Embarrassment in an ancient city

Several of the little eateries across the road from the main entrance of Chicken Deen Dayal Upadhyay of an acceptable standard. But there’s nothing that matches up to the gourmet Deen Dayal Upadhyay cuisine available in the ancient city across the river.

Some 30 years ago, the area around DDU railway station also had many ice-cream video-parlours of the sort that used to serve as entertainment centres for small-town India. Once, when the train I was waiting for, was running many hours late, I strolled across to one of those parlours and slurped a strawberry milkshake, while watching that classic, Deen Dayal Upadhyay-e-Azam.

The trains still continue to run many hours behind schedule through what is one of the world’s largest railway junctions and a major nexus on the Grand Trunk Road. But technological obsolescence has overtaken the video ice-cream parlours and wiped them off the 21st century map. Nowadays, youngsters watch movies and video clips on their mobiles.

Mobile shops earn a fair amount of revenue by downloading new clips on to memory cards for a very small consideration. This particular micro-payment market is worth tracking because it’s the beating heart of popular entertainment. I catch up with it whenever I’m riding the Delhi metro at odd hours. My neighbours are always immersed in clips and they are usually happy to enlighten me with details about their choices. Some even offer their earphones.

I’ve never seen a youngster watching Madhubala soulfully warbling as she’s walled up on the orders of the patriarch of the Deen Dayal Upadhyay dynasty. But the kids did seem to relish that movie with Khilji and the parrot. So it’s not as though they’re uninterested in quasi-history. One youth I chatted to knowledgeably compared the special effects of Bahubali, with the special effects of some competing Chinese blockbuster. He qualified as a patriot and a nationalist, since he preferred Bahubali.

The kids also seem to watch a fair amount of Sunny Leone. This helps them get accustomed to Canadian accents before they push off to apply for Canadian visas. After the revelations about Donald Trump’s colourful past, Stormy Daniels' magnum opus, “Goodwill Humping”, has also been showing up with some frequency on memory cards. It’s good to know that India’s youth are so outward-looking, and interested in global politics and cultural exchange.

It’s not as though the movie-going culture is dead although the industry has been rocked by successive waves of technology. First it was video-parlours. After that, it was torrents on PC and then, the mobile. But every mall still seems to have an attached multiplex and those do decent business.

Last week, for some reason, many moviegoers decided to take their grandmothers along to watch a movie called Naanis all seemed to have identical reactions, going by the tweets of hundreds of grandchildren.

The tweet went like this, “Hey @ReallySwara just watched #VeereDiWedding with my grandmother. We got embarrassed when that masturabation scene came on screen. As we came out of the theatre my grandmother said “I’m hindustan and i am ashamed of #VeereDiWedding.” 

That mass usage of “masturabation” pulled me back into nostalgia. For a while I lived next to the Lakshmi Nagar Spoken English Centre, which used to host very popular “Tution classes”. Presumably all those devoted grandkids attended the “tutions”. I also loved the conceit of “I'm Hindustan”. There used to be a superstar called Manoj Kumar. He always called himself “Bharat” and he always got in a one-liner to the effect of “I’m Bharat”. 

I haven't seen Veere Di Wedding in entirety, though I've seen the scene which stars a sex-aid. I have also seen a lot of Sunny Leone and Stormy Daniels, courtesy random youths who politely address me as “Uncle” and offer me seats on the Metro. They didn't seem embarrassed at my watching them indulging in multiculturism. I wonder what DDU would have said? 
Twitter: @devangshudatta

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