Rats, sleaze and a XXXL aunty. What a way to spend my Friday afternoon!
My world and that of D-Grade cinema would only cross paths when I drove by steamy hoardings of strangely titled films or stared at their posters on Paan stained walls while urinating.
I always wondered who the fuck watches “Garam Jawani” or “Jaldi Karo, Koi Dekh Lega” ?
Intrigued, I decided to see for myself. I entered a dilapidated theatre in the back alleys of Bandra Station. Alone and slightly scared, I bought a Rs 60/- ticket for a balcony seat. The Bhojpuri movie ‘Ek Aur Zalim Hathiyar’ was already underway.
The theatre was hot, humid and smelled like old clothes stained with even older semen. I needed my phone flash to find a broken wooden seat and brushed against two men who were clearly in the middle of some serious self pleasure, while watching a large Auntie in a shower scene, like a hippo on heat.
A theatre full of testosterone and rodents, without any air conditioning, reclining seats and flavoured popcorn was not my ideal movie-watching environment. Especially because my neighbour kept fondling himself with such violent dedication.
The hot Auntie on screen wasn’t doing it for me either. In fact she was positively scary: Her armpits had more foliage than a small rainforest and the excessive choli exposure was giving me vertigo. The steamier the scene the scarier it got. This lady and her choli were on a mission to destroy all my adolescent dreams about sex and seduction. This was assault and battery of the senses.
The movie itself was jumping scenes at an alarming rate – the plot didn’t seem to matter much. The story I think was about a dude who had discovered a smart way to make money by delivering packages to scantily clad aunties. They never paid him so I wasn’t sure where the business opportunity was. I guess the experience made him richer.
My time in the cinema was becoming increasingly hellish. Call me spoilt, but I needed to get out fast. Between the semen stench, the rats, the attack of the monster choli and my masturbating neighbour I had taken as much local sleaze as a spoilt Bombay kid could. I finally ran out through the exit, breathless and sweating – like the rest of the men there – only to trip over a man sleeping on another sleazy film poster.
Since I did not understand much of this Bhojpuri epic anyway I decided to explore the theatre. With so much media coverage about morality and censorship these cinema halls seemed to be a real anomaly.
Suddenly a man in his mid fifties demanded that I visit the office. He insisted that I show him what I had on my camera. They were worried that I was a video pirate stealing their hot auntie footage. My ticket was torn in half and I was politely asked to leave. This was the best thing to happen to me all day. I crossed a small haphazard queue of drunken leery men, waiting to get in as badly as I had waited to get out. Auntie was obviously quite a hit - just not my kind of miss. But I did come away with the answer to one of India’s most pertinent questions: 'Choli ke peeche kya hai?'
And I realized that the Coming Soon sign was more for the audience than the film.
Words and Photography: Karan Khosla