Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yeh mera bas ki baat nahi hi!


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!

28 comments:

  1. Valady Sir, incidentally yeah mere bhi bas ki baath nahi hei. Though I manage to understand it is not my interest many times.

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    1. Good, I have at least someone in my company. You are better of because you manage to understand.

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  2. LOL SIR :P
    Thanks for quoting me :)Secret lam NAHI sir..
    when i tried watching without subtitles, similar position like you " i felt like, who is the hero ? why he running behind him ? what language he is speaking".

    Then i started using HEADPHONES sir, Headphones works a lot sir :)
    I have watched few movies in local languages, whatever movie they dub, be it crime,horror or war, we all will end up in laughing :)

    Wonderful post, i enjoyed every line of it sir...
    Deepak

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    1. Let me try using headphone. But the problem has something to do with my English knowledge as well. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  3. ha ha ha. I like the way you tried classifying the baddies and the goodies. :) Practice makes perfect. See as many movies as possible and eventually you will figure out the accent. ;)

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    1. Glad you liked the post. I had stopped seeing English movies a year back. Will give it a try now.

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  4. I can relate. I can't understand their accent too. I wanted to watch a lot of English movies just for the sake of picking up their accent but failed miserably because in general I am not interested in movies - be it English, Tamil or Hindi. So, I don't want even the one or two movies that I watch once in a year to be a learning session instead of an entertaining experience. :)

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    1. I think we come from more or less the same background. We can relate on many things.

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    2. True, sir. I also thought so. :)

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  5. hmm.. so much of trouble for a movie..! :D hilarious post.. and I can relate to it some how!

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    1. Not just for a movie. I had to prove to my sons that I was indeed an "all knower"

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  6. First of all, let me tell you that your English has improved dramatically in the interim or you are putting us on. Or of course you are using the services of a translator for your posts :)

    Seriously though, my husband who was educated in Hindi medium schools picked up written and a smattering of spoken English during the holidays before admission to Engg, college by devouring Chase, Christie and Perry Mason and of course watching English movies. And there were no subtitles in the 60s! So what if he uses the slang more than the real language :)

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    1. I was educated in Tamil medium. I had also tried Chase/Perry Mason/ Christie formula. It helped. But the problem I still have is understanding their accent. I face this problem even today when I meet whites for business purposes.

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  7. LOL, sir. I think you are being very humble... :D

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    1. Not exactly. But it feels good that you have a high image of me.

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  8. Hariharanji, I can empathize with you!Even I had problems understanding the accent. But the trick is to never give up. Soon, you'll master it... At least, it worked in my case.

    PS: Thanks for dropping in at Random Thoughts.

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    1. I stopped watching English movies out of frustration a year back. Let me try again.

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  9. Sir this was absolutely hilarious and you changed seats to 'protect' your image!! hahha

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    1. Absolutely. My sons, who have now graduated to watching English movies, make fun of me even today on this issue.

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  10. Initially, it was difficult for me to get a grasp of the accent, but it was alright after few movies :)

    This was a rather humorous post :)

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    1. Glad you liked it. While you persisted and won, I left half way through accepting defeat.

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  11. Loved the post Sir, I can empathize with your situation. :)

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    1. Thanks Akshay. My sons also pity me in this regard!

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  12. hahahaha changing seats was a good strategy :D :D :D

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    1. It worked at that time. My sons understood this and they make fun of me till date.

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  13. LOL. This was a hilarious post Sir. I still have problem with the accent. But, that does not shy me away from watching English movies. There are some real good ones.

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