Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Curtain Comes Down

It’s been a while I haven’t posted any items. This is partly due to increase in work load, and more so, just being lazy to write. I hope to continue to write.

Anyway, the other day I noticed a news item on ekantipur online. The news was about the closure of the revered Ranjana Cinema Hall, and the reflections of the Hall owner, who apparently was sad to see it closed. An air of nostalgia hit my senses, I reminisced the many wonderful movies I had seen in Ranjana.

Perhaps the most unique thing about Ranjana was how every show would start with a “ding dong…” type music; Ranjana was the only theater in the valley to begin the show with this music. For me, the music was always a great way, a prelude, to the fantastic things that would follow on the silver screen. The yellow spot lights focused on the screen had a strange calming effect. The music would heighten my senses (both aural and visual) with exhilaration and anticipation. The feelings were somewhat similar to the excitement created by up and coming singers who open for great rock artists at music concerts.

Some of the memorable movies that I had seen in Ranjana were Aradhana, Amar Prem, Anand, Jaise Ko Taisa, and the horror movie “Bees Saal Pahale” (Twenty Years Ago). My friends in town had warned me not to see the movie alone, as it was supposedly very scary. I liked horror movies, so decided to see the movie with a friend who lived in Maha Bouddha (close to Ranjana). Don’t know how it happened but we ended up watching the evening (6-9) show. My friend chickened out mid-way, but I decided to continue even though I was scared. The thought of having to walk home alone after the show made me panic, but I could not resist the temptation of finishing the movie.

By the time the movie ended, I was totally scared, the climax scene shows how the ghost (shown as a complete human skeleton) of the murdered heroine kills the villain, as she comes behind him and strangles his neck. The outcome was very satisfying but by now I truly dreaded walking home all by myself. The walk home was perhaps the longest that I had ever felt – it was only 20 minutes to home – but it felt as if it was an eternity. A few people who walked out together went in different directions. I kicked up my pace and negotiated the narrow streets of Indrachowk and Thahiti carefully, avoiding eye contacts with anyone who could be around at that ungodly hour. A section of the street near Chetrapati was dark (the streetlights there never seemed to work - work of the ghosts perhaps), and many people in my neighborhood had thought that part of the street haunted. I began to sweat as I came closer to that street, and nervously looked around to see if anyone was following me. My chest started to pound, and I started running. My eyes were closed, fists stiff, palms locked in tight, sweat dripping from my forehead, adrenaline rushing into my brain. I could hear my heavy breathing. I sped as fast as I could. As I reached Saunepati, I saw the flicker of lights in houses, lights streaming from the windows onto the street. The streetlights were working, darkness slowly disappeared. I felt I had escaped from the clutches of the ghost. Phew! What an evening was that, an evening I vividly remember to this day.

Anyway, movies in Ranjana were so fun to watch, it showed some of the best movies of the year. Alas! it no longer exists. An important cultural icon has succumbed to the vagaries of modern times, biting the dust a multi-story building is planned), its memorabilia joining the relics of history. Ranjana will always have an affectionate place in my heart and will remain lodged into my memories.