Monday, February 16, 2009

24 times 70

Thus went the sexed-up name of an open elective course I had recently offered, on studying moviegoing in the 1970s. I was already working on a small research grant towards investigating "Suburban Sreen: Memories of Moviegoing in Bandra & Belghoria in the 1970s" and thought that an elective on a similar theme would be a comfortable spin off - a kind of buy 1 get 1 free end-of-season offer.

But these are recession times; the anticipated rush of candidates turned into not-even-a-trickle (with some of thus trickling misjudging their destination). The birdbrained bait of 24 'creative products' on 70s moviegoing, in just 10 days (and hence the title) was easily dodged by the smart set.

By the end one had 3-and-a-half partially interested participants, 2-and-a-quarter partially realised 'creative products' and a choke-full of sour grapes.

Beyond (and despite) the acetous fruit transpired some good things - a behind-the-scenes trip to an old single-screen cinema hall (groundworked by Mandakini, having especially come from Delhi to help), a humorous & affectionate recollection of eventful old visits to the Ahmedabad Drive-in (Shilpa at her eloquent best) and an astute & innovative presentation of the socio-political history of the times that were, through its postage stamps (Suchitra, the bonafide chronicler, among other things).

Last, but not the least, I read through the fat book that is "India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy" by Ramachandra Guha. Despite its unwieldy health (paperback edition of the tome literally comes apart) and widescreen ambition, the book manages to remain intelligent and cohesive. All my romance about the 50s and the 60s (the times one was young, or yet-not-born; when everything was more innocent, more wholesome, more true) (and the later times, when this florid innocence caught the virus) got punctured after reading the party pooper. Guha unveils post-Independence India to have always been a work in progress - thodi khushi, thoda gum - the para-struggle of human greed and munificence.

The well-informed softboard

...and its blockbuster counterpart.

Suresh Shah (centre), Rupam projectionist.
The first film he screened there was Manoj Kumar's Roti, Kapda aur Makan (1974).

Mandakini (foreground right) in the Rupam lobby.
Rupam was opened to the moviegoing public in 1952. Much of the architecture
and interiors have
remained unchanged since.

Shilpa in her elements.

1972 in stamps.

Wise men of the East.

Creative Product # 1
Arka's poster, inspired by his parents' life in 70s Kolkata.

Creative Product # 2
Anya & Meghana's unfinished board-game, based on Shilpa's animate nostalgia.


aeshna said...

This sounds so interesting - wish we had these kind of electives!
The irony of it all...

Rajat Nagpal said...

Hmmm... I can imagine why there were so few takers of the elective! Did you have a wholesome and rich experience!?

Averi said...

refreshing read...I wish I could a part of this.. I remember being miserable in the textile studio during my elective!

junuka said...

refreshing really...:)
such fun.

shilpa das said...

hey, i enjoyed that session arunda. haven't been so relaxed and had such fun with a class as i was with this one. thanks for inviting me. :)

Prachi Mokashi said...

perhaps it would have been the 90s moviegoing which might have created more enthu amongst the students...
athough the recollections would be differently contextualized, moments of nostalgia would've been more personal and with similar aura...

:) something i just thought of after reading your brand new posts.good to have you back..:)

p.s. i am still quite envious of your elective students...hehe!

Bondhu said...

The 70's show still shouts louder than any other decade in Indian cinema....i still love the mukherjee's n the chatterjees'...and the benegal's...they talk about US!!!!i wish i was a part of the elective!!