Spoilers Ahead by Rajeev Masand: Once Again, With Feeling

At the beginning of Quentin Tarantino’s new book cinema speculation, the auteur behind some of the biggest movies in contemporary Hollywood, flashes back to the year 1970, when, at the age of seven, he accompanied his mother and stepfather to see what he remembers as his first adult film. The film itself is not important (it was by John G Avildsen Joseph). What is worth noting is the clarity of Tarantino’s memory. He writes about the film in some detail, deconstructs specific scenes (he presumably saw it more than once), and notes that it must have been an undeniable influence on Taxi driver. Crucially though, she remembers exactly how she made him feel.

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that the best movie reviews aren’t the ones that analyze a movie’s merits and weaknesses, but the ones that offer insight into how it made the writer feel. When I look back at some of my favorite movies, I realize that I can’t always remember them backwards, like many of my friends. I’m not one of those who can recite a dialogue on cue. But ask me where I saw the movie, with whom, and why it stuck with me, and it all comes back in a flash.

delicious delight

I don’t remember how old I was when my mother took me to see jaws 3. The film was released in 1983, but it will most likely be released in India a year or two later. By all accounts, I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old when I saw the film at the New Excelsior Cinema in Mumbai. I have asked my mother several times over the years why she thought it was okay to take a child to see a movie about a killer shark on the prowl, or how they let me be in that movie. She thinks that she probably took me because it was in 3D, and at the time only kids movies like Chhota Chetan (the very popular dubbed version of the Tamil film My dear Kuttichathan) published in 3D. Clearly, movie entry rules were lax back then as well.

What I remember from watching that movie was the sheer thrill of putting on those flimsy 3D glasses (one lens made of red cellophane, the other of blue) and shivering in my tiny shoes whenever the ominous background score suggested that the man …dining room was lurking nearby. It’s hard to forget how I, and most everyone else in the theater, jumped in our seats when a severed human head floated into the eye line of tourists visiting the underwater theme park where the film was set. I also remember how that jump scare was immediately followed by laughter from everyone, as if to cover up our collective moment of weakness and appear braver than we were.

Both Udaan (above) and Brokeback Mountain are films that made audiences feel genuine and lasting emotion.
Both Udaan (above) and Brokeback Mountain are films that made audiences feel genuine and lasting emotion.

3-D jaws it wasn’t a very good movie, as I learned when I reviewed it in my teens. But for a seven-year-old boy who was about to understand the power of movies, it was quite an experience. It led me to go back and discover the original. jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg, which to this day remains one of the most powerful films of my life. It led to my lifelong fascination with sharks; so much so that I finally plucked up the courage to dive with sharks on a trip to Cancun a few years ago.

primal instinct

During the summer holidays of 1985, at the Strand Cinema, which was across the street from my grandparents’ house in Colaba, my cousins ​​and I were escorted by a domestic helper to see a new Hindi children’s film that had just been released. More than the emotion of seeing the movie, it was the outing with the cousins ​​that he was looking forward to. And though my recollection of the movie itself is sketchy, I know how that afternoon made us yearn for an adventure of our own.

The movie was Aaj Ke Sholeya goonies-Satisfies-famous five a kind of exciting caper that involved a group of kids trusting their intelligence as they navigated through thick forests and dark caves in search of something I don’t remember. Sadly, the internet doesn’t shed much on this movie (it’s also been impossible to find on VHS, DVD, or torrent), and a basic synopsis only reveals that the boys were on a mission to find and rescue two of their friends who had been kidnapped. For the rest of summer vacation, the cousins ​​spent a lot of time breaking into a nearby abandoned junkyard, seeking thrills, pretending to be invincible and daring, even coming up with an anthem that we would hum together while slaying imaginary beasts.

The movies that stay with us the longest tend to be the ones that make us feel something: joy, anger, shame, a sense of loss, anything really. Watching Vikramaditya Motwane Udan for the first time is an emotion that is impossible to get rid of. The gut punch of that last scene in Secret in the mountainwhen you discover the shirt folded inside the shirt, it’s still fresh even though it’s been years since I saw that movie.

Even when the memories fade, you’ll still be able to conjure up that primal feeling of what that movie did to you.

Formerly a film journalist, Rajeev Masand currently runs a talent management agency in mumbai

From HT Brunch, November 26, 2022

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