“Let’s go to watch Hum Dono Rangeen at PVR!” I suggested my parents. “Why spend four to five hundred bucks for an old movie?” asked my father. Well, convincing my parents to watch a film at multiplex is no cakewalk. In the times of ‘aapke zamaane mein baap ke zamaane ke burger’ on one side and ‘petrol price = beer price’ on the other (now that the onions are back to Rs. 20-25, can we please give the onions a break or rather a well-deserved smash?), they fail to understand why multiplex ticket rates cannot be reduced to a burger’s rate.
“In our times, entertainment was meant for everyone, not just a select few with deep pockets,” he argued. “In that case, we have choice – watching it at a single screen theatre – Aradhana talkies.” I was about to finish, and my mother instantly agreed. Her eyes lit up at the very thought of visiting one of the theatres where she grew up watching films. The matter was settled. Aradhana was in, PVR was out. Being an ardent Dev Anand fan, I had no other choice but to agree or try coaxing other friends to accompany me or watch it alone.
So, there we were, at Aradhana talkies without booking tickets in advance, as I was sure the theatre must be empty. To my surprise, the ticket window was about to announce ‘House Full’. The other thing that took me by surprise was the crowd. Almost everyone seemed to be from middle and upper middleclass and between the age group of 40-65 +. The local news channel team was busy interviewing the enthusiastic ‘Dev Anand fans’ and forty senior citizens from an Old Age Home funded by Hope Charitable Trust, Vadodara.
Climbing the flight of stairs to reach ‘Balcony stall’ required a lot of patience. Two hunchbacked old ladies with walking stick in their hands were leading the pack – and no one complained of the slow-paced queue. My parents looked around in nostalgia, pointing out how things had changed over a period of time.
The theatre played old songs, which set the right ambience to watch Hum Dono Rangeen. I looked around and felt a bit guilty of completely abandoning single screen theatres after multiplexes mushroomed around the city. The blackened ceiling and walls wailed silently, while the fans whirred with a lamenting song of being neglected, until its bearings found the grease of solace and hushed it.
The first ten-minute of the film has no dialogue and the film begins with the song, ‘Abhi na jaao’. As Dev Anand was about to lip sync Mohd. Rafi, the audience had already started humming. The wrinkled faces adorned with nostalgic smiles battled the darkness of auditorium and old age, glowing in front of the silver screen. As the film progressed, I could hear an old man laughing and asking his wife, “Hey do you remember what happens when the two Dev Anands meet?” The wife was too engrossed to respond till the interval.
The guy at food stall was clinking cold drink bottles with opener. This sound used to be music to my ears during my childhood when I’d yearn for them and pester my parents. This time, I was the one to buy cold drinks for them, while secretly inspecting the Coca Cola bottles to ensure they were original.
The lobby was abuzz with ‘Dev Anand stories’ – how he was banned to wear black as women swooned when they saw him in a black suit, how Dev Anand’s house was always mobbed by beautiful women, how women married his pictures, how he was rejected by Suraiyya and how he got married to Kalpana Kartik during a lunch break. The bell rang, and everyone rushed back to be enamoured by the evergreen star playing a double role.
After watching Hum Dono Rangeen, neither did I nor my parents ask each other ‘How was the movie?’ We rather ended up asking ‘How was the experience?’ Well, this is precisely the reason I didn’t even think of writing this film’s review or rate it.
I still remember, while we were walking out of the theatre after watching Hum Dono Rangeen, my mother pointed towards an old man who was whistling the tune of ‘Mein zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya’. The others senior citizens promptly joined him, by humming, singing and whistling together. Can any film critic or movie buff worth his salt ever give a better rating to a movie than this?