The year was 1987. I was in class eighth.
One afternoon I returned home from school and quickly changed my dress and had lunch. I took Rs 2.25 from my mother and along with a friend rushed to Majum, a cinema in the neighbourhood.
We intended to see the matinee show of a movie. We reached the cinema at 2 p.m. The show was to begin at 3 p.m.
There was a big crowd at the cinema. My friend and I joined the long queue in front of the ticket window.
‘The queue is long. The show will begin after an hour. We will get the tickets,’ I told my friend.
The person standing in front of me overheard my words, turned back and said, ‘The queue is for the tickets of the evening show; not for the matinee show.’
‘What? Tickets for the evening show?’ I cried in shock. ‘What about the tickets for the matinee show?’ I asked.
‘All sold,’ said the man.
My friend and I looked at each other. We did not have any option but to return home. We were students of class eighth; could not while away hours in a cinema; our parents were strict and strongly believed in corporal punishment. Dejected, we returned home.
We again tried on the following day but failed.
I was scared on the third day to seek permission from my mother. Somehow I gathered courage and pleaded with her to allow me to try for the last time. She relented.
I sprinted to the cinema in the afternoon and found the queue for tickets on the third day also long.
I joined the queue. I was exhausted by the time I reached the ticket window. I was squashed up in the queue, my hair had got dishevelled and dress crumpled. Still, I felt like a victor when I pushed my way through the crowd around the ticket window, holding high the tickets in my fist.
I finally watched the movie. The movie was Johnny Mera Naam.
Johnny Mera Naam ran for four weeks at Majum. All the shows ran full house. Many complained that they could not get the tickets and watch the movie.
Johnny Mera Naam was released in 1970. It ran full house shows even in 1987.
The world of Hindi movies saw many changes in the 17 years from 1970 to 1987.
The period saw the emergence of Rajesh Khanna as the superstar in the late sixties with the release of Aradhana.
By mid-seventies, Rajesh Khanna’s unchallenged stardom and popularity started falling with the rise of Amitabh Bachchan.
Amitabh Bachchan was the superstar of the early eighties as well. The decade also witnessed other stars reaching the peak of their career – Jeetendra with Himmatwala and Mithun Chakraborty with Pyar Jhukta Nahin, Disco Dancer and Dance Dance.
One thing remained intact in the 17 years - Dev Anand’s charm and charisma.
Today, no actor can imagine his or her movie will run full house shows 17 years after being released. No doubt, Dev Anand was known as an evergreen actor. But was Dev Anand evergreen or his movies?
Two years later, in 1989, another movie of Dev Anand, Sachche Ka Bol Bala was released. My brother, then 19, was eager to see the movie. Not for Dev Anand but for Jackie Shroff. He had become a great fan of Jackie Shroff.
My brother did not undergo the difficulties that I faced for getting the tickets for Johnny Mera Naam. He easily got the tickets for the ‘first day, first show’ of Sachche ka Bol Bala.
My brother was dejected when he returned home after watching the movie. ‘Jackie Shroff was hardly visible in the movie; the movie revolved around Dev Anand,’ he said. Dev Anand was also the director of Sachche Ka Bol Bala.
My brother was once a fan of Dev Anand. But he liked the young Dev Anand in his movies of the sixties and seventies and not the old Dev Anand in his movies of the eighties and nineties.
Being an idler, I have ample time to watch movies on television at home. I am waiting for the time when movie channels will repeatedly on television show Johnny Mera Naam, Jewel Thief and The Guide.