Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Crossing.

You don’t come across many of them anymore in Mumbai, I guess. Railway crossings, I mean. When I was a child, I used to be taken in the Mankar family car to Antop Hill, Wadala, for Ganapati darshan. http://popgoestheslop.blogspot.com/2006/08/family-car.html. That was in the late forties and early fifties. We had to wait at two railway crossings to reach the Hill. Mostly, it was for a local train to pass. Sometimes, a lot of shunting used to go on because of goods trains proceeding to or from the BPT warehouses abutting the Mumbai Docks. My cousin, Nalini, married into the Jayakar family lived on the Hill (the rest of the Jayakars still continue to live there) in a sprawling house. The last time I went there as an adult was in the early nineties to attend my cousin’s funeral. By then, the railway crossings were long gone, replaced by a flyover. There was no waiting, no delay. The reason for the nostalgia for the railway crossing is because of a 1990 Australian movie I saw yesterday on the Pix channel. Hugely underrated, unpretentious (it doesn’t even pretend it isn’t a movie) and slow-moving, it somehow managed to grab my attention and interest. It has a very young Russell Crowe as Johnny, the best friend of the arty Sam. Johnny ends up with Meg, the girl whom Sam had deserted. Meg agrees to marry Johnny the very night Sam returns to the village of his birth after an absence of a year and a half. Set in the fifties or sixties (I reckon), it has small-town parades and car races on freeways for spectacle as well as the heartbreak of young love. To save the girl and her betrothed, Sam sacrifices his own life at the crossing. No hamming, no melodrama. Just the irony of random happenstance. Excellent. A serendipitous discovery for me. I thought the use of the long shot as an alienating device was brilliant. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099323/plotsummary. By the way, the movie taglines are: “A time for dreams... A time for choices... A time that would never come again.” And: “Where destiny meets desire.” A bit too over the top for the way the movie happens to be, if you ask me. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099323/taglines. P.S.: One railway crossing in Mumbai that, I know, is still alive and kicking is the one near Andheri Station at Amboli close to which in the Vikas Towers I own a flat.

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