#28 – Mithwa
I think the first movie ever watched in a theater does leave a memory with us. The experience is something that’s unforgettable. The first movie I remember watching in a theater is Lagaan. My family wasn’t that interested to go to the theater to watch movies, I think, so most movies were watched on video cassettes we borrowed from the nearby video library. When my cousin’s family came on their summer vacation to India in 2001, they wanted to watch a movie together, and they pulled me along too. This was a very popular movie then, housefull for each show and all that. I remember entering the theater premises from the side gate, the aroma of buttery popcorn coming from nearby, the other people jostling with each other to get inside quickly before the movie started. Back then, there were very few trailers shown before the movie (if any). We knew we were early and still had time, so the children (5 of us in total) were each given a large packet of masala popcorn and fryums to munch during the movie. The lights were dimmed and nearly gone by the time we entered the theater itself, and an attendant guided us to our seats using a small torchlight.
The movie, a sports drama set in the Victorian period of India’s colonial British Raj, follows a cricket match that comes about when Bhuvan, the leader of a small group, mocks the game of cricket which he witnesses when they go to protest against the high taxes imposed on the villages of his province by the British commandant there. The province is unable to pay the taxes because of a prolonged drought that’s affecting the region. The commandant offers to cancel the taxes for the province for three years if Bhuvan and a team he assembles can beat the Commandant’s team in a game of cricket. However, if Bhuvan’s team loses, the province will have to pay three times the normal tax. The movie shows how Bhuvan convinces the villagers, how they prepare for the match with the help of the Commandant’s sister, and the match itself. It also has a love story woven through it too. As children, we didn’t really pay attention deeply to the love story aspect of it, but were enthralled by the match itself, how the villagers, who didn’t know anything about the game, conquered the challenge and won the night. And the music lovers that we were, the songs were definitely one of the more memorable things. We loved every song in the movie, but two songs we loved the most were the prayer song, O Paalanhaare, and this one.
O Mithwa comes at a time when the movie is still developing towards the cynosure, the cricket match. I love the song because the lyrics inspires not to be afraid, to be hopeful that the drought will soon end and the spring will come, that whatever difficulty we face will lead us to days of comfort that are surely ahead of us. In the movie, Bhuvan sings this trying to convince the other villagers, and successfully convinces a couple of them to join his cause. The music is energetic too, just the beat that cheers up a moody phase, I think and once again, the maestro behind the music is AR Rahman, one who I admire a lot. And the lyrics is by another ace in Indian cinema, Javed Akhtar.
The part of the lyrics I love the most?
Purwa bhi gaayegi masti bhi chhaayegi
Milke pukaaro to
Phoolon waali jo rut hai aayegi
Haan sukh bhare din dukh ke bin laayegi
It translates to…
The breeze will sing
And there will be fun
If we call together
The spring will come
It’ll bring happy days
Without the sorrows
I remember talking about the movie and its music with my classmates on the next day. Some of them had watched it already and loved it to. And the discussion flowed. Something to talk about other than academics. Perhaps that was the moment I became less of an introvert. Life brings sorrows and uncertainty at times. And these hold on to us very tightly too. To shake it off, a bit of hope is essential, and to believe that the spring will come after winter and drought is something very positive. Songs like these are what gives me that bit of hope when needed.
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason, 28th Nov, 2016)