Stressed in Saket

Did you know that you can get Rs.50 cinema tickets at the PVR cinema in Saket? Of all places! As if this wasn’t enough of a pull, I recently found out that it was India’s fist multiplex, making it practically an Indian cinematic monument. Admittedly you have to get yourself there by 9am on a weekday to enjoy such cheap rates, but for college students such as myself it’s too good a bargain to miss.

So last Thursday found four of us congregating somewhat sleepily at Saket metro station, ready to catch the morning show of Mausam before heading to our afternoon Hindi classes. Here, I guess, the problems began. As Susanna has already pointed out, my handbag is a bit of a Mary Poppins number – massive and containing just about anything you could wish for. When going for classes I also feel the need to also carry along my trusty Tara Books bag for life so that I can lug along my (massive) Hindi dictionary, as well as several notebooks and folders.

I guess I really did have more the security staff at Saket PVR would have wished for. When we made our way to the front of the security queue, the bag for life came in for some scrutiny – “only lady’s handbags allowed, madam” (except actually the terrifying woman who delivered this didn’t actually say madam, she was far too busy doing her best fascist impression). My poor bag for life wasn’t the only vessel to fall short of the mark – ‘lady’s handbag’ is apparently defined by strap length and gender. You’re a woman carrying a bag larger than your body but carried under one shoulder? Fine! A girl carrying a small bag that straps across your body, falling beneath your waist? Forget it. And the poor guy trying to argue the case for his man bag? Not a chance.

Thankfully, our trusty friend Ezgi also carries around a beast of a handbag, so we scuttled around the corner and hurridly re-grouped, splitting the contents of my extra bag between the three of us. Job done!

Not so fast. Our bags reached the search point, and the offending bag for life was pulled out of the depths of my handbag – along with a small carrier bag containing cosmetics – and brandished before me. “No extra bags, madam” By this point we’re all starting to look at our watches, and taking deep breaths. No polybags allowed in handbags? I was still attempting to plead my case in broken Hindi while Susanna’s bag was being searched, resulting in my netbook being triumphantly laid on the table. “No laptops allowed.”

I’m all for security (who wouldn’t be in light of recent events?) but why not ‘no bags’, and not just certain bags? Why no polythene bags within a handbag? Why were we allowed two blackberry phones (with pretty good recording devices on them) but not the netbook? Why not just have lockers outside and be done with it?  Yes, at this point I was starting to do a very dangerous thing: I was starting to ask why. Has India taught me nothing? Never ask why.

Luckily, Susanna had her wits about her, and was gently explaining to the neighbouring security guard that no we didn’t have a driver we could leave our things with, and didn’t live close enough to go back home. Was there something that could be done? Apparently not. Remaining late comers thronged past us, until we were the only people left in the entrance hall. I guess we were a sorry sight, as finally, the manager took pity on us, ushered me into a back room & put my offending items into a corner. Success! We raced upstairs, making it into the showing twenty minutes or so into the film. Going by the review of Mausam by Trisha Gupta that I’d read in the Sunday Guardian this was a bit tragic – apparently the first half an hour was the only bit worth seeing.

And after all that, what did we think of the film? Susanna has already written about the interesting depiction of 21st century Scotland (horse-drawn cart, anyone?) but to be honest, I always enjoy a bit of Shahid Kapoor, even if it does involve suspending disbelief, and buying into his ability to miraculously regain the ability to use his left arm just in time to one-handedly catch a falling toddler. Yes, the film was funny in all the wrong places (reducing the Ahmedabad riots to a cliché so ridiculous that it induced widespread laughter in the cinema hall was a particular low) but at the end of the day, we emerged into the midday sunlight having been entertained, and with much to discuss. And for Rs.50, what more can you ask for?