Under the shadows of stage curtains

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    -Shreshtha Bansal

    Growing up with an elder brother meant watching Bollywood movies together, sometimes in the drawing room, on VCR, curled up in quilts on winter nights, sometimes on hot noonday of summer breaks in front of the cooler. Some years later, on the desktop PC for which he frequently brought rented CDs from the nearby store during the summer vacation. Since, he was older, he was allowed to go to watch cinema with his friends occasionally. And at night, he honestly narrated the detailed tales of his animated experience. We never had fights on those nights; they were the nights of the story telling. How I adored the way he used to remember all the dialogues and mimic them with impeccable expressions! Sometimes acting like Amar from Andaz Apna Apna (Jhakkas!) and at times being Baaje from Malamal weekly. Chup chupke being played endless number of times on our desktop screen. Hence, I was nurtured to be a lover of Bollywood, following Cinema like a religion.

    As I began to grow, I was allowed to visit theaters more often and there began the fun ride. An end to exams meant watching the film I had been anxiously awaiting. And when the curtains curled up, my eyes lighted up in the dark room with necks craning to watch the magic unwind. When the screen turned red, I began to dream of love. When the pangs of separation hit, I did shed some tears.

    I began to envision the characters. Seeing the cute, specky-eyed Naina (Priety Zinta) from Kal Ho Na Ho, I began to dream of an angel who would teach me to smile, to live again and to be beautiful. Soon, I metamorphosed into Geet (Kareena Kapoor) from Jab We Met. I began to smile and talk a lot. I began to carry my heart on sleeves, ready for all the consequences.

    Then the college started and Cinema became an integral part of my life. Sharing same interests in cinema became synonymous to being same kind of persons. Then I began to delve deeper into questions of one’s identity. Soon, like Laila (Katrina Kaif) in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, I began to think how I want to lead my life. How do I know there will be tomorrow? I thought, I must seize the day. Transforming into wilder forms, I began fantasizing myself as Heera (Alia Bhat) from Highway, dreaming of running free and wild, away from the rigmaroles of daily life, on the streets, in the mountains, sleeping in the dirt, under the stars. Rang de basanti and Gangs became the new bonhomie.

    Caught up in the idiosyncrasies of my parents and hypochondriac grandparents, I began actively imagining myself as Piku (Deepika Padukone), with my grandpa with constant constipation as Bhaskor Baneerjee. I began to take better care of them all.

    Then came a masterpiece, the turning point. As I entered into the multiplex, right after I exited the gates of the examination centre, I saw the grand storytelling, not telling just one tale, but bringing the memories of all the lost ones. Yes. Tamasha it was. I began to imagine myself as Tara, the one inclined towards appreciating the art and eventually falling in love with it. But then I could have been Ved as well, caught in an identity crisis constantly seeking answers to andar kya hai? (What is inside?).

    The journey that began from loving and admiring cinema soon became one of self discovery. From single screen to multiplexes, as cinema grew both in number and quality, I grew with it, as a person.


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