Please do not read this if you have a weak heart, for it is a horrific tale of violence, greed and money. And to think it all began with a movie.
There were four of us — normal, mild-mannered college students, desperate to watch Dhoom 2. And so determined were we that we actually got up well before noon (unthinkable otherwise) on a Sunday. Everything seemed to go well — the metro was suitably fast, people around us were smiling and we were bubbling with anticipation. We practically bounced up to the ticket counter. “House full!” sang the man behind the counter, an irritatingly cheerful specimen. “All shows?” we asked with a sense of foreboding. His smile could have fetched a dozen toothpaste endorsements. “Oh yes! The weekend’s sold out,” he chirruped.
We held a council of war. Should we abandon our noble quest and return vanquished? “No!” cried one, “We set out to do a task and we shall return victorious!” We all but saluted him. “All for one and one for all!” I cried. And we launched into the mission with vigour.
We called up all the theatres in the city.
Finally we struck gold. A Janakpuri theatre still had tickets, provided we hurried. We leapt into an autorickshaw. “Drive as if your mother-in-law is after you!” we yelled. He gave us a baleful stare, “I’m a bachelor.” Oh well.
Half an hour later, we disembarked and were instantly absorbed in the mob that was fighting tooth and nail to reach the ultimate destination — the ticket counter. There were shoves, scuffles and muffled curses. When I was finally sixth in the queue, there was a sudden hush and then, with a deafening roar, the crowd scattered. Only two things can create this effect: a bomb or a ‘House full’ placard.
And then, out of thin air, materialised a fat, grumpy old man — unremarkable, except for the tiny fact that he was clutching a thick sheaf of tickets to the show. The price was, of course, twice the usual. The aforementioