Friday, August 23, 2002

Nostalgia: Friday night blues {NOTE: Some people may find this offensive}

Yesterday's post brought back more memories (especially since I had nothing much to think about on the bus home). I've already written about DD's Friday night spiel. When satellite television hit India, several channels also reserved late nights for 'mature' fare -- Star Movies, Jain TV {this action must have surely gone against any mission statement they had}, TB6 {if I remember correctly, it was this Russian channel that had a great following among friends who lived in areas where the cable operators were indiscreet enough to include it as part of the package. It featured native Russian sleaze as well as Russian dubs of American movies. The only time I accidentally caught it I saw James Woods mouthing Russian in a terribly dubbed version of The Boost}. More about these later. As an aside, The Boost was based on a book by Ben Stein (viewers of The Wonder Years will remember him as Mr. Cantwell, the Science teacher with the hilarious dry disinterested monotone.

First, the Friday Night Intimate Scene Rule. Friends of mine arrived at the following conclusion based on their empirical corpus of mature films viewed: If the film is R-rated then there will be an intimate scene within the first hour of the film. The levels of intimacy would vary based on the plot of the film. Based on my experience, this rule has held out strong and I was reminded of this every time I caught a movie for the first time on Star Movies.

What was I doing up so late? Well, in the four academically void but culturally interesting years as an undergraduate at the cheapo-gothic Govt. College of Engineering, Pune (which asserted its autonomy by changing its name to Pune Institute of Engineering and Technology), I got used to late nights at home surfing channels and consuming movies. Since I preferred to study in the wee hours of the night, and because I was hooked on TV (providing the hum and buzz in the background as I tried to understand why lathe machines were important to my future as a computer scientist), I caught a few movies that were fodder for trivia years later: Eat My Dust! (Roger Corman's vehicle for Ron Howard), Love Letters (a relatively obscure Jamie Lee Curtis movie with David Duchovny cameoing as an old boyfriend), and obscure B-films on Zee Cinema {including some howlarious dubs of Nagarjuna starrers suffering from a Shiva hangover: for example, consider gundas and disco beats plus the desire to be a singer etc etc}. Some of the films were re-runs of primetime blockbusters like Die Hard. Of course, the government soon decided that it was time to take umbrage at the potential damage that these satellite channels would cause to traditional Indian values upheld by a corrupt bunch of halfwits. Thence movies like Die Hard and Platoon suddenly became short family films with all the scenes and dialogues involving cuss words making a quick hasty abrupt departure into the neverland. This is what irks me most about satellite channels. It would appear that there weren't enough movies that could be shown to a home audience without being subjected to the scissor considering how many mainstream hits (read: movies laden with intimacy and invectives) they insisted on presenting in bowdlerized form. Of course, it was always a delight to catch them where they faltered: I remember points in Die Hard: With a Vengeance where you can hear the cuss words they forgot to take out. Cheap thrills of an insomniac.

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