May 16, 2006

Own imaginations

Middle of a hot afternoon, driving along a sun-cooked highway, getting hungry and a little cramped from hours in the car, we see a marvellous banyan tree by the roadside and circle around to park under it. The car seems almost grateful for the chance to cool down. We stretch luxuriously, then spread ourselves out on the raised platform that surrounds the tree.

It's a hot desolate spot, a minor crossroad on the highway. But it has me thinking of three films.

First, Dhoom (which I never saw anyway). Because the muted strains of Dhoom Macha Le float by on the breeze. After some looking around, I locate the probable source of the tune. There's a colourful pandal at the foot of a hill in the distance, next to a building. The road that crosses the highway here leads there, and a rusting sign at the junction tells me that that's the "Tulsi Mata Seva Mandal". Some celebration on today, clearly.

Second, Oliver which we watched only two days earlier. My son is leaping about singing snatches from Oom-pah-pah. What I can hear (or "hee-ah") is "There's a little ditty, they're singing in the city ... gin and the bee-ah ... If you've got the patience, your own imaginations will tell you just exactly what you want to hee-ah". Again and again.

Third, Alfred Hitchcock's classic, North by Northwest. As I said, this is a junction, where people wait to catch buses and tempos. At one point I look around to find a lone man sitting on a stone across the road, looking incuriously at us. Harsh sun, little shade, crossroad in the middle of nowhere, minimal traffic, man appears on the other side of the road: it pops straight into my head. This could describe the lead up to the famous sequence in North by Northwest.

In the film, Cary Grant crosses over to talk to that laconic dude. Today, this one piles into a throbbing three-wheeler before I can think of crossing. (Though, Grant had something to ask his man. Me, what would I say to this guy?)

All that's lacking is a small plane in the distance, pretending to be crop-dusting.

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