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Watching Hindi films: A personal revolt!

By Chitra Ahanthem
Ah well! Imphal now has a cinema theatre showing the latest English films after a more than decade long break. But the news does nothing for me bent on my own personal revolt of watching Hindi films. Heck, it was that ban way back in 2000 that made me so stark raving mad, I wrote a letter to the editor (IFP) dripping with sarcasm (NOT at my editor but to the folks who live under the ground…er!) and pointing out Hindi film bans should consider the tastes of people like me who love the clichéd “Bolywood jhatkas and matkas”. That letter was carried in IFP and I went on to write more and more till Editor called me in to write every Sunday. Unfortunately, the ban on Hindi films and TV channels stayed on and led to many other after effects including the theatres becoming departmental stores, educational institutions on one hand and depriving many women who earlier sold cinema ticket “in black” from earning a living. For me, the ban did not just make me write that letter but triggered an almost obsessive compulsion for Hindi films. I had to watch them because they were banned. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t given to watching them in the theatres every other day. Neither did I go the “borrow from the CD library way” prior to the ban: it would only be a “watch the ones I want when I want” basis. But once the ban came on, there was no way I was going to let it go unchallenged!

The first way of beating the ban was to watch pirated copies: they were now more cost inducing for me because of the ban again. Prices had gone up but often, I would rouse younger relatives and we would contribute on shared basis. But the aggressive eeyambas also went overboard and set about warning those selling Hindi films or either seizing them and horror of horrors (!), setting them on fire. The mention of fire reminds me of a hilarious (but very seriously discussed then!) anecdote: an aunt of mine living on the outskirts of Imphal and also a Meira Paibi (the eeyambas had this great show, continued to this day where they call in attention loving Meira Paibis who want their photos in newspapers and their screaming aggressive postures on TV every time there is an “anti-social drive”) called me up. She was hyperventilating- not because she would be in the papers the next day overseeing a truck load of Hindi films being burned on behalf of the eeyambas but because she wanted to ask me which ones I wanted for myself before the fire ceremony started. She got me quite an armful of them in the end!

Back then, I was a full time NGO employee and though there were times of getting out of the state (read, going to places where there was no ban), such trips were totally work oriented and so rushed that it would mostly be a trip to the airport to the place of my destination, then the hotel (for seminar, workshop etc) and back again. The movie watching experience then wasn’t worth pursuing alone: issues of safety and ticket availability were foremost on mind. The norm then was single screen theatres where every social strata packed in: the aggressive auto or truck driver lot who were prone to mad revelry every time an “item” song came on screen but worst, those looking for a physical grope taking advantage of the rush of people at such places. My only way to Hindi film Nirvana was hotel cable/dish TV. The moment I checked in, I would ask at reception,” Do you have Hindi films on cable TV?”

But once the multiplexes arrived on the scene, there was no stopping me! Every opportunity to travel to Delhi for work was a divine blessing for me once cinema multiplexes came into being. Delhi meant the additional safety net of my siblings and I would drag them one by one to watch films. Watching “Chak de” with my brother stands out: the sound effects of the theatre were such that when the hockey matches in the film happened along with the film sounds of whistling, clapping etc, I naturally turned around and asked my brother, “who was whistling?” He gave me a very disgusted look that was suggestive of my country bumpkin status and told me very firmly that he would not watch another Hindi film with me ever! Of course, given such an ultimatum, I could only drag him to another show of “Gandhi, my father” at the same multiplex: not a regular song and dance movie but the sound effect was my latest love. My brother would get back with his own: the next cinema outing on my next trip to Delhi saw him tricking me into thinking he had got me the tickets for the latest Bollywood film and I was easily conned since multiplexes have different posters for all the films they show…I went happily and went into silent disapproving mode when I realized that he was making me watch “Casino Royale” instead!

The James Bond movie episode marred my Hindi movie trips with my brother as I no longer trusted his ticket buying instincts! On a more serious note, I found that I could go on for a solo movie trip in the evening in metros and come back safely to my hotel. Whenever, a trip outside the state was around the corner, I would check show timings and theatre locations on the internet: check distances and landmarks on Google maps and then work out an itinerary…all for Hindi films! During the course of my trips, I found that Aizawl does not have a cinema theatre except for a family theatre put up for family of Assam Riffles personnel and other hangers on. Dimapur had none either except private screenings of Hollywood movies. In Shillong, I found a cinema theatre right in the middle of Police bazaar that I would have otherwise missed if not for my “where is the latest Hindi film being shown?” journey! I went inside and found I was only the 9th person in the entire beer bottle strewn hall dotted with giggling students in their school dresses and 2 couples who had their own reasons for getting into a dark cinema theatre.

