"When can I submit my answer sheet?" I asked the invigilator in the examination hall. First he gave me a look as if saying "I can see on your stupid face that you don't know anything and will never qualify this exam". Finally after a pause he said "Not before 11:00 hrs, madam". It was just 10:25 and that meant I had to wait for full 35 mins. I decided to flip through the question paper and recheck all the answers I had marked. Then I looked at the watch and it said 10:45. The thought ran through my mind "Oh my God! How will I get the tickets?"
I was in Aligarh on that day, which was 21st or 22nd June 2001, the release date of 'Lagaan'. The reason for my being in Aligarh was the All India Entrance Examination for M.Sc. (Biotechnology). Giving company to me was my poor brother who was sitting somewhere in the University campus while I was answering and re-answering the question paper. I had full confidence that no matter how well I do that exam, I would never get through. I just knew that. So, before entering the exam hall I gave instructions to my brother to buy a local newspaper and check the show-timings of Lagaan in all nearby theatres.
Somehow I managed to escape from the exam hall after throwing the damn paper on the invigilator's desk. The next memory I have is that both my brother and I are on a rickshaw, rushing towards some theatre. The first show was at 11:45. I could not believe I was going to watch the premiere show of 'Lagaan'. :)
We reached the theater just on time. Instead of having lunch, we grabbed some samosas or sandwich (I don't remember correctly). And then it began... Every moment was fun. Actually even more fun because the crowd was very rowdy. The theater was full of Aligarh-based lafangaas. Wali even whispered in my ears, "Aapi shayad tum akeli ladki ho is hall mein is waqt". "Arey kya farq padta hai. Picture dekho yaar", I replied.
But before it could end we had to leave because we had to rush to the station to catch a train for Lucknow. Wali was more stressed than me. He kept on nudging me, "Aapi chalo, train ka time ho gaya hai". "Don't you understand that I cannot leave the seat before watching the last day of the match", I felt like telling him. "May be the train is late", the thought crossed my mind. "Or may be not.", I thought. Ammi Abbu would kill both of us if we miss the train because of a movie. This final thought made me get up from the seat very reluctantly. I looked back at the screen one last time. "O Paalanhaare..." had just started. "Let Bhuvan's team win, God", I prayed and left.
We were able to catch Gomti express and return home on time. Previously we had decided that we won't tell our parents that we watched the movie. But we could not do that. We convinced them that all of us have to watch it in the theatre again. After less than a week, the four of us watched the movie again at 'Pratibha'.
And, Bhuvan's team won!
P.S. I liked the last bit of narration in Amitabh Bachchan's voice- "Elizabeth apne mann mein Bhuvan ki moorat le kar England waapas chali gayi aur saara jeevan avivahit reh kar Bhuvan ki Radha bani".
"Is aitehaasik jeet ke baad bhi Bhuvan ka naam itihaas ke panno mein kaheen kho gaya".
(Only to be revived by Ashutosh Gowariker)
(I guess I will have to write a separate detailed post only about Bhuvan, one of my favourite characters)