Satyam Shivam Sundaram

Varun Dhyani
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When ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ movie arrived in Jamnagar, it was already 1 year since first premiered in Bombay. Much hype was generated prior to and when movie released. It was into its next year but still you could see people wag their tongue about the movie. I was in 12th standard and studying in Baroda. On my vacation I visited Jamnagar. My elder brother, in University then, was also on visit to Jamnagar.
I saw the posters overtly displayed in Amber theatre while I was on ‘Ghoda Gaadi’ on way back from station to my house. The posters, as we know, threw every young boys imagination into air. Being young boy myself, and the kind of boy I was, everything went on air for me. I decided I have to see the movie. Forget about the artistic touch of Raj Kapoor, lucid story or other cinematic reason, I had simple motto of watching for myself - how the ‘still’ titilating Zeenat Aman in poster would look like when ‘live’ in moving film on screen! Enough drive to go for movies. Particularly if you are young boy of 17-18.
It was certified ‘A’ movie and hence only the legitimate adult had privilege to watch the movie. Technically I was not legitimate. However, I had all illegitimate means to certify my ‘legitimacy’. A door man of Amber theatre was good acquaintance of mine; somebody whom you could trust on and actually ‘buy’ on with extra rupees!

So one fine afternoon, I decided to go for Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
I knew very well that if people know you have gone to see this movie, it would be socially not accepted. Even people, who have seen the movies umpteen times secretly, will join the bandwagon of guys’ criticizing you to unlimited extremes. I have seen one of our Colony boy subjected to social castration when he was caught seeing the movie Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
Jovune, Joshi uncle na baba ne? Aavi to koi picture jovai? Sharam nahi aavi ene?”  I have seen my father, my uncles and aunties of the colonies, all yelling the same way to Jr. Joshi, the culprit. Thus before going to movie I had to make sure my name does not come in the culprit list. I thought over the show time of the movie and concluded that 3 to 6 was the best time for me. This was the time when most of the ‘deadly’ uncles would be away in office and equally ‘deadly’ aunties would be safely sleeping in the house.
Well, once fixed the time, the arrangement for tickets was made. The doorman arranged one upper-class ticket for me. I rewarded him with extra 5 rupees as his service charges. His service charges also included letting me in the theatre as ‘legitimate’ adult. I reached the theatre and my mark men gave me the ticket. I made survey of the entire audience to make sure no ‘known one’ is around. Being satisfied with my survey, I entered the hall. Advertisement was going on. ‘Nirma-Nirma-Nirma, washing powder Nirma’ was the flavor of advertisement those days. My number was probably in 8th or 9th row from back in upper class. The theatre was not housefull but still enough gentry for one to worry, particularly-for the one who is looking for ‘known ones’.
As advertisements were going on, I again surveyed the gentry in the hall. And suddenly to my surprise I saw my elder brother Ashok seating on left hand corner of the last row of upper class. He too seemed to surveying the crowd in the hall for ‘known ones’. I was terrified. They say devil thinks fast in the time of crisis. So was I. Did he see me? That was the first question that came across my mind. The way he was searching the ‘known ones’ in the crowd assured me that at least, he has not seen me. Next worrying thought was how to make sure he does not see me for the entire show. How could I make that possible? I was just 8-9 rows away from him. I decided I need to move away from him. 

Only way for me to go away is to move forward, towards the lower class seat. Well, amid perspiration and anxious moments I kept watching him all throughout the advertisement and ducking down when he was looking in my direction. Advertisement passed off peacefully and real movie started. The hall went in complete darkness. I took the opportunity to move on to front second seat of lower class and diametrically just opposite to him. I looked back at him. He looked almost diminished in crowd from this distance. I would be also diminished in crowed if he sees me. Convinced, that he could no more see me, or even possibility of him seeing me but not recognizing me, I took a deep breath and started watching the titles of the movie. From the front benches, or ‘bakdas’ as we called, the screen looked too big. But since I was on the extreme corner, the screen looked somehow sideway and oblong too. Secondly, you have to move your head to watch both end of the screen. Never mind, I said to myself, I have come here to see Zeenat. Hence on any given frame of the movie, I could still see Zeenat and only move my head if she goes on other side of the screen. Even if can’t see other characters of the movie, who cares? After all it was Zeenat who is going to ‘paisa wasool’ for me.
In between the scenes when Zeenat was not around, I would turn around my head to watch what other ‘Big Devil’ is doing. My brother was now looking straight into the screen enjoying every bit of things I was enjoying from the front bench. Who says Devils don’t have common cause!!
Back of the mind, I was working on how to deal the situation during Interval of the movie. Those days, the lights would go full in the theatre during Interval and there was every possibility ‘Big Devil’ could sight me. Best option left for me was to leave the hall just before the Interval when it is still dark around. As Interval approach, I was on my feet and headed straight to public toilets. I decided I will go to toilets before ‘Big Devil’ goes. And then move out of hall for smoking cigarette. Going to toilets during Interval was more of rituals than necessity in Jamnagar those days. People will just rush to toilets no matter they may not necessarily intend to offload themselves. However they would try doing so standing on the wall mounted toilets seats and give anxious moments to next ‘genuine’ customer standing in the queue. I did the same and after giving some anxious moments to ‘genuine’ guys’ next waiting, shot off the toilet room leading into the crowded gallery.
As I walked out in gallery, next chilling surprise unfolded. When I saw it my heart was literally spilt in two out of fear. ‘Fearsome Tiger’, as what we called our dad those days, was right there, in the gallery, near cigarette-wala, smoking cigarette. Panic gripped me and I cursed my stars. Why the hell I came to see this movie? Fear of ‘Big Devil’ was overpowered by fear of ‘Fearsome Tiger’. All devilish thoughts came to standstill. I just turned around and headed back into the public toilet room. What a strange destiny I have? Millions of youngster has seen this movie in perfect circumstances without iota of any risk involved. Why am I subjected to such high risk scenarios between ‘Big Devil’ and ‘Fearsome Tiger’? ‘Big Devil’ was identified, located and well monitored till now. But advent of ‘Fearsome Tiger’ gave an unpleasant turn to whole event. How am I going to handle this?
As I thought, my eyes were watching the toilet room main entrance doors. I stood there in public toilets room among the crowded people both ‘genuine’ and ‘not genuine’. When at house, toilets provided the safe haven in case of crisis. This time public toilet of Amber talkies provided me the safe haven. Time was running fast for me. I was making my mind for any eventuality that may come on to me. As time passed and crowd slowly thinning out, I gave a sigh of relief. Thank God they did not come inside! Probably they chose to go other toilet room on far end of the gallery opposite the toilet room where I was holed in. I could have been ‘hanged’ by them in public toilet if I am caught. What a shame it would have been being caught and scolded by your father in public toilet room? I thanked God for saving my skin and self-respect.
Well, now bigger task was ahead of me besides enjoying movie. Look out for ‘Fearsome Tiger’ - where his location is. So, as the interval was over and darkness dwells in the hall, I slowly sneaked into my ‘bakda’. Zeenat was there on the scene but right now, other thoughts overwhelmed me. I knew, if my dad comes for movie, he would hole out himself in balcony. I started searching every single soul in the balcony from my seat. In darkness one usually can’t see people sitting in balcony from far distance. But one can see danger from miles even in darkness. And I too saw it. ‘Fearsome Tiger’ was well seated on 3rd row of balcony along the same corner as I was in. In fact, he was right behind my head but sufficient distance away. Once locating him, I really felt secured. After some time I started seeing Zeenat on wide screen. Though Zeenat was really looking big and beautiful, I still could not enjoy with dangers hovering all around me. And that too, two dangers simultaneously!
Well, as the movie was about to end, I knew what I have to do. I literally ran out of the theatre, out of the compound and into the main station road even before the ‘dangers’ came out of the hall. Once at far distance near the railway gate ‘Phatak’ I saw them emerging out into the road. No, they did not come out together. First, the ‘Big Devil’ and then the ‘Fearsome Tiger’. ‘Big Devil’ came out leisurely and that gave me the sense that he is not being sighted by ‘Fearsome Tiger’ or vice versa.
Once seeing them off to long distance, I started treading slowly towards the house.
Everything went on safely and I thanked my stars. Probably that was my day! My brother also escaped unharmed and hopefully he was lucky too. But my dad was not lucky. Few days after the incident, one of his colleagues visited our house and was dining with us. As we sat across the table, he suddenly complained to my dad. “Dhyaniji, aap to bade badmash hai? Akele-akele Satyam-Shivam Sundaram dekhne chale gaye? Hammey bataya bhi nahi?” There was sudden laughter among us-brothers and sisters. My elder brother laughed very loudly. I was on muted synchronized laugh. My mother turned angry and her face turns sullen.
”Kya baat kar rahe ho Mishra ji, main kahan gaya?” my father defended apologetically. To safe-guard himself he gave the widest possible smile of the century to my mom who was fuming by now. But Mishraji was bigger devil today for my dad. ”Arey kya baat kar rahe ho Dhyaniji? Khud Jhosi sahaab ne dekha aapko 3-6 waale show main, last Monday ko”. My dad surrendered. He diverted attention of our honorable guest and soon we were eating dinner. I noticed my elder brother looked nervous and worried now. I was feeling happy. After all, these two guys had ruined my happiness on all ‘paisa wasool’ Zeenat movie. Now it was time for them to pay back to me.
Later after dinner, when our guest left, we could hear mom taking dad on ‘remand’ and ‘fearsome Tiger’ defending himself. It was really soothing feeling to see ‘Tormentor’ being tormented. ‘Big Devil’ approached me and said “let me tell you one secret thing Varun”. I innocently waited for his disclosure. “I was in the same movie and same time as dad”. He gave a roar of laughter after that. He was happy on not being caught. Additionally, he was happy that dad got caught. Probably it meant to him that if he is caught, he would be ‘pardoned’ by ‘fearsome Tiger’. After all, a sinner cannot punish other sinner. I truncated his boisterous disclosure by telling him “I know you were in the same movie, same time with dad”. Now that, I thought was threatening disclosure which would keep my elder brother in check. Being elder brother, he had his clout running all over me, hovering like devil all the time. Instead, what I disclosed turned out to be pain for me. 