Objectively, Hindi films aren’t the best of films in the world: they are based on formula, melodrama and often have sharp lines drawn up between the good guys and the bad guys, therein making the viewers easily judgmental. Before my own discovery of other world movies and certain Hollywood films, it would only be Hindi films for me for their sheer music and dialogue play. But the ban on them has only added to the melodrama aspect and like any typical Hindi film, I have my ‘setting’ of friends based outside the state who will happily send me the latest DVDs and pull my legs over when my next movie outing is scheduled. To them and the folks who put on the ban, I can only borrow from a Hindi film dialogue: picture abhi baaki hain…(meaning the show isn’t over).


  1. Chitra with all due respect to our womenfolk… you are not an ordinary
    woman… what you write..whether you like to admit or not have
    effects… have a holistic view of things … there are lots of problems
    in Manipur and you cannot separate issues which are linked…. Hindi
    films have wider implications on our social, political and economic life…. if at all you would like to write on this subject .. do justice by doing a little research on the subject… Thank you

  2. See this!Today is the day we feel more “funny” in the matter which is suppose not to be while people become more inured and defensive about something where we dont belong at all.These are just illusion and clamors of few remnants mostly as said those who is not able to come out of clutches of servile ideologies.

    Clear that mayang movies should be wiped out mentally and tangibly.We know it harms more than anyone could have imagined.We know also that these are the same people who are dubbed as ” the highest  rape rate(Delhi’s dholakaua moving car rape etc “chinky” should remind us well)”,”dowry killers”,”crime against woman”(rape of Thangjam Manoroma),”Child trafficking rackets hub”,”Human rights violators”,”Racist Indian”,and not so seemingly but apparently”violent” also.(sporadic incident of students beaten by “neigbhours” in small colony of Delhi should remind us)!

    Indeed,Indian recently were conferred with coveted award of “the CORRUPTED” of the year(you can exaggerate it).What scams and scandals that Indian don’t have in their disposal?Only fool will defend and listen to lullaby.Wake up and think better.Indian can not be taken as example in our life.They can not be mended as well.They have diffferent wiring which we should respect from far.I ask Miss Chitrahaar(never realize what have learn and to leave certain even though we have become so grown up) that where is example,morality,or something in her words” a personal revolt”?Its a measure that mind is telling us reject like any foreign bodies rejected by our bodies.As mentioned,this comparison and quirky matters will malfunction our brain to become like this Indian.Incredible India!

    • it is my “personal revolt” to watch Hindi films because I wont let anyone decide which language films I want to watch. this is just a column and NOT a call for other folks to join in the “revolt”. what you have mentioned are so out of context with what the topic that I am writing here. please do not read anything that I write: there is no dikat from me saying that you have to compuslorily read what I write and like it too. Plus, I do not have the backing of anyone powerful who will say that “henceforth, everyone should like what Chitra writes”, so peace. read what you like and believe what you want.leave the rest of us in peace too.

      • I could have said the same,you imagine!It doesnt matter,but your naive ideas will be taken by bad,good,mature,immature, etc. alike. Atleast,now people are subsided  a bit that you were just trying to use just some facade over personal quirks and habits only.Everyone does that,no doubt!But not this fact that any evolving person can not spread directly or indirection under the influence to sway minds of people of the land.Not yet,your reply sounding angst against those who you think as “narrow” but imagine what these same people might also think about people like you!One can called it “too liberal” Too liberal that forgotten to think about one’s own backyard.Too liberal that there is nothing called dignity which mankind is made up of.We believe is furnishing our own ideas and conviction foremost and to learn and appreciate others values and principles as we know ours WELL.


        Kangleipak(a word that succumbed to fatality of sarcasm)

      • Chitra with all due respect to our womenfolk… you are not an ordinary woman… what you write..whether you like to admit or not have effects… have a holistic view of things … there are lots of problems in Manipur and you cannot separate issues which are linked…. Hindi films have wider implications on our social, political and economic life…. if at all you would like to write on this subject .. do justice by doing a little research on the subject… Thank you

    • What is happening here? Khuman,buddy where are you going with this…As Chitra mentioned its just an expression of hers. Why are you using this to provoke xenophobic jingoism over here. I think we all are educated enough to realise where we stand . And to answer to your stance of “Clear that mayang movies should be wiped out mentally ……” tell me one thing its been more than a decade since “Mayang” movies has been banned in the valley..In this regard what significant improvements have we made as a consequence of that? Just coz of that many people lost their livelihood ( I personally know such ppl). Also it proved to be a boom for the piracy market there. When i was there i hardly used to watch any movies in pirated CD/DVDs and when i go there i can see that that’s the only form of entertainment there.

