Paatti used to take my elder sister Sujatha and me to the movies very often. In fact, this used to be a weekly affair. We got to see all the latest Tamil releases starring Sivaji Ganesan and MGR. We even went to see Amitabh Bachchan flicks with Paatti at Star Theatre that was quite far away from home. We never understood the dialogues was another matter altogether. She used to love the celluloid and the music. Paatti was a great fan of Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar too.
One such outing took us to the film Raja (Tamil remake of Johnny Mera Naam starring Dev Anand) that had Sivaji Ganesan, Jayalalitha, Balaji and Ranga Rao starring in the key roles.
Anybody who has seen either the Tamil or Hindi version must know about the famous striptease performed by Padma Khanna. My sister and I were school kids and one can imagine the culture of those times. We sat on both sides of Paatti in the theatre and were watching the film when the dance began. My shocked grandma ducked both our heads with her hands and told us not to lift them and look at the screen till she told us to.
Today I recall the scene with great hilarity. I remember checking out from the corner of my eyes whether she herself was watching. Yes! Paatti was watching the damned scene and later had quite a lot to say about the declining standard of cinema. The best part of it was, I don’t know about Sujatha, but I remember watching the dance from between the gap in the empty seat in front of me. ;)