17 July 2013


India is a hard place to travel. The sun and humidity are brutal and it's been taking it's toll on us. That being said, we decided today would be a good day to experience a lighter side of life - the mall and the movies.

We went to a nearby mall that had a movie theater. PDR Mall, like many other malls in India has a security check before you enter. We walked through a metal detector, which I do not believe was actually on, and then they searched our bags. The mall was dead. Those of you from San Antonio may recall how Central Park Mall was in the mid-90s. This was even more so empty and bare. The mall was three stories. There were exactly two shops in the mall.
One was a K-Mart like store that sold a bit of everything. It was chaotic and dusty like a K-Mart and the sales clerks were pushy. The other store was a womens "designer" clothes shop. There was also a food court. The movie theater took up the entire top level. Everything else was empty.
To kill time, we went to the food court and ate a snack. The food court was comfortable and air conditioned and mostly clean. Then it was time for the movie. We went through another security check to enter the theater.
Our movie was a film called: Lootera. It was a typical Bollywood film set in the 1950s. The entire film was in Hindi without subtitles. Thus my imagination ran wild about what could be being said.
Actual script: Who knows?

Laura script:
him - Write this grocery list for me! Oranges, Milk and 2 boxes of Cheerios.
her - Cheerios! I don't eat Cheerios, I only eat Rice Crispies.
him - Okay fine, then get Rice Crispies. Just don't forget the chocolate bars.
her - I heard they made a new chocolate and everyone died from it.
him - Oh no! Don't get that brand!
her - But you stole from my Dad and deserve to die!
(And so it went in my mind)

But culturally it was just an experience being in the theater. When you buy your tickets, the price varies depending on where you want to sit. The front third is the cheapest, the middle is next and back of the theater "Diamond class" was the most expensive. These tickets cost 200 Rupees. A little over three dollars. Printed on your ticket is your assigned seat. You show your ticket to the usher who points you in the direction of your seat. Like the movies at the US, snacks are available for purchase. They included MoMos, Kulfi and Sweet Corn. We bought some water.
The film began with a PSA about smoking. This showed black tar being wrung from lungs, cancer patients and facts about smoking. There was also a disclaimer that the film does not support smoking as a habit. Then during the film, anytime a character smoked, a message came onscreen: "Smoking is injurious to your health." There were no previews, the film simply began.
During the film, the theater was never quiet. Cell phones rang, people answered and held conversations on them all while at the cinema. Plus food was being ordered and delivered all around us. The film was 3 hours long.
Half way through the film we had a 10 minute intermission. After the intermission we saw a few commercials - one for a luxury real estate development, and the same PSA about smoking. Then the film started up again.
Although I haven't a clue exactly what was being said in the film - one could follow the story line: A rich girl accidentally runs a motorcyclist off the road. He comes back and takes advantage of her family, stealing a golden statue from them. They also fall in love. The laws of the land change and the father is stripped of his wealth by the government. The man from the motorcycle escapes and the girl falls into a deep depression. [Intermission] The father has passed away and the girl has moved to a smaller house in the woods on a mountain. It's winter and she is sick, she has Tuberculosis. The motorcyclist come back and is chased by the police. She sees him and alerts the police. Then he comes back to her and nurses her to health. She hides him from the police. Then he goes to turn himself in and is shot to death. It ends with her looking hopeful as she realizes what he has done for her.
An interesting film to say the least - I just wish I could have understood it! It was a fun Bollywood experience.

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Location:Varanasi, India

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