Have you ever invited an auto rickshaw driver to watch a film with you after he drops you in front of the multiplex? Have you ever thought that the man selling cigarettes outside that cinema hall was waiting for the interval so that he could sell some sticks and eke a living from it?

We seldom notice people whom we come in contact with while we are in a hurry to catch the latest release. These are people, real people and real stories, outside the theatre, unheard and unseen.

Real People Outside Reel Houses

I saw a taxi driver sleeping inside his taxi outside a multiplex in Bombay. I knocked on his door and he woke up without a fuss. He had to, after all. He was not Aamir Khan in Raja Hindustani, who said “Koun thoka hamari taxi pe?” (who knocked on my taxi?), in a larger-than-life style.

When I told the taxi driver I wanted to talk to him about films, he was a little suspicious, but got talking…

Taxi
Image used for illustration only

He refused to share his name, but told me that he had come to Bombay from U.P. 32 years ago and had been driving a taxi from the last 15 years. The last film he saw was 20 years ago; he neither has the money nor the time to watch a film.

“You are asking me if I feel like watching a film when I don’t have enough money to feed my family properly… If I do not drive a taxi for a day, the next morning I don’t have enough money for a cup of tea,” he said.

Sholay In Parts

Mohd Rafiq who drives an auto rickshaw in Bombay, has never seen a film in a cinema hall in his life, he watches films on his television at home. I was stunned to hear, how Rafiq saw Sholay in parts − Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday and Dharmendra on Saturday! Rafiq says his children and wife watch films on the telly but even they don’t go to the cinema hall as it’s costly.

“It is not affordable for a rickshaw driver to take his family to the cinema hall,” he said. Of course, Rafiq could not afford to see the song, Mehangai dayan khai jaat hai, from Peepli Live in the cinema because of inflation!

Paanwala
Image used for illustration only

Some other stories outside cinema halls are different and interesting. Varun sells cigarettes near Galaxy cinema, Bombay, where he watches the evening shows occasionally.

Desi Boyz was the last show that Varun saw. “I don’t get time to watch movies, I get time only after the picture starts and before it ends, as there is a lot of rush before and after the show”. He watches films on TV but says he loves watching his favourite stars on the big screen.

“In case I get time, I will watch Agneepath,” he said, although he seemed to be unsure about it.

Agneepath Should Bring Good News

Afzal Rehman, who sells sandwiches next to Varun, has been selling sandwiches outside the theater for the last 30 years. He, too, is waiting impatiently for the release of Agneepath on January 26.

Afzal is not a Hrithik Roshan fan but he is waiting for the film only because he is hopeful that Agneepath will attract large number of people to the cinema house and his sales will pick up. A flop films brings more trouble to Afzal than it probably brings to its producers.

“It (the business) depends on films, right now Salman Khan is the king. People come three days before to book tickets if it is a Salman Khan film and I do good business.” The last couple of weeks have been bad for Afzal’s business and all his hopes depend on Agneepath now.

He remembers Feroz Khan’s Qurbani and Amitabh Bachchan’s Aakhree Raasta as the films which helped him earn a lot of money. In recent times it was Salman Khan’s Dabangg which boosted Afzal’s sales.

Hope that Agneepath does well and the ghost of flop films no longer scares Afzal!

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