Amidst posh restaurants and well-lit dancing clubs, stood a weird looking red complex, flanked by huge posters and cut-outs. Despite its unsuited location, one could not help but notice this place, especially on this special day with bright lights and an ecstatic crowd yelling and jumping.
A step into Towne 3 Cinemas, San Jose, California, USA, and instantly you are transported to a neighborhood cinema theatre in Chennai. One moment you are in Downtown San Jose and puff, the crazy Chennai crowd welcomes you. Two movies on the same day – Thalaivar / Thala – and this was a festive day for fans.
Though the average ticket rate was $ 12, nobody minded paying more than double — $ 25 — for a Rajini movie (Petta). For the Thala film (Viswasam), the going rate was the usual $ 12.
People, dressed like their heroes with handlebar moustache and black glasses and traditional veshti shatta, stood in long queues waiting to be let in. Psst…some of the crazy fans had been growing the handlebar moustache of Rajini for a month just to flaunt it on FDFS of Petta.
One of the fans had brought an American along – to enjoy the atmosphere or the movie, it was hard to tell. Posters of Rajini and Ajith crowded the inside walls of the theatre with their popular quotes.
Some of the Rajini quotes in the posters were: Ayya enakku innoru per irukku (Baasha), Meesa vacha Chandran, meesa edutha Indran (Thillu Mullu) and Collector sir, orastheenga (Thalapathi).
Soon, everyone got in and scurried to secure great seats to watch their favorite hero on screen. The excitement was almost tangible.
As the screen opened, the crowd roared in delight. Coloured papers flew in the air and whistles erupted, drowning the title music. It was exactly like watching a movie, FDFS in Chennai. Throughout the movie, the crowd clapped and yelled, danced and whistled for favorite dialogues and captivating scenes. It was a celebration.
There were five shows in the cinema hall and it seemed like all the Tamils in the area had made it a point to congregate to see Petta and Viswasam.
There was also cake-cutting before the first show of Petta.
It was a day to remember for the members of the Ajith Fan Club who had a gala time at the theatre. They also turned emotional when their Thala appeared on screen.
Time and distance did not matter. This was home away from home.
(The writer, Bhargavi, resides in San Jose, USA.)