Isn't Chhoti Si Baat the perfect Bombay movie? We saw it at the Museum here in Bombay yesterday, as part of the ongoing Kala Ghoda Festival. It packs in double-decker buses (don't miss the trailer buses, familiar to a certain vintage among us) and the Samovar Cafe in the Jehangir Art Gallery, Flora Restaurant and Elphinstone College. It's a reminder of a time when we were generally car-free and thus maybe even carefree: the broad empty roads are a visual treat.
But with all that, it also captures that young infatuation in the city feeling that all of us must have gone through. You feel for that apparition who takes the bus with you, but you're just too tongue-tied to say something, anything. Oh yeah. Tragedy at the time, but nostalgia in hindsight.
And I've not even totted up the other delights in this film: the table-tennis ball that gets chewed; Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh; a time when if you held something to your ear it was a pocket radio tuned to the commentary; and perhaps above all, "Chicken a la Poos" (served, naturally, by D'Souza).
Chhoti Si Baat was a perfect start to a Sunday at the crowded Festival. On the way out of the Museum, I stopped at the Name on Rice dude and asked him to paint, on one grain of rice, "Arshanapalayam Srinivasa Raghava Sanjay Sampat Iyengar". He took a while, but he did it expertly and readably, not that I had any doubts. After all, he once painted "Kanakadurga Tirthraj Govindarajulu" on a grain of rice.
All right. No more fooling around. Next time, Hanif -- that's his name -- gets Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushanta Joseph Chaminda Vaas.
Hardly anyone knows about it, but if you do go to the Festival, you're less than five minutes walk from these guys. My favourite Bombay tourist attraction, in a shed behind Elphinstone College: now go find them.