I will take a leaf out of Raja's book and start off on my top 10 lists. This list is about the movie experiences, which means that it is not about the movie at all but my experience in the movie for whatever reasons. So all you critics can hold your comments that you're dying to shoot off at me. This is random and in some parts chronological.
1. Towering Inferno
Watched it in Alankar theatre Warangal as a ten year old and my eyes popped out at the drama, the tragedy, the heroics and the fight for survival. That movie got me for sheer scale cause I never saw anything like that before. And it was a second show that my father thoughtfully took us all to, after putting down his foot in the morning when I asked if I could go with my friend's and their family because he thought it would be too scary!
This multi-starrer got into the veins of a small ten year old from Warangal even at its promotion stage. And when Sholay actually hit the theatres, it was one of the most difficult movies to get tickets to. Somebody had to pull a few strings to get us tickets and all of us kids went in a small car owned by one of Dad's assistants - a car which we named fondly as the 'Sholay car'. I forget the name of the theatre in Hanamkonda but I know where it is, right on the main road to the left as we go to Warangal. We all got scared at Gabbar's theatrics, got shocked when Thakur's shawl fell off, got bored with Jaya Bhaduri and her extreme behavior, got turned on when Helen bumped and grinded her hips, cried when Amitabh died and laughed at Dharmendra's antics. Super movie stuff. Watched it several times and think its still worth a watch.
3. Enter The Dragon
I watched it in a Hyderabad theatre, probably Srinivasa, and can never forget the experience of watching Bruce Lee tear into his opponents with his bare hands. It was so powerful that when I walked out of the theatre I had my fists clenched and would have caused serious damage to anyone who had the stupidity to challenge me then. The final fight amidst the mirrors, with the iron claws, it was sheer adrenalin running through. I haven't felt that powerful ever.
The hoardings were full of Amitabh, running full throttle to escape his pursuers. Don was another stylish flick with Amitabh at his very stylish best. It was pacy, racy, full of intrigue and twists and turns until the end as Amitabh runs, dodges, twists and turns his way to fit in with the flow. I watched it several times - five at least. I remember bribing our tailor Ahmed in Hyderabad to take me to the movie a second time in one of those three theatres that stood in a row near Muzzamjahi market - Navrang, I guess. Wonder how Mom let me watch it twice in a week.
5. Abba The Movie
Sometime in 1977 when this movie came to Hyderabad, my sister Chanti and I pestered Bavagaru to take us to the movie. He came riding his scooter an ancient sky blue Allwyn Pushpak from work, and we both went by bus to Patny where he picked us up. We went to Tivoli to watch the movie and life was never the same again - at least for me. I fell in love with Anni Frid promptly, and thought she was incredibly sexy. The Abba music set me up with the huge big world of western music and from then on, I began listening to happy, irreverent, peppy, trendy, angry songs sung by western bands. Thanks Abba!
6. Mr. Boo
When I saw it first in Amaravathi with Mythily, I was still in school. But it was so funny then I remember thinking I'd die of laughing. It was so bad my laughing that I wanted the gags to stop so I could get my breath back. I must have got off the seat at least a couple of times. I saw it again many years later but it was not so funny that time.
Chiranjeevi and Sumalatha starred in this heartwarming love story of an educated waiter and a well read modern woman who had definite ideas on marriage and dowry. Great music, lovely story and fine memories. For the first time after many years, I was enamoured with the idea of normal, everyday people with honest ideas, living life the best they can, with humour and dignity. Watched it several times including once all by myself Satyam.
Nagarjuna's tragic romance was one of the few movies that I watched several times. Don't know what it did, but it drew me and many other youngsters in those days to watch it again and again. Loved the songs, the romance, the cinematography and the experience. And I remember Chandu did some jugaad with the theatre management at Devi theatre to get us all tickets - we were studying in the University then. And oh, all the girls wore Geetanjali skirts those days and looked very pretty too.
Another movie of the 80s that got released when we were in college. Sunny Deol's portrayal of a young, unemployed Mumbai youth who takes on the system single handedly with his band of friends remains deeply etched in my mind. It was a pretty realistic depiction of the way things functioned those days and was shot very realistically by Rahul Rawail. The scene where Arjun's friend is murdered in the rain, in a sea of umbrellas, remains in the mind, just as the music is. I remember going to the movie with my pals from the OU Engineering College, Choudary, Sanjay, Ali and Subba Rao and we watched it at Venkataramana.
Ashutosh Gowariker and Aamir Khan's 'Lagaan' was a big emotional roller coaster for me. One, for the game of cricket which never found anyone worthy of making a movie remotely as dramatic as the game can be, another for the sheer story telling prowess of the director. It was amazing. I don't remember being on such a ride for many many years - tears, excitement, suspense - even when I knew who was winning in the end. Watched it at Vimal theatre with Shobha and Gunnu.
Though its supposed to be a top 10 list, I decided to change the rules and add some more. Management prerogative. So I will add Ram Gopal Varma's 'Shiva' to the list because that happened at about the same time and was a Telugu, Hyderabadi version of 'Arjun'. Nagarjuna did what Sunny Deol did wonderfully, underplaying the role well and there were fantastic performances by all, specially Tanikella Bharani. I did not place this movie in the top 10 because I did not remember where I saw it, a prerequisite to be a great movie experience!