Thursday, 13 August 2020

Recounting History Of Four-Show Cinema

Updated: September 25, 2015 12:00 am

The book beyond an iota of a doubt gives a detailed insight into the Indian cinema of two different eras. The author, a scholar of Indian cinema, sums up a titanic voyage from a single screen hall showing one movie in all the four shows to the time of chic multiplex cinemas with shows and movies galore.

Ziya Us Salam National Award winning film critic and journalist has woven a fine yarn in compiling myriad shots that describe every single frame telling a tale wrapped up in sepia memories. A peek at that format of cinema is pretty picturesque with opus magnum types of flicks.

“Delhi Four Shows” eloquently written unfolds an old saga of the labyrinths of vintage memories of Indian cinema which are mint fresh on the author’s mind despite the fact the pictures have rolled into a big change over a span of few decades before finally slipping into the oblivion of yesteryear. The story seems more of a travelogue and painstaking research work into two of the cinemas and cine-goers with a thick line drawn.

The narrative is pretty simple, lucid and comprehensive with succinct paragraphs replete with riveting anecdotes that intrigue the readers. The author, an acute observer, seems to know the history of every single brick used in erecting picture halls from the walled city to the talkies in Jamunapar (East Delhi) and the like.

Movie lovers would come from adjoining areas in tractors to watch a film at Alpna, and park them in front of the cinema hall. But later on, the feeder buses started plying to ferry them only to replace tractors. The reader for a moment is strayed into the golden era of single screen halls, serpentine queues wrangling over tickets through a shouldering scratching crowd of movie bugs, some crazy lovers would run pell-mell for a first-day-first show something to boast of. Culture like trailers, promos and even posters for a movie next catches viewers’ fancy; tickets sold in the alleys around the cinema hall at a higher rate was a common thing, movie buffs would brag watching a movie on this ticket. The book talks more elaborately on the experiences of watching films in single-screen halls. From first class, the front rows to dress circle and to the balcony, considered to be for the elite and box for personal moments. Intervals or intermissions, a break between two of the halves of the film had snackswallahs, cold drinks sellers, fritters, papad etc as they all waited right at the doors of the hall for this hour.

Parking was no issue; many came riding cycles, some preferred rickshaws or tongas (horse driven carts). Buses and four-seaters (tuk-tuk) from old Delhi to Connaught Place was like going picnicking.  The book speaks many volumes about the cinema and those who relished the era are either no more or soon to go. The author seems to have seen the whole time go past him which he has detailed with great éclat involving all nuances and subtleties. The read is gripping with fine frames fixed impeccably that make the book all the more stimulating.  If you are a movie aficionado you will love to know a lot as the book has plenty of layers peeling up closely. When I flipped through the pages to read between the lines I found the read worth a read, a real page turner for different shades clicked immaculately that essay the whole story explicitly. The pace is rather gentle and gripping. The imagery employed by the author is awesome. It is an unputdownable book in toto.

By Syed Wajid25

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