five minutes into the film, even before the nefarious villain cast his evil eye on the hero and heroine in sudden limerence, my uncles would start snoring.
The speed with which this happened left me stupefied. I looked around surreptitiously, hearing their nostrils bombinate, and as the sound increased, prayed that it would not be the cause of their defenestration. The luminescent screen, the iridescent light, the ethereal cinematography — nothing interrupted their deep slumber.
Surprisingly, only when the actors burst into song and dance, would they wake up, rubbing their eyes, blinking through the phosphenes and exclaiming, “What happened? What happened?”
They even looked around in confusion, like somnambulists, wondering how they got to where they were. It transpired every single time, during an epoch moment, in the middle of the picture. And then I had to patiently explain the plot to them while the smokers in the audience, who trooped outside the hall for the duration of the songs, would throw pitiful looks in my direction.
However, these breaks were ephemeral because much before the film’s denouement, my snoring uncles disappeared into their favoured state of stupor and oblivion. I often wondered why they bothered to go to the cinema, instead of taking a nap in the solitude of their homes.
Soon, I got an epiphany and realised that they could not help themselves because this was perhaps a genetic flaw. Like I was irresistibly drawn to old bookstores, where it did not matter if I bought those books or not, just being around them comforted me.
In a similar manner, my uncles gravitated towards the ancient movie theatres because it de-stressed them, and simply being there, cured their insomnia, albeit for a short duration. They did not have to wait for a syzygy in order to fall asleep.
Shortly I was so well trained that I supplied the storyline, even before they could prompt me to, and as soon as one of them woke up I would start narrating.
“The secretary was the murderer,” I explained.
“There was a murder?” asked the newly awakened uncle.
“Yes,” I nodded my head.
“What happened? What happened?” exclaimed the other one.
“And then her car rolled down the cliff,” I continued.
“She also died? How?” they both chorused.
“Pure serendipity,” I concluded.
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