A debt of love and gratitude

At the first opportunity to buy a ticket and watch a film in a theatre, I rushed out because I felt I must. I needed to do my bit to show the entertainment industry that I care

A debt of love and gratitude

Amitabh Srivastava

It took me two years, well almost, to travel from INOX Cinema (R City Mall) at Ghatkokar West in Mumbai to Jaipuria SRS Cinemas in Indirapuram at Ghaziabad. Not that we did not want to go there but were not allowed by the lockdown.

I was among the last cine-goer to have watched the last morning show of Angrezi Medium in Mumbai on March 13,2020 because all theatres were closed down after that afternoon. So even though there were only ten of us in the theatre when we watched Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Gangubai Kathiawadi last Friday, I felt a certain feeling of gratitude when I bought tickets for the film, having written on films for almost two decades.

We did have more than our fair share of entertainment in these two years by way of cinema of various shades from various regions and countries. We saw short films, films from Korea, from Pakistan and Afghanistan during this period on various OTT platforms. I even indulged in what I never knew I had the stamina for- binge watching beginning with Money Heist in March 2020 as the pandemic forced everyone to stay safe (and keeping others safe) by staying indoors.

Back in Delhi for the past one year, we soaked in vintage Bollywood movies. Enchanting lyrics and music of Pyasa, Madhumati, Chori Chori, Chaliya, Asli Naqli, Pakeezah, Mughal e Azam kept us company and we heard them over and over again.

I fell in love with cinema all over again, like the child who was once so scared of watching Ek hi Rasta because it showed a train pass over an infant lying on the tracks. I had closed my eyes and did not open them till my father told me that the child had miraculously escaped.

Even more than films, what worked more on my psyche were biographies of some of these stars we have been watching on our TV sets on various OTT platforms of late. The stories of the struggles of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Pran, Rajesh Khanna, Johny Walker, Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh, many of them victims of Partition, as they worked in double shifts, slept without food for several days to entertain us, really touched me. They could have taken up normal jobs and perhaps become even rich by earning money by hook or crook.

A debt of love and gratitude

But the fact that these talented actors, writers, lyricists, directors chose instead to conjure up dreams, to make us laugh, cry and sing with them to forget our own worries, somehow made me feel indebted to them.

In the last two years the entertainment industry suffered a tremendous loss with cinema halls closed due to the pandemic. Hence at the first opportunity I got to buy tickets to watch a film in a cinema hall, I decided that I must do my little bit and contribute to give more power to people who distribute their love without discriminating on the basis of caste, religion or political ideology.

Such a rarity these days!

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.)

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