Surreal India

I can now safely say that I have had one of the most surreal experiences of my life: I watched Rambo 4 in a cinema in Chennai, India. Amongst hundreds of screaming and cheering fans, I sat huddled at the edge of my Laz-e-boy recliner with Freddy, a Brit as enthusiastic about needless violence and a shitty dialogue in films as myself. We rolled up newspaper into headbands and donned them like the warrior that is Rambo.

But first thing's first. We were encouraged to stand at full attention as the Indian national anthem rose in power to greet us. And what a moving anthem it was, even though we couldn't understand the Hindi. The song even came with moving pictures of the Indian flag blowing at full mast and a man singing in the studio, who was one of the most renowned singers in India, as I would later learn. Sitting down, the lights dimmed further and we were enrobed in the beginning of Rambo 4.
The opening sequence saw much bloodshed and tears; the cinema remained quiet and unmoved. Ten minutes in, Rambo made his appearance capturing a writhing poisonous cobra in the amazon. The crowd went wild. Insane. For two solid minutes, the riotous crowd cheered, hooted and screamed. I couldn't help but join in the revelry. It's a natural reaction when seeing a film that infuses you with energy and excitement. There were explosions, much killing of bad guys, and the use of more graphic weapons, such as a machete and a bow and arrow. This ensured more extended death scenes, which moved the crowd even more. Men (the theater was 98% full of this testosterone fuelled sex) stood up to cheer on the bulging hero.

Speaking of bulge, I'm not too sure whether it was muscle, chemicals, or fat that clung to Sylvester's body. In many scenes, all I could focus on besides the dead dialogue and splashing blood, was Rambo's paunch and botoxed skin.

During the intermission, I managed to sneak to the loo. And what a washroom: marble floors and sinks, glass doors to the toilets, and full length mirrors, all pristinely clean. I have only ever seen tastefully designed washrooms like this at classy hotels, and I got the 5-star treatment with just my 100-rupee ticket, which is about 3 dollars Canadian. In the main lobby, the line for fuel, in the form of popcorn, red bull, coffee, and donuts, stretched and converged for meters. I couldn't be bothered- it was back into the noisy theatre for me and the obnoxiously loud jewelry commercials blaring from the screen. I have been to Sathyam cinema so many times that I finally managed to correctly mime the commercials, and even understand some of the dialogue.

Nonetheless, it made for good conversation as my English friend and I commented on everything in the film, from the lack of rivoting lines to the bad acting and cheesy stunts (I highly doubt that it was Sylvester rolling out of that truck at full speed). The unnecessarily long credit list (have you ever in your life seen "salad maker" or "chief fruit picker" in the credits?) made us roll with laughter.

Emerging into the still late night was surreal. After all the shouting, shoving, play fighting and cheering in the cinema, we were greeted with a cool breeze and a wall of impenetrable rickshaw drivers. We had to remember our senses as Freddie negotiated our rate home, and then we were off: fighting, smoking, growling, and punching all the way home. And I have the photos to prove it!

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