      “Too liberal that there is nothing called dignity which mankind is made up of….” I really wonder where are you living my friend? May i remind you that the most successful and happiest societies are the ones where people have the freedom to choose and not the one where there is a diktat from what they should wear to what they can watch. Unfortunately our society right now is going through the latter .I don want to preach here but i think you first should see this article as a personal expression of someone rather than an act of revolt. I think u need to respect that Chitra has personal choices and this is just an expression of that. You have got this gravely wrong buddy. Wake up and Smell the Coffee!!

      • My reply is Oslo one which just perfect!Redemption  for those who doesnt understand,carry,promote,and continue idiocy. These are the same people who make hell lives slow and servile.Not to mayang but this special genre,a parasite we can call it!

  3. To be honest, i was never a great fan of bollywood movies, but the article shows a true side of our life which we often fail to acknowledge. Even though there have been many pros and cons of the banning of bollywood movies, like any other thing, but we cannot deny the fact that most of us still watch bollywood movies and time to time lost ourself along the tune of a new bollywood song. The writer is trying to represent those section of our society who’ll agree to the fact she has written and this is not something to be judged. It is just an expression.

    • Buddy are you really a meitei?I mean Joshi is surname in other mayang states like gujrati,maharastra etc.Now you ve meitei surname too which angom.Man too confused with such a fundamental aspect,when do we realize.As said we need to come clean before we venture out!

      • ‘m confused!! Is your problem with my name or my comment? hah! i can’t beleive you, you are incredible… why are you such a paranoid brother, grow up!  “small but powerful kangleipak” now where does that come come from?? hindi movies?? hahahaha… 

  4. Chitra I would commend you for such an article…I appreciate your honesty and cando. And to all those who doesnt like wat she has written i would like to say that its time you be honest.Just answer this.. How many of you haven’t watched a Hindi movie in a DVD after the ban?
     Come on movies and music are just form of entertainment and each and everyone of us has a right to choose..You cannot impose what you want onto others..

    Good job!! I totally support you Chitra

  5. I thought Miss Chitratrakatha is just another evolving but turned out to be not what usually seem to be by reading this sheer spurt of her uncontrolled desires and pleasure she savours.Anyway,justifying and comparing mayang(hindi) movies with virtues isnt that become no one’s prerogative yet dear!Why we are different is yet we need to know(esp. people like you).It seem so right to impute or masquerading “brother”in anyway one like to called but truth is not true here in Kangleipak.Please do wait.We have certain responsibilities looking at the broader aspects of our society based on past,present and future which’re so much interdependent.Yes,thats makes us different.We are not free yet many forms.Are we?

    We always tries to project our understanding to others based on perceptions that might surely be again with no doubt pervades with ignorance.Listen,when you think you are so true,you are sure on the wrong side and nothing exactly one knows about the subject.Find out the lacks first and you will be able to find more of “detachment”.Here you are more attracted and overweight by pleasure than the lacks.Got it!

    Ban on mayang movies was just a boon in many ways but covered by nuance of deception that some people have.Lucky I must say we have sometime been insulated to breath to communicate ourselves in many ways to our own selves.Just like any other fake dream to destroy the real time day of  a person,we have been following the far fetch,sky high,un-related routine.Time came to stop it,and indeed it did come.And with sophisticated machination of time.Not by chance I must say.It was indeed a wishes of well million genius thoughts that was accumulating for long.

    Lets keep this aside and think about 21st century education,science,community works,generosity(wellfair of society) etc  as we have enough it since centuries which havent yielded anything  towards truth or reality.

    Small but Can be powerful Kangleipak.

    • Ta khuman… it’s a personal opinion she penned. You don’t have to huff and pufff and try to impose your ideology on everyone. The ban on hindi movies ha done nothing but cost the livelihood of multitudes. You keep your opinion to yourself and she can keep hers. Hindi movies or whatever other movies are made for entertainment. And you have to know that there’s no business like show business. Don’t tell me you don’t ever watch a pirated hindi movie at home. Kannadaba hypocrisy thadoklase. Chaokhat thourang khumang chaosinnaba oina hotnase.

  6. ware ware ebemma….. pothabiro… get some sense of what is important to us before you write simply for the sake of writing… what sort of journalism are you practising?

    • I disagree with you dear leitemba..for once we can forget to be a hypocrite and admit it pls! I think what is important is everyone has a right to a life in manipur..and you seem to have missed the point everyone is reached to a point of frustration..I would be surprised to hear you have never heard or watched a hindi movie. I can clearly a message in chitra’s view /article that people have started talking whats right and wrong and it wouldnt be long when everybody say’s stop ..enough is enough..


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