1. This is *not* a review on the movie, so don’t be dejected.
2. This has nothing to do with the movie except that both took place in Banaras.
3. The Bengali words in this post are from the minuscule vocabulary I have acquired from watching Bengali movies (with subtitles, of course). So please excuse me if I make a mistake in Bengali.
4. These are based on actual experiences of my uncle. Some names have been changed; others I made up because I don’t know.
They were four friends from four corners of India – studying together in the multicultural atmosphere of IT-BHU.
Bored with the intellectual routine of their engineering life, they decided to visit the outskirts of Banaras over the weekend. Their plan was to see the “Ramlila” – a kind of drama based on Ramayan.
On Saturday, they all got ready to travel. Ravi and George were packing their bags when Soham came and asked,
Ravi stared blankly at Soham while George mumbled, “There he goes again.”
That sounded like Bengali (they guessed from the lot of O’s) and by the tone of it, it looked like a question. But they didn’t understand what he had meant.
George said, “Talk in English, will you? How in the world do you expect us to understand every time you talk in Bengali?”
Soham said, “Oh…I asked where Lokhan……Lakshman is”
“#$%^!@. Talking to us in Bengali is worse enough for us. Do you have to change names also? Man. You’re impossible.”
Ravi said matter-of-factly, “So you call Lakshman as Lokhan…What do you call Lakshmi then? Lokhi?”
Soon they set off to their destination. That evening they watched Ramlila. It was a small stage in a large ground. The stage was “well lit” with a few tubelights but there was no microphone. There were quite a few people among the audience and all were watching so silently that you would hear a needle fall.
It was the scene where Hanuman and Raavan were talking before Lankadahan.
Raavan was saying one gargantuan dialogue about 100 words long.
Suddenly the lights went off. Power cut. All they could see now was the silhoutte of the actors in the pale moonlight.
Anyway, that didn’t stop Raavan as he went on with his talking.
Suddenly Hanuman interrupted,
“Ek minute roko” (Wait a minute)
Then he sprinted towards the side of the stage. When he came back, he was carrying a petromax light in his hands.
He casually told Raavan,
“Ab batao” (Go ahead now)
There was a moment of silence, then the four friends started chortling from the audience. They were laughing not because of the few sentences that came out of the blue into the drama, but because the naive villagers were still quiet, listening to every single word with intense devotion and thinking that whatever Hanuman did now too was a part of the script.
George gave a loud audible groan and laughed hysterically. The result of that chuckle – they were chucked out of the grounds and asked not to insult the Ramayana.
They were to stay for the night in the only house with a RCC ceiling in the village. That was the house of their friends’ uncle’s wife’s brother’s acquaintance or something like that. They were greeted rather curtly. The owner offered them a nice and plush bedroom. The bed room was the open terrace, which had no stairs. They had to climb to the terrace using a ladder. The terrace had no parapets, so it was a huge threat for George who usually would roll in his sleep and wake up in Delhi if he slept in Madras. Another good thing was the “mouth-watering” smell of the buffalo dung which was wafting around. The buffalo shed was just beside the ladder.
The owner told them there was a loo outside on the corner, in case they wanted to take a piss in the night.
They thanked the owner for the hospitality. (George murmured something which sounded like a pretty nasty swear word)
Ravi woke up after a few hours. He had no idea what time it was. He had to go to the loo. But he realised that it was going to be a Herculean task because he could not see anything. The moonlight was of no help. He went towards the side of the terrace and precariously stepped on where he thought the ladder was before.
He didn’t feel anything solid coming in contact with his feet. But before he could realise that the ladder was not there, it was too late, and he was on his way down. In the few seconds it would take to go down a height of 10 feet, an amazing number of thoughts passed through his mind. He visualised his friends carrying him to the hospital. He had a broken backbone, several compound fractures, a broken nose, a badly bruised face and loss of that heartthrob look.
Veering off topic, I’ve heard a nice PJ somewhat related to this.
Q. What is the difference between a person falling from the first floor and a person falling from the 10th floor?
A. For the first person, it’s THUD! AAAAHHH!
For the second person, it’s AAAAHHH! THUD!
He came back to the real world when he found that he had landed on something cushiony like a couch. Before he could thank God for that, he was in for another scare. A lazy snort coming from his behind and the swish of what felt like a tail. It suddenly dawned on him. That couch-like thing was the back of a buffalo. He had fallen on a buffalo, which, for reasons good or bad for him, was tied outside the shed.
He was totally freaked out that he didn’t move a muscle. A few seconds later, he realised that the buffalo too was not moving at all, in spite of something so heavy falling on its back. That day he realised the meaning of the popular Mallu phrase, “Pothu pole uranguka” (Sleeping like a buffalo).
By that time, the lights came on. The noise had woken everyone up. Ravi felt a jolt of pleasure when the owner too woke up.
When everyone came out to see what was the noise, he slowly got up from the back of the buffalo, gave a wink as if he had just pulled off a nice stunt and went to the toilet without much ado.