Marvels of Malegaon
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Low on budget, high on joy, this little movie industry is special
Malegaon is 296 kilometres from Mumbai, a dusty, nondescript place with a largely poor Muslim majority population and a power-loom weaving industry in crisis. But these are not the things most newspaper readers would know. Malegaon made headlines because of post-Babri riots in 1993 and has been much discussed for a series of bomb blasts in 2006. Faiza Ahmad Khan's marvellous film Supermen of Malegaon, released in five Indian cities last week, highlights a less known side of Malegaon: its obsession with cinema.
Several reviewers have called Supermen a tribute to Malegaon's movie-madness, and it is true that the place seems to live, breathe, dream cinema. The opening sequence splices together two images of Malegaon's men: at work, operating the town's power looms, and at leisure ó knuckles and faces pressed up against the grills of a movie hall, waiting for the doors to open. The clickety-clack of the looms is also the ticking clock by which Malegaon's labouring poor measure the time left for Friday, "Jumme ke roz", when the looms shut down and the cinemas open. As one weaver says to Khan, "Apni zindagi mein agar yeh nahi mila, toh tasavvuron mein dekhein (If we haven't got this in life, we can see it in our imaginations)."
Movies are the stuff of Malegaon's fantasies; they enliven the everyday. For Rs 4 you can get a Titanic kite, or a Shah Rukh Khan one; for two rupees more you can have a Don kite, where Amitabh Bachchan's new KBC avatar dwarfs his 1978 self. For Rs150, you can have your hair cut like Sanjay Dutt, back in the day when he still had hair. Even the boy performing sleight-of-hand tricks in the street has named his three pebbles Sridevi, Aishwarya Rai and Rani Mukherjee.
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