Oh when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah, I’d always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life
Well yes Bryan Adams’s Summer of 69 is one of my all time favorites and it probably describes the essence of this write-up the best. No I’m not going to talk about my experiences in the Summer of ’69, heck I wasn’t even born then. But yes then whatever I probably will be writing here is maybe what I’ve experienced and felt while I was growing up and in that way it’s quite similar to what Bryan Adams felt too. The difference being that I’m not confining myself to just one year- but more or less a whole period of growing up.
Born in the late 70’s in a typical middle class family I was witness to the virtual flurry of events that were happening in the country in those days. I still remember that in my first few years of existence it was the large B&W T.V sets which stood for entertainment in our homes those days along with the evergreen transistor/radio of course. I also remember the entry of color T.V broadcast with the ’82 Asian Games that were staged in Delhi. I must have virtually been a toddler when my first vivid experience of identifying a movie star was captured carefully in my memory. The actor was none other than Amitabh Bachchan.
So it was basically the 80’s and the 90’s which constituted my days of growing up on all counts. Life in the 80’s especially was a lot simpler than it is now. I’m sure there would be others who would describe the 70’s, 60’s or 50’s in the same way depending on when they grew up. In my case most of my early memories are from the 80’s. I remember the monthly outings that we used to undertake as a family. Watching 1-2 movies in a month was a definite routine. If it was a Hindi or a regional movie it would be a complete family outing and if it was an English movie it would be mostly just me & my father.
One of the insights that my father realized early on was that his eldest son (who else but me) was fast becoming a ‘dangerous’ filmy. Sample this- typically in those days Chitrahaar on good old D.D used to be a big draw and something that everyone looked forward to. Typically the new songs being shown in it would first feature a poster of the movie followed by the song itself. Since watching T.V in those days was a community phenomenon , there would always be people at home while watching Chitrahaar or we would be at someone else’s house. And typically when the poster of a movie say ‘Pyar Jhukta Nahin’ would be shown, I would go off rattling the names of the cast and crew like Mithun Chakravorty,Padmini Kolhapure,Danny Denzongpa,Laxmikant-Pyarelal etc. My dad would certainly be furious at me and hence in order to ‘control the flow’ of information on movies that I was exposed to, film magazines were virtually banned at home.
So my reading of Filmfare and other such magazines would typically be in a saloon or in some other friend’s home. That was also the time when I began to take an active interest in quizzing and so my thirst for filmy knowledge kept increasing even more. Oh! and while I would watch movies of all languages in all spots on D.D (sat eve, sun eve, sun afternoon-regional language, fri late nights, tue afternoons etc and many more ) the other habit that I was accustomed to was listening to songs on radio especially on Vividh Bharati. Ameen Sayani’s Binaca/Cibaca Geetmala was my favorite and it certainly was the precursor to all the countdown shows which became popular on T.V much later.
Couple of other programs on radio which I was particularly fond of were Chhayageet which played the old songs especially at night and ‘Chitralok’ which played the musical trailers of the current releases and the upcoming releases. Of course those were the days when there used to be no internet, no mobile phones and no other gimmicks and gadgets that we have today. So even as a kid I became addicted to the ‘Friday Phenomena’ ( check it out here- http://passionforcinema.com/the-friday-phenomena/) and so scanning the newspaper on Friday’s for knowing the latest releases was a big activity for me and would give me immense pleasure.
When I was finally allowed to watch movies with my friends on the rare occasions, life had become all the more colorful as I did not have to depend upon my parents alone for now having to watch a movie. King Kong Lives and Ram Lakhan were among the early movies that I remember having watched with my friends. And yes my father was strictly against going to watch a movie more than once in a theatre and so I had to come up with inventive ways every time I wanted to watch a movie again. The one thing I was very clear about is that I would never hide the fact to my parents that I saw a movie, of course but the name would often get changed at times So when I wanted to watch Hum again, I had to tell my folks that I was watching Honey I shrunk the kids and so on & so forth.
Of course sports especially cricket, soccer and tennis was something that I really had embraced and thanks to D.D, I would often be glued to the World Cup Soccer matches, the umpteen test & one day cricket matches and of course the Tennis Grand Slam tournaments. The center posters of Sportstar used to adorn the walls of my room and collecting them was a big passion as much as other hobbies that I was into like philately and numismatics.
As the 80’s gave way to the 90’s there was a new avenue of entertainment that opened up, namely satellite television. Unfortunately when the satellite revolution happened I had just cleared my class X board exams and moved to the Higher Secondary stream so for those 2 years, there was not much of T.V that I had time for. Not that I had any complaints, for by then I was completely into a lot of stuff both academic and non academic. While quizzing and other inter school events took care off attendance, movies and books still managed to feature in my schedule. Thankfully none of these really affected my studies and so I really did not have to get into any major struggle.
Well when I’m talking about my teenage days in school, can falling in love or teenage crushes be left out? I had my share too, many girls that I liked, many that liked me and some being quite mutual. But remember those days one never really knew how to be fashionable like in today’s terms? and so there was a lot of ‘ankhon hi ankhon mein ishara ho gaya, baite baite jeene ka sahara ho gaya’. That I was a decent singer with a wide repertoire of songs helped and often I would sing in the earshot of the girl I liked, songs of her choice. In true Bollywood style I faced a funny situation once.There was a girl in my class who used to stay in the same street as that of another friend of mine. So I would very often hang around her house in the pretext of meeting my friend when one day I was literally surrounded by most of the nukkad ke romeo’s who warned me to stay away from her. Thankfully in filmy style she watched it all and the next day was full of sympathy for me.
Another interesting event happened like this – the occasion was some function in school (probably my farewell party in school).All of a sudden I decided that I would go on stage & sing, the intention being only to impress a particular girl. While the plan was to sing some soft romantic number, tragedy struck when I opened my mouth and realized that a lot of screaming and shouting that day had given me a sore throat. So while I debated on apologizing and leaving the stage, my brain overworked & I surprised myself by singing ‘angna mein baba’ in ‘rock’ style taking everyone by shock. But the girl was impressed and she was the first to say that she liked my experiment.
So thus my school days were spent often under the repeated shelters of movies, books and music. The T.V and the radio were literally like members of my family and something indispensable. When I compare the current scenario with my school days, I feel a lot of satisfaction in what I underwent. Yes today’s kids have a lot of things at their disposal be it DTH, the internet, multiplexes and malls, mobile phones, play stations etc, but where is the innocence of the yesteryears? How many children nowadays actually read? How many children actually enjoy the outdoors? How many of them especially in the metros and other bigger cities have been exposed to the single screen theatres and cineplexes? I can just go on & on, for ‘those were certainly the best days of my life’.