From the 50’s (probably) right to the 80s (definitely) Hindi movies would be projected on these open air screens during Ganpati festival all over Mumbai.
Even medium sized community pandals managed to get screenings.
Mostly the films would be full on action and comedy entertainers.
And audiences would sit on both sides of the screen. Often divided between men on one side and women on the other. Or ‘local’ wadi folks on the right side and then outsiders on the other side. People came with their own chairs, chataais, plastic stools, odomos, water bottles, snacks and what have you.
There would be much dancing on the sides when the songs played.
Those who had balcony views from their flats or chawl common verandahs, were considered the luckiest people in the whole world. Nobody messed with the for hire projection guy, his assistant and the equipment. They were accorded star status. Even served snacks and tea by the Ganesh Mandal committee.
Kids would wait every evening to see what film would be shown that night.
Usually it would be written on a black board outside the pandal.
(A similar system was followed in FTII where there would be some excitement when the screening of the evening would be written in chalk l on a black board outside the Main Theatre (MT) )
Sometimes film would burn during these Ganpati screenings.
There would be much screaming shouting before the screening was restored.
Reels getting mixed up, omitted was common. Fisticuffs breaking out during screenings were not totally uncommon. I have memoires of watching dozens of movies like this. My elder brother and I would go double seat to even far off screenings, if we felt that film was more exciting than the one in our own locality.
Today we watch movies at the flick of a remote or a click of a mouse. We are spoilt for choice. We literally have films ‘on tap’ which we can watch in the most cozy comfort of our homes.
But watching movies like THIS had a different charm. And once the movie started, all the discomfort of sitting on a fruit crate, the smells of the street, the noise and din of drunks, the glares of street lights…everything would just slow down and instantly become irrelevant and diminish…and then disappear from one’s sight and sound…Like Arjun could just see the eye of the fish/bird.The movie lover could just see the screen and the story.
Movies are Magic !!
(Writer is unknown, copied from one of the whatsapp group. I could relate to this writer’s experience, so has decided to shared with my readers)