Monday, February 2, 2009

The day I became "old" ...

This completely fictional tale was posted on in 1993

"Hey bhai, you should move on with time, you know." Nishank, my cousin, 5 years younger than me, was giving me lectures in Philosophy. The reason ? Simple. We were debating, (we never quarrel), which movie to see.

It all started on a hot afternoon. We were all together to attend a marriage. After heavy lunch the "old people" were busy eating paan, or enjoying a nap. We the "young ones" decided to see the first show in a nearby cinema hall. It was a twin theater, and so naturally there were two movies running. And therein lay the whole problem.

Nishank, wanted to see the Anil Kapoor movie Jamairaja, released recently and I wanted to see Don, running "on popular public demand". We, as usual, had very strong opinions and quickly started an argument. Others were silently enjoying.

"What do you want to see in Jamairaja ?" I demanded.

"And what to you want to see in Don ?" He retorted.

"What do you mean ? It's an Amitabh movie, and that's sufficient."

"Of course not. It's an old movie, and we all have seen it. Where Jamairaja is new, just in it's second week. None of us has seen it. And it stars Anil Kapoor."

"Of course we have seen it, but we won't mind seeing it again, do we ?". I looked around, and saw the look on the face of my other cousins and my legs trembled a bit. Among all my cousins only Sunil was on my side. Others just murmured something. But I was not to give up so easily, I mean after all the argument had just started.

I carried on. "And you want to see that Anil Kapoor for 3 Hrs ? That Anil Kapoor whose definition of acting is to just shout and shout as loudly as he can. You want to spend 9-10 Rs. just to see that mongoose-faced ?".

"How dare you ?" came the piercing shriek. I turned around.

Oh, Nehali, another cousin of mine. Who else ? Who else can have a shrilling sound that is octaves higher than that of Lata in the song "Main hun khushrang Henna". I also wanted to shout to give a fitting reply. Alas ! I don't have a voice like Mahendra Kapoor to shout like he does while saying "Mahaaaaabhaaarat". But even before I had a chance, she continued.

"How dare you say such things about Anil ?" (I didn't know he was on first name basis) "He is the most handsome actor in the film industry. So manly he is !". She sometimes talks like Pooja Bedi.

"Handsome ? Anil Kapoor ? He is the most hairy person in tha phillum idoostaaree. More hairy than Vinod Mehra." I laughed.

"That is his sex-appeal you nut. And your Amitabh aka Vijay ? He has the most improportionate body for a hero."

I felt the blood temperature in my body rising. "What crap ! He has the Personality. And we want to see ACTING ! Not just a statue of some Greek God ..."

But she had clearly gone to the opposition camp. "NO, NO. NOOOO. We are seeing Jamairaja or not seeing any movie."

I realized how untactful I have been. I should have known how the girls feel about their Anil. Even though I KNEW :) that Anil Kapoor has a face like a mongoose, I shouldn't have said it. But when had I been tactful ? Had I understood how a girl feels, wouldn't I have been able to patao that most-beautiful-girl-ever-to-have-walked-on-the-face- of-earth-and-who-lives-in-the-next-building ? But I digress.

Nishank continued, "Hey bhai, you should move on with time, you know. Anil has come, Amit is going." In his poetic best, Nishank looked like a devilish combination of Madan Puri and Ajit.

I slowly began to understand that I am fighting a losing battle. But I don't give up so easily. I looked at Sunil. His face was full of sympathy. After all, as kids, we had sung "Yeh dosti, hum nahin chhodenge" many times together. We used to imitate all the scenes in that Hera-pheri, I always acting Amitabh. He was the only one of my age. Others were a lot younger to us.

He came to me, put an arm around my shoulders and said a sentence that made me accept my defeat immediately. He said, "I guess we are getting old, Abhay".

Getting old ? OLD ? Not so soon ! In Bombay when you are walking on the streets near Shivaji Park, suddenly a ball comes rolling to your feet. Some Gavaskar or Tendulkar has hit an off-drive. The kids call out to you for their ball. I have now got used to their cries "Uncle, uncle ball de do na". My becoming "uncle" like this does not make me angry nowadays. I have come to accept the fact that I "look" old. But I "am" not old ! I mean reaching quarter century doesn't make you "old".

But as Sunil said, we were perhaps too much stuck in the past, as far as the Hindi films go.

Sadly and silently I went along to see Jamairaja. Wondering whether to adjust myself to Anil Kapoor era, or to get "old". I decided to get "old".

The only consolation was that, the tickets of Jamairaja were easily available, and Don was selling in black.

- Abhay.
"Budhdha mil gaya" could be my wife's favourite song.
But I prefer not to ask.

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