We had a tiny TV. It was only plugged in when we wanted to watch a video. There was no cable connection; which was perfect because we didn’t want one. Those were the days of Anne of Green Gables, Christy, Little Mermaid and Ever After. We watched those over and over again.
When we felt like watching something else, we rented a movie from the only video rental shop in the bazaar. It belonged to one of the Dhobi families. The movies were pirated and it was stressful having to look through many dodgy ones to find one decent one. There wasn’t much else to do in Mussoorie, so his video business did well.
Picture Palace in it’s early days. (Photo not mine)
Oh, there was Picture Palace, the old movie theatre at the bottom of Malenga Hill in Kulri Bazaar. Tony and I once went on a date to see Jurassic Park in Hindi. There were no subtitles but it was pretty self-explanatory. The theatre was as run down inside as it was on the outside. There were a few people scattered here and there, and even with the lights on, it was dark. We sat in the back row, ready for a quick get away. The ceiling looked precarious. It was monsoon and there was water dripping onto the seats in different places. We agreed to open our umbrella if the need arose. Our surroundings added to the suspense of the runaway dinosaur in the lab.
The Video Rentals were interesting. Most of them were filmed from the back row of a movie house. The goal of the pirates was to get a copy of the movie, without being caught, come hell or high water. It didn’t matter that the video camera was held still or straight. It didn’t matter that the back of movie watchers heads took up half of the frame. It didn’t matter either that people could be seen standing up, stretching and getting up to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t even an issue that the movie was longer than the DVD it was recorded on.
People kept asking us if we had seen The Titanic. When it finally came to “Pappu’s Video Rental” we snatched it up. We put the kids to bed and pulled our double couch close to the small TV screen. We were glued. Jack and Rose were floating around on their plank of wood. Lifeboats kept missing them. Jack was freezing. Rose kept calling, “Jack, Jack.” Jack was holding on for his life.
Suddenly everything went digital and the DVD popped out. We sucked in our dribble and stared at the screen in disbelief. We looked at each other and said, “What?!!” We watched the end years later. Darn pirates.