Hindi & Bengali Cinema


Of Posters and Songs

Calcutta, 1986. A big school bus, starting from Kankurgachi and making a long detour through Salt Lake, advanced towards Dum Dum Cantonment via V.I.P Road, Lake Town, Bangur and Nagerbajar – picking up 50 giggling, chattering, quarrelling girls on the way. A skinny one in two pigtails (one of the first to be picked up early in the morning and last to be dropped late in the afternoon everyday) waited with baited breath. After exactly 1 hour 10 minutes, the bus would, after crossing Nagerbajar, enter a narrow path that had Jessop’s to the right and a wall of film posters to the left. That was the last stretch of road that finally took the 50+ students to their pristine white school run by nuns in pristine white uniform. The skinny girl waiting for that bend had just about three seconds to take in the main poster before the bus raced past it; a huge film poster, in full colour – with the hero and heroine in the middle; and villain and vamp and mother and friend on the sides. The films were many: Pyaar Ke Do Pal, Inquilaab, Aakhri Raasta, Sharaabi, Shahenshah, Nangina, Mr. India, Meri Jung, Yudh, Saagar; their posters delectable, enticing.

There was a certain guilty pleasure in that, in devouring those posters in 3 quick seconds. Hindi films were taboo then, their love scenes (read ‘songs’) considered improper viewing for a teenager. At home, the girl was brought up on an entertainment diet of ‘News’ on weeknights and Bengali films on weekends, shown on Calcutta Doordarshan (which she had to earn by studying ‘properly’ the whole week). As for the Hindi film songs: so what if she could not see them in ‘Chitrahaar’ (a weekly program of film songs on TV)? She could hear them on the way to school and back on the bus’s stereo system (usually in top volume)! She, in fact, did not stop at that – she wrote down the lyrics and learnt them by heart. Her classes began much before school. On her way back home, her best friend and she sang the latest hits to each other.

No prizes for guessing who the skinny girl was! Yours’ Truly. I love watching films – love it next only to reading books. Indian Cinema completed 100 years in 2013 – hence, thought of celebrating it by sharing my love for and insights about it with others. What better way can there be than a blog?!

February 7th, 2014


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Calcutta, 1986. A big school bus, starting from Kankurgachi and making a long detour through Salt Lake, advanced towards Dum Dum Cantonment via V.I.P Road, Lake Town, Bangur and Nagerbajar - picking up 50 giggling, [...]