(for lack of any rants, 'am posting something i'd written at S&Co)
In an era when multiplexes had not yet been heard of, Pondicherry did not boast of
too many theatres where English films were exhibited. Unless you counted some which showed sleazy movies, Ratna Theatre was the only exception.
Situated on the main road leading to the bus stand, one couldn’t miss this theatre. I remember its blue exterior and the small green-colored ticket counter. The little space between the small entrance and the ticket counter was occupied by our jeep.
I also vividly remember Roger Moore, grinning sheepishly as he peered out of those huge posters of ‘Moonwalker’ on the compound wall in front.
My memory fails me when I try and recall if we watched the English flicks only over weekends or even on weekdays. But yes, I do remember us squealing in delight whenever mom mentioned a trip to Ratna Theatre. I would insist on washing my hair (to get rid of the sticky coconut oil) and using colorful clips (to match my dress) on the twin ponytails. I also recall how we would awaken our driver (he was a Something-Swami) from his afternoon slumber and ask him to rush us to the theatre before the evening show began.
We lived in the factory quarters 23km from downtown Pondicherry and hence we needed to start at least an hour in advance if we were not to miss some of the movie.
Most films we watched there were action-packed stuff -Raiders of the Lost Ark, Moonraker, Octopussy and the like. There was a substantial section of French viewers who used to be amazed by the whistles and catcalls from the front benches. During the interval, mom would take out a bagful of home-made goodies. Of course, I longed for the samosas they sold at the theatre only to be rebuked by mom -- "We don’t know which oil they use to fry the samosas. I don't want you falling sick."
Then again, those oily samosas were not to be blamed for my sudden illness in the summer of 1985.