A few years back we went to Satyam theatre. It was a Saturday evening. We wanted to see Ramana, a Tamil movie. We could not get the tickets. Also tickets for almost all the other shows had been sold out. Only ‘Die another day’ was available.
English movie. I hesitated. I do not understand the accent of the English actors nor do my family.
“It’s a James Bond movie….full of action….no problem, if you don’t understand their English….” The guy at the counter was selling multi-million dollar James Bond movie to me!
Having come all the way to the theatre, we did not want to go back home. We bought the tickets.
Half an hour into the movie, Eshwar my younger son asked the most embarrassing question. “Appa…who is the goodie? And who is the baddie in the movie?”
That was the question I was struggling to find answer for. There was an English guy. There were a couple of Koren guys. I decided that since it was an English movie, the white must be the hero, the goodie. But then he was captured and tortured. ‘No, he cannot be the goodie.’
How about their looks? Conventional wisdom was that goodie generally looked smart and baddie looked horrible. But everyone looked smart in the movie.
Tamil movies in the olden days made this task easier. The baddie (Manohar, Nambiar, etc) will be wearing a lungi, will sport a thick moustache, a black mole on the cheek, unkempt curly hair. In the later day movies, though the baddies started looking smarter, there were some actors earmarked for villain roles- Satyaraj, Prakash Raj. Still later when villains like Satyaraj graduated to goodie roles and proved a baddie in the box office, it became difficult to identify goodies and baddies in Tamil movies unless one knew the language.
Sameer Kakkar, my Punjabi friend gave me an easy solution when I started watching Hindi movies. “The oldest guy will be the goodie, the hero…..say Sharukh Khan, Aamir Khan…”
Good formula. When I applied the formula to Tamil movies, it worked very well. “Kamal Hassan…Rajinikanth….Vijaykanth….”
I did not have any such formula for English movies. So I smartly avoided the problem and said to my son “Shshsh….you should not talk in the movie hall….will disturb others….”
After a few minutes, when everyone in the theatre laughed for a scene, Krishna, my elder son asked why they were laughing. Someone must have said something humorous! I changed seats with my wife to avoid questions from Krishna!
My sons regarded me as an ‘all knower’. I did not want to lose the image.
I started watching English movies with English subtitles- in HBO, Sony Pix, Star Movies. I motivated myself that if I watched more and more movies with subtitles, I would, over a period of time, start understanding English movies without subtitles.
But the subtitles moved very fast. Many times while reading the subtitle, I would miss the action on the screen. My wife would bring coffee. But I could not take, for I would lose the subtitle while sipping the coffee. After watching a movie, I would feel tired as if I had given a tough mathematics exam.
I would have seen 20-30 films like this, but I was nowhere close to understanding a movie without the help of subtitles.
Then I decided to watch English movies and later corroborate the same by watching the Tamil version of the movie. But when I heard Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “Enna machi….”, “Dei….mokkai podathe..”, I decided to drop the idea.
By this time my sons had understood that I was no longer the ‘all knower’. They sympathized with me. Krishna suggested that many of the English movies are made from English novels. So if read the novel first, it would be easier for me to understand the movie later. He suggested ‘The Da vinci Code’ for me. It took me one month to read and understand the book. When I watched the movie, I understood the same. But it was like preparing for CA final examination- one month preparation for one movie! I could not afford that.
Watching English movies…..lag ta hi, yeh mera bas ki baatnahi hai!
PS: Recently I read a post by Deepak Karthik on the pursuitof Happyness. He quotes dialogues from the movie! Boss, tell me the secret!