A lot of people's lives have been upset because of the strike in the film industry in Maharashtra. Not just the lives of Hema Malini and Rishi Kapoor and B. R. Chopra, who work in the industry, but also simple people who go to the cinema for entertainment. Like my friend who lives on the 21st floor and must visit the cinema at least three times a week.
He now goes to Ahmedabad, where the cinemas are noton strike, and yesterday he was kind enough to invite me along.
At 5 p.m., we took a helicopter from the terrace of his 21st floor flat and flew direct to the airport, where his private Boeing was waiting for us with its full complement of cockpit and cabin crew. The airhostess handed him two tickets for the 6.30 p.m. show at Ahmedabad's Navyug Cinema.
As we took off, my friend explained: "That is the difficult part, getting the tickets in advance. All cinemas in Ahmedabad are all the time full, they love cricket and films and are prepared to pay 500 rupees for a five-rupee ticket. My air-hostess flies to Ahmedabad by Indian Airlines in the morning, buys the tickets and brings them back."
"I have heard that Ahmedabadis have a lot of money," I said.
On the plane, we were served tea, muffins, cucumber sandwiches, cold cuts and wines. "Drink up," my friend advised me, "there is prohibition in Ahmedabad."
My friend said: "All this is costing a lot of money. But then, what to do, cinemas are the only entertainment for ordinary people like us and we have to spend on some thing."
The senior air-hostess then came to us and offered us a selection of in-flight movies: Amadeus, 1984, Bodyline Ė The Movies and the new musical verisions of Les Miserables and Multiny On The Bounty. My friend said: "You select this is your type of thing. I am looking forward to our film in Ahmedabad."
At Ahmedabad airport, the Gujarat chief minister, the city's mayor, the office-bearers of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Mr. Pranab Mukherjee were waiting to receive my friend. "They do it every time I come here to see a movie," my friend said.
We drove to the cinema in my friend's Rolls-Royce, which he had earlier transported to Ahmedabad for the duration of the strike. Everybody said it was the best car Ahmedabad had seen after those of the Lalbhais, the Sarabhais, the Arvindbhais etc.
The film was quite nice. I forget the name, but it had two of Gujarat's top stars, Asrami and Aruna Irani, and the entire audience, including my friend and I, loved and applauded the film. I also loved the masala tea we had in the foyer during the interval.
Returning home, my friend gave money to the air-hostess to go next morning and buy tickets at the Rialto Cinema, Baroda.