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Right into the XXX files

Collin Rodrigues goes undercover to find out what is borrowed and by whom at a thriving south Mumbai rental store. Sorry can’t reveal names.. far too many Page 3-type DVD addicts would turn a torrid shade of red with embarrassment.

entertainment Updated: Jan 20, 2009 16:16 IST

Access admitted. Pirated as well as legitimate video material is just a phone call or a mouse click away. You know that already. What you might not know is the extent of the craze for adult material at the video rental stores. Of course, the good old cassette is as dead as a dodo. The demand is on and how for DVDs, VCRs and the new-fangled Blu-ray discs.

Collin Rodrigues goes undercover to find out what is borrowed and by whom at a thriving south Mumbai rental store. Sorry can’t reveal names.. far too many Page 3-type DVD addicts would turn a torrid shade of red with embarrassment.

At least two middle-aged men living in different skyscrapers of Malabar Hill only rent porn movies.. or movies which have XXX ratings. Both have seen certain films that they have liked at least 50 times each. They also have another element in common: both like erotic movies with provocative DVD jackets.

A well-known stock broker who was implicated some years ago in a major fraud case does not phone up the store or turn up personally to select his stack of weekend-watching DVDs.

His chauffeurs arrive asking for ‘hot’ movies. Once his chauffeur even turned up when the boss was behind prison bars, stating that his boss wanted the best among the new arrival of DVDs. Go figure.

Frequently, children pretend to be their dads on the phone. A bunch of kids would come around and look at the adult section of DVDs nervously. After mustering up sufficient courage, one of them said he was 18 (though he was just about 12-13) while another said that he was renting a DVD for his parents. When their ruse didn’t work, they went off muttering under their breath.

Minutes later, the store received a phone call, with a gruff voice barking, “How dare you not give my kids what they want!” The kids were trying to sound adult! The store employee laughed, “Come on kids.. do you want me to call your parents?” The phone went dead at the other end.

A construction baron has been a regular client. In a remarkably drowsy voice, he always demands action movies. His chauffeur often whiles away time at the store, downing ginger tea, ringing up friends and watching Marathi serials. His boss rents a stack of DVDs but only pays for the films he has liked from the pile. The others, he says, weren’t worth his time, effort or money. Store executives chime happily, “No problems sir” but curse him under their breath, “Saala kanjoos.”

Gays only want movies with the same gender erotica like Touch of Pink, Trick, Party Monster or European movies related to the subject. A reputed eye wear manufacturer often asks for such movies but keeps insisting that he’s renting them because he likes high quality cinema.. and “nothing else.” He brags about wild nights out with the girls to camouflage his sexual preference.

A 50yish Bollywood actor, on skid row, shows up around noon to select films for his children. But even before lunch, he appears to be high as a kite.. yet he can manage to strike up a conversation with passers-by who recognise him and ask for autographs.

A high society lady, who is also a career person in her own right, asks for the fresh Hollywood arrivals. The trouble is that she keeps them for months and returns them without watching any of them. Also, she doesn’t quite remember the movies she has rented and keeps asking for the same movies repeatedly.

A diamond merchant is hooked on to erotic films. Often, his teenaged daughter has visited the place and asked, “But who has borrowed these movies (Virtual Encounters, I Like to play Games, I Like to Play Games Too and Centre of the World) on her dad’s account.” No one answers.. but she keeps asking anyway. nAn educationist-cum-technology freak likes watching educational DVDs but is told that he has already seen the few titles in stock.

Then he makes it a point to enlighten the staff about upcoming technology even if they can’t grasp what he is saying. Incidentally, his home was among the first in the city to acquire a DVD player and now the Blue-ray system.

A young woman whose family deals in cars has a penchant for same-gender movies. She wants every title under the sun on “woman-to-woman movies” as she calls them. She surfs the net to recommend titles to the store staff. Delivery boys are not permitted to step inside her Napean Sea Road bungalow. While returning, the movies are packed in multiple covers.

A portly TV actor was into porn films. Then he got married and has not been heard of at the store. His instructions would be clear: no movies from top production houses like Wicked Pictures and Vivid.. only amateur stuff please which he would see again and again.

A senior actor’s second wifewanted to inculcate the work ethic in her son. So the boy was sent to work at the outlet during his school’s summer holidays. He would handle the kiddie movie section. He was fascinated by girls of his age who visited the store. During his fortnight-long stint at the store, he was mainly interested in acquiring the phone numbers and addresses of the girls. They complained about him.. and he was shown the door for being a nuisance.

A well-heeled but very finicky man who doesn’t want to spend one paisa more than he should, calls up at least 10 times before starting a movie on his system.

If the film’s story sound familiar to him, he says, “I don’t want to see this.. pick it up tomorrow.. I won’t pay for it.” But who’s to tell him that it’s very obvious that he sees every movie but doesn’t want to be billed.

A young man is known to keep one movie for 20 days. He believes that it’s lucky for him if he returns it on the 21st day.

One man only wants to see movies about terrorism and assassinations but before renting them wants to know if they have ‘happy endings’.

One gay client, nine times out of 10, answers the doorbell, wrapped only in a towel, and invites the delivery boy in. They refuse politely.

One client only watches movies in the fast forward mode. Which is why he watches 20 movies at least every weekend.

A man in his 70s only wants to see sex-and-violence movies and says so.

One client avoids thrillers if cops are shown in uniform. It’s okay if they are dressed in every day clothes.

Sex education videos are a rage with the over-60s generation.

A leading architect, in his early 50s, only watches porn movies. A team of bodyguards often pick up his selection.