For a teenager growing up in Pune in the 1960s, there were very few options to keep one entertained, and they included playgrounds, parks, and radio. But for Anil Zinker, switching from High School Modern to Ferguson College when he was 16 years old in 1971, far from his home in Saraswat Colony, opened up a new world: movies.

Now a filmmaker, film historian and two-time National Award winner, Zankar looks back on those days as he recalls what the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and cricket matches were like.

“I accidentally met some FTII students in 1974, and started going to FTII to watch movies. Interest turned into passion, thanks to the atmosphere on the FTII campus. For someone who only watched Indian and Hollywood films, exposure to Japanese and European cinema was life-changing.”

The next step was on the expected lines, as he was selected to study film directing at FTII in 1975. “Although FTII was over a decade old when I joined, for those on the outside, it was still the Prabhat Studio campus. You have to tell the rickshaw drivers “Prabhat Studio chalo!” to go to the Film Institute.

“In 1973, my cousin and I caught the 9:30pm show on Natraj of Red Sun. And though Charles Bronson, Alain Delon, and Ursula Andress were the stars, a Japanese actor dressed as a samurai stole the show. When he put on a pose at A railway compartment door, inspecting the platform, there was a spontaneous “Haa!” from the audience.It was the magical moment of the movie.

Two years later when Zankar joined FTII, he “got to see a lot of legend – Toshiro Mifune”.

Zenker An avid enthusiast, Zankar treasures the moments he spent watching domestic and international cricket matches at Pune stadiums.

word of mouth

He says there was a huge difference between watching movies today and back in the day. There was a long lag between listening to a movie and actually watching it. Distributors will make limited number of prints and films in stages, first in ‘Class A’ cities, then in smaller cities like Pune, etc.

We would read about new movies in newspapers and magazines or get word of mouth. It will be weeks before it is released in Pune cinemas. If the movie does well, the wait will be longer because the prints will still be busy in Bombay. Word of mouth was an important factor in the film’s success. Programs like Binaca Geet Mala were also important.”

As the demand for movie tickets outpaced supply, there was black marketing. Today, when I show to my students who easily book movie tickets on mobile phones the famous scene from Dev Anand’s Kala Bazaar shot outside Liberty Theater in Mumbai at the time of the premiere of Mother India, I have to explain what black marketing is in tickets. Cinema. “

The cinema halls were known for specific shows: some only showed Marathi films (Vijayanand, Bhanuvilas, and Prabhat), some were Hollywood blockbusters (West End, Alaka, and Empire), and most others had a predominantly Indian schedule.

“Rahul’s newly opened cinema became very popular with fellow patrons. It was luxurious and air conditioned. I remember watching films like Dr Zhivago and Johnny Mera Naam there. Once at Rahul’s 3.30 show, an enterprising fellow carried a transistor radio into the hall while a match was on. The Test is on and India seemed to be heading towards victory.The periodic blasts from that corner would inform us of the fall of an adverse wicket.

Many theaters showed classics from the 1950s and 1960s as raucous shows in June, when colleges reopened and secured a sizable college crowd, who were hosting movie classes. “On the last day of exams you would see these theaters full of kids. It was like a rite of rushing to watch movies before going home on the last day of exams and you would see several groups of 25-30 students sitting together because in many colleges exams finish on the same day.” Zenker says.

Then there was cricket

An avid enthusiast, Zankar treasures the moments he spent watching domestic and international cricket matches at Pune stadiums. Test matches were not played in Pune, but training matches between visiting international teams and West Zone were frequent.

“Back in the day, we used to watch Ranji and Dulip Trophy matches at Hirabugh Stadium, which is where the Nehru Stadium is built. But only during training matches between visiting teams and West Zone do we get the chance to see international players. The atmosphere will be charged, and the stadiums will be full of excitement, As he recalls.

It was during these matches that Zenker’s eyes saw the real world of fast bowling in the form of Graham Mackenzie of Australia in 1968-69 and Andy Roberts of the West Indies in 1974-75. “There are many wonderful memories. In Graham McKenzie, I saw a real fast bowler for the first time. I also saw Andy Roberts bowling against Sunil Gavaskar, who bowled him again and again at square leg. I have yet to see anyone hook better. And that amazing haul that Pataudi hit it from Pandurang Salgonkar with the ball moving flat and quickly hitting the iron grill for a six, in another over.

Zankar’s Pune wasn’t just about movies and cricket. There are other special memories too. He recalls that during those years it was a pleasant experience returning to the FTII hostel from the Good Luck Cafe late at night. “We could walk halfway through Prabhat Road and Law College Road, if we wanted to, and at many points we were greeted by the fragrance of different kinds of flowers in the summer months,” he says.

“Byonne always has a lot of life other than nonsensical jokes about peths and the siesta hour.”


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