Sunday, April 26, 2009

Of videos and video stores

Between the ages of 8-11, I spent three years in Calcutta when my banker dad was posted there. Those were the good old days when DD was the only channel that came on TV. In Calcutta, most of the programs on DD were broadcast in Bengali.

My family's knowledge of Bengali extended to saying "I don't know Bengali" in Bengali. Thus, we used to wait with great eagerness for the very few Hindi and English programs which were broadcast: Ramayana (later Mahabharata), World this Week, Giant Robot (o boy, my sis and I used to *love* this show in spite of being able to predict exactly how the story would go - alien monster attacks city, baffled police unable to contain it, police let loose Giant Robot, Giant Robot vanquishes monster, everyone cheers- only the appearance of the monster changed from week to week), He-man cartoons etc. etc.

But this still precluded watching any show in Tamil but for the odd Tamil song or two which used to pop up in the national integration song show (forgot the name) and the odd Tamil movie (usually from the period immediately after the silent movie era) which showed up once in a blue moon as the DD Sunday movie.

Enter the VCR. In Calcutta we stayed in the Lake Market area. This area had quite a sizable Tamilian population and hence it was fairly easy to locate Tamil magazines, vegetables, you name it. The area also had a video store which rented out the latest Tamil movies. I even remember the name of the store - Balaji Videos. Most weekends, we rented Tamil movies/ song shows/ dramas etc. to watch during the time we were at home.

We also rented Hindi and English movies to watch. We watched almost all the Shammi Kapoor movies as everyone in my family liked him. We also watched a lot of old English movies as my dad was fond of them and both dad and mom has fond memories of watching them as newly weds. Oftentimes, Dad would remember the name of a good English movie and it would be on the rental list for the next weekend.

Sometimes, we managed to exhaust our weekend supply of movies rather fast. Then, my sister and I would make the 15 minute trip (by walk) to the video store to pick up some movie. Usually other than our desire to watch a movie trumping our desire to crib about the walk, these trips passed off uneventfully.

Once, my dad told the name of a movie about a shipwreck which had a rather unique name. Sis and I carefully memorized it and set off. On the way we got engrossed in other conversation and when we reached the store and went up to the counter to request the movie, we realized that neither of us could recall the movie's name other than the fact that it started with a P. Uh-oh, now what!

So we both racked our brains and finally concluded that the movie we were looking for was "Pobsbion Journey". Now this did sound like a funny name for a movie but then, hey, we did remember it was a weird name. So we both confidentally strode up to the counter and asked for "Pobsbion Journey". The video store guy had never heard of such a movie and asked us if that was indeed the movie name. Not the ones to lose face, we both said, "Yes, it is!" Seeing that the conversation was going nowhere, we asked if we could use the store phone to call our dad to confirm the movie name.

Mercifully, the store guy said okay. We called up home and asked my surprised dad, "What movie did you say you wanted, daddy?"

Dad said, "Poseidon Adventure*. Why, did you forget?"

"Oh no, no, just confirming".

With that we shamefacedly went back to the video store guy and asked for the movie "Poseidon Adventure", which turned out to be very readily available!

You would think this incident would have made us more careful in the future about writing down the movie name before heading out. No way! We were way too smart for that. That's how I once wound up asking for the movie "Kelavan" (meaning old man in Tamil) when my dad had asked for the Hindi movie "Caravan". Sigh, I never learn, do I?

There are a few other movie-name mistakes too, but I think this will do now!

* Obviously, not the 2006 version of the movie.


vishesh said...

lol :P

Saumya said...

Kelavan for Caravan :)

The VCR was a god-send for the cold, rainy afternoons for sure.

kurrodu said...

Giant robot. Ah! my favourite.. i think they used to show it on thurdays... hilarious post...

bangalore_engineer said...

The national integration show was "Chitramala". We used to wait for that 1-2 old b/w tamil song as well !

Archana said...

Vishesh - :-)!

Saumya - I know! Even on super hot summer afternoons :-)!

Kurrodu - aii, another giant robot fan!

Bangalore_engineer - ah, that was the name! Welcome aboard!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious post but very reminiscent of the times. I am reminded of waiting for fridays to watch Balsaravin Oliyum Oliyum. The sunday morning Rangoli and Wednesday chitrahaars...golden...

kaushik said...

Ah! I have fond memories of Balaji Video kadai too, and some of the other tamilian shops in the lake market area, especially the thatha who used to sell coffee podi and ananda vikatan...

Balaji Video was an integral part of our weekends until the cable came with Sun TV