As a youngster had I known the historic importance of Adoni I might have never left. I mean would you have been able to part with a 500 year old history? Adoni passed from the hands of the Vijaynagara Empire to Bijapur Sultanate to Raja Anup Singh of Bikaner to the Nizam of Hyderabad to Tipu Sultan and finally into the hands of the British. Of course by the time I finished college all this was forgotten. The only thing I knew was that I belonged to a family of textile traders, probably because Adoni was a big producer of cotton and had a substantial ginning and textile industry.
I come from a large Jain family and our upbringing was quite strict. In a small town, the only form of entertainment then used to be the Sunday family movie at 6p.m.. Which would meander its way to Adoni, almost 5-6 months after it’s release, in the cities.
I simply adored films and grew up on a steady diet of Telugu Cinema with NT Rama Rao and Nageswara Rao being our larger than life heroes. Another opportunity to catch movies was when we went to the city for business cum pleasure trips. There actually used to be a to do list on such visits the shopping list, the eating list and the movie list. It was total merriment when our brothers in law came to visit. That was the rare occasion when tradition was broken. We were allowed to be taken for a movie on weekdays. It was probably the one time we felt more fondness for the in laws than our own sisters.
Movies defined our behavior while growing up. The beginning of the week was usually lax, but as the week progressed there was a marked improvement in behavior. By Friday/Saturday we were model children. Ablutions, homework, extra studies everything was completed on time, in anticipation of the treat on Sunday. Sunday was the day when correspondences were completed; typing, filing etc. was done at the store. Complete support and cooperation was provided to our father, on such days.
After the Sunday office work was completed, the customary Pooja was done and the lamp lit. Since it was a cloth store we had to ensure the lamp would extinguish before the shutters came down. We saw to it, that just the right amount of oil was added to the lamp for it to go out before ShowTime. The long wait was finally over when father reached out into his pocket and said the magic words “here’s money for the movie”
The next three hours were spent captivated and enraptured, till just after the National Anthem. As the lights came on, my heart plunged into a black hole of despair. It was back to the grind till next Sunday. The situation improved with age, in the movie department. A little more freedom was given after 10th standard, and a little more after 12th, but movies were still under the scanner and the dosage was monitored. I fondly remember a secret getaway with friends, to watch the box office hit ‘Sholay’. We went all the way to Hyderabad, in 1975, an overnight journey, just to watch the movie.
One day, I overheard our father talk about close to 50 Cinema houses in and around the city center of Bangalore. My imagination took flight and I just kept dreaming about how many films I could watch with no family to restrict, first day first shows and the sheer number of theatres within easy reach to quench my movie appetite. Can you believe it, that was my primary attraction of moving to Bangalore. Movies! Movies! Movies! Even the day I started my store in Bangalore, inauguration done, the next minute I was in a theatre watching the latest flick, Quarbani.
That was the year 1980, fast forward 40 years, internet has completely gripped the entertainment industry. Even more so in the Covid scenario, with Cinemas shut, every online channel is outdoing itself. What used to be a 5-6 month wait is now available at the click of a button. In fact, the internet has given easy access to everything and more……much much more….I am sure you’re getting a drift of what I am talking about. Screens these days are even demanded as pacifiers and soothers by babies as small one 1 year.
With so much available at the download of an app I have always wondered what challenges youngsters these days, to achieve? So yes, even thought not the most intellectually stimulating reason, but films inspired me to leave a small town and move to the big city. It gave me a reason to migrate, set up and grow my business, in a totally foreign world. The non availability of something pushed me. So what pushes youngsters today when everything is instantly in your hands? Should we worry about Generation Z and Generation Alpha? Cyber-bullying, Screen addiction, and inappropriate content is going to be a mainstay with these kids. Or should I just believe that life will go on irrespective. Just as it has done for millennia?
Opinions in this piece belong to the author: Ramesh Kumar Shah.