For those who didn’t know, sometime yesterday I entered my 5th decade. To celebrate, I intended to take a trip to Elephanta Island, then come back to my hotel, have a meal and a beer and then watch a movie. Here’s what actually happened.
I woke at 8.30 to the sound of a child singing ‘Happy birthday to you’. A dhobi-wallah was touting for business in the hotel – I put my dirty clothes in a mesh laundry/fragiles bag but he took them all out – was he really going to wash my four-day-old grunties by hand? (yes he did and yes I did get them all back, nicely folded and presented, for 100 Rupees [UKP1.25])
I meandered towards the Gateway to India, buying a watermelon and two Gallia melons for breakfast and lunch. I got to Horniman circle, and sat to eat one of the Gallias – absolutely delicious! I arrived at GtI around 12 and took a few photos, then saw the crowds waiting to go to Elephanta. An ancient and filthy beggar came up to me – I sent him on his way but then felt really bad, so I gave him the other Gallia.
A tout talked to me, pointing out things that my guide agreed with*, namely that the place would be crowded and yet in the afternoon, Elephanta isn’t so good, and suggesting I take his trip to Kaneri caves. I’d wanted to visit this ancient Buddhist monument and, despite knowing I’d pay more than if I made my own way there, I’d be traveling with an English-speaking guide who would do the haggling and ticket buying for me.
*I checked on this later
On the way, the driver, Dilip, and I talked a lot about the differences between marital customs here and in the UK. I found it hard to explain that I’m separated but not divorced, that I’ve had other relationships in the past and that right now I don’t want another one, nor do I really want casual sex. I think I need someone to put names and dates into Marathi/Hindi, especially the bit about not being divorced. (I also need a tee-shirt saying ‘if I want to buy something, I’ll ask for it so don’t waste your breath on me!’) Dilip also told me that many unmarried couples come to the cave-park for trysting and that I could rent a ‘girlfriend’ by the day or week. I don’t think he was suggesting I should, just that they’re available. He’s married with a son and has a work-visa for Dubai but his wife couldn’t get one so he’s settled back here. He wants to set up his own driving business, rather than driving for someone else.
At the caves, he got me a government (i.e. tipping entirely optional) guide who told me a bit about them in fractured English. (This is not a criticism, just a description. After all, I know I speak no India languages yet.) I was then taken on a ‘lion and tiger safari’ – in a battered armoured bus with a lot of middle-class folk along a rutted track. We did get close to some big cats, so I think I got what was advertised.
Back in Mumbai, I opened the cards and present I’d been given to bruing with me, then ate idlies and veg samosas at a cheap restaurant and then headed for the nearby flea-pit to see Teesri Aankh (The hidden camera). This was a million laughs and I’ll try to explain why:
It opens with a government meeting – a politician asking assorted rows of police ‘who will take on this pornography case?’ Our rugged hero, who is a bit fat and older than me, volunteers. In London, he upsets his girlfriend, who is a model, by continuing with this vocation. She then goes to a shoot in Trafalgar Square. While changing in her trailer, a hidden camera gets some video of her topless: all we get to see is her back as she struggles with her bra-hooks.
Meanwhile, a movie director and his girlfriend realize they’re late for a party: cue fantasy song and dance routine number 1. The next day, at Elstree Studios, they’re filming an attack scene. The attackee muffs her death but a security guard tells them there’s no time for a second shoot because it’s 6.30 and he has to close up now. (For some reason, the SG says he’s English but he had an Australian accent you could use for a door-wedge.) So the film-crew all leave but the continuity-girl (who is mute) runs back into the studio because she’s forgotten something. She promptly gets locked in.
She chances on the set where two made-men who are running the hidden camera bit are using it to blackmail our rugged hero’s girlfriend into doing a porno-scene with them. There’s also some shenanigans with a CD. ORH’s girlfriend refuses, which prompts the made-man who looks like a gay klingon from the 1980s to go radge and stab her many times. As she dies, the CD, which is bad news for someone, falls out of her pocket into an cranny in the set floor.
The continuity-girl runs away but is heard – cue 10-minute chase/hide sequence with lots of shots of her delightfully large breasts bouncing as she runs. During this, she tries to text her director but he doesn’t hear his phone because he’s busy getting a blow-job from a script-writing colleague. (This finishes just in time for him not to get caught by his girl-friend.) Meanwhile CG is still failing to be caught by the made-men but making every stupid move in the book. She’s caught just as our rugged hero arrives along with the director and his girlfriend. She tries to convince them that there’s been a murder but the gay vulcan shows a stage knife and some fake blood and convinces everyone else that he was just acting. Anyway, there’s no body because the security guard has moved all the bin-bags, including the one that actually contains the body, into a skip.
So the director and his girl-friend go to another party while the continuity-girl relaxes in her bath, only to be disturbed by the two made-men. They chase her through the house but she temporarily stops them with an aerosol can and a blunt implement. Meanwhile, for some reason, our rugged hero is attacked by machine-gun wielding bikers. He takes several out with his revolver and kicks which then moves sideways to crush others. Finally he grabs the front wheels of two who try to sandwich him and flips the bikes through 360 degrees. There’s then more fighting, most of which amuses the audience wildly, followed by an intermission.
After the intermission, we get a bit more fighting, then our rugged hero reminisces about his girlfriend – cue fantasy song and dance routine number 2. The choreography doesn’t quite hide that he’s fat and can’t dance. Next, at a meeting in India he’s told that the investigation is off and that the chief suspect is to be freed. Just after walking out of prison, the chief suspect molests a woman walking by, so our rugged hero single-handedly beats up him and his mates. ORH then goes radge on another minor official. This causes a newsfilm-crew to use him to expose a corrupt politician talking live about his corruption, so that’s another baddie sorted.
Meanwhile, the continuity-girl is still running from the made-men, so she runs into a club. Cue fantasy song and dance routine number 3, involving a very attractive woman in a very short skirt: I’m sure we get to see a few glimpses of her undies. Eventually our rugged hero, the film-director, his girlfriend and the continuity-girl go back to Elstree to to look for the CD. Just as they find it, more machine-gun wielding thugs, along with the two made-men burst in. More fighting, in which the director is a prat but his girlfriend saves him and coolly kills the made-man who looks human. ORH shoots the thugs – who are the worst shots ever – and treats the gay Vulcan to a death reminiscent of that of the chief baddie in Commando. (I like Arnie films!) There’s a bit more fighting and policial speechifying and the film ends to rapturous approval from the audience, including me.
So, something for everyone:
- Attractive women shaking their booty in very revealing clothes
- Heavily insinuated (but never actually seen) sex
- Fights which pay homage to Crowching tiger, hidden dragon, The matrix and many Arnie films
- Fantasy song and dance routines with heavy visual effects to hypnotic bangra rhythms
- Anime-like cinematography to emphasise emotion, shock, action, etc. (Think of Mission Impossible II if you can hold down your breakfast.)
- Political intrigue and corruption all dealt with by Dirty Harry tactics
I loved every minute of it!