I was just watching "Showbiz India" - one of the two (I think) desi programs that come free on USA cable. They played the song "dil se re" from the movie Dil Se. And I remembered: Dil Se or rather Uyire was the very first "class movie" that my computer science students batch went to during my undergrad days.
In engineering college, during the first semester, students from various disciplines were divided into batches as all of us were required to take the same core engineering courses. From the second semester onwards though, we were grouped according to the discipline we were specializing in - so all computer science majors were put in one class, ECE majors into another and so on. Somehow, I found my first semester class with its mix of majors, a lot more sociable than my later semester classes which comprised entirely of Computer Science students. Apparently other students in my class felt similarly. For in the third semester it was decided that the whole class should to the theatre to watch a movie together as a kind of bonding exercise. Preparation and name collection went on in full swing and eventually about half of our class of 81 students decided to go to watch the recently released Uyire.
Those were the days when we were still poor students and most of us had to take the bus to get to the theatre. Being the evening time of a week-day, the buses were pretty crowded. We girls (A, V, M, S, P and me) gave the miss to a couple of buses to the theatre as they were too crowded until we realized that each subsequent bus was turning out to be more crowded than the last. So we squeezed ourselves into the next bus which showed up. S and P got into the front and A, V, M and me into the back. The bus was so crowded that we could barely breath. M, being the shortest of the lot was the most discomfited as she had the highest probability of being elbowed in the face. To pass time on the almost 30-minute journey we started telling each other "kadi" jokes. I remember one of them:
A to V: Ask me if I am a rabbit.
V, obediently: Are you a rabbit?
A: Yes, I am a rabbit. Ask me if I am a deer.
V: Are you a deer?
A: I just told you I am a rabbit! How can I be a deer?
A and me: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Poor M was caught beneath a network of elbows and did not hear a word of the "joke". Now V wanted to have her share of the fun too and pulled M out from beneath her elbow-canopy and told her that she had a joke for her. The conversation went like this:
V to M: Ask me if I am a rabbit.
M, avoiding another elbow: Are you a rabbit?
V: Yes, I am a rabbit. Now ask me if I am a deer?
M: Po dee! (translated loosely as "get lost")
A and me: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Thus went by our time on the bus. When our stop came, we managed to extricate ourselves from the bus. All of us, especially M, looked like we had been caught in a hurricane. Nevertheless we proceeded to the theatre and regrouped with the rest of our class. Someone had already bought the tickets and we just had to sail into the theatre. A, S and me were sitting together. The movie started. When the name of the hero, Shah Rukh Khan, flashed on the screen, A, an ardent fan, clapped excitedly. Next, when the name of the lyricist, Vairamuthu, came up, all of us hooted - the lyricist is the father of one of my classmates. We all had great expectations from the movie as it was directed by Mani Ratnam, one of the sensible movie-makers that India has.
The songs were pretty good and entertaining. Manisha Koirala looked extremely beautiful. SRK was okay. Priety Zinta looked all fresh and bubbly (this was back when her bubbly self had not yet become annoying). And how was the movie itself? I don't know! The first 20 minutes of the movie seemed like a documentary with songs. As the movie proceeded, it showed more and more documentary-like traits and A, S and me lost interest. We were conversing in low whispers amongst ourselves and after a certain point forgot that we were in a theatre watching a movie. Suddenly we heard a collective gasp from the audience and turned towards the screen - SRK and Manisha were engulfed in a huge ball of flames! It seemed like Manisha, who plays a suicide bomber, had been prevented by SRK from making a lethal attack on a political leader. Gosh, we had just missed the climax of the movie! After that, I think the ending-credits rolled.
I remember that many of my class mates looked bleary-eyed and zoned out as they walked out of the theatre. I don't know what the majority opinion about the movie was. In any case, all my class mates looked mighty depressed (either about the ending of the movie or about having paid money to watch a documentary). However, the movie did have one powerful effect on my class: we NEVER again went out for a class movie!
p.s. I have since heard other people praise the movie. I think I should watch it again or rather watch it completely for the first time and see if it changes my current not-so-good opinion.