“How did you know it?” was his immediate question. I kept quiet. Again he asked me and I had no choice but to narrate him the full story. All his laughter vanished. But he was ‘Big Devil’ and he had bigger devilish thoughts and ideas to safeguard himself from problem. After some time he came back to me and said “listen Varun, it is only between me and you. And mind you, if you deviate from your stand, I will tell everybody that you were also there”. I listened to him. Now what? Does the matter end here for us? Can I trust my ‘Big Devil’? I will always be suspicious on my brother’s integrity on keeping his promise and he too would be equally worried on my integrity and silence. There had to be some truce to remove suspicion and negotiate peace. He made the move. “Varun, as such nobody will know that we were there. But in case, if they do, then you defend me and if you are in question, I will defend you”. That was good and honorable deal. And digestible too! I always trusted ‘you hold my ass and I hold yours’ philosophy. It had worked well for me earlier and I was comfortable with it.
And believe me, after the truce, I felt secured. Also felt that Satyam Shivam Sundaram was really good movie with everything good about Zeenat displayed in abundance and clarity. I made immediate resolution to see the movie once more.  

More By  :  Varun Dhyani

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Comments on this Blog

Comment What a narration dear. You made me laugh so much. Thoroughly enjoyed your experience.

Mohammad Aamir
18-Aug-2016 08:00 AM

Comment Enjoyed reading your misadventures!

22-Oct-2014 15:30 PM

Comment Superb narration sir. Nice way of expressing your experience. The words are so catchy n connective that anyone would feel the excitement which you had for watching "Satyam.." , rescuing from elders, and of course, for paisa wasool Zeenat...

Priyank Upadhyay
05-Nov-2012 18:06 PM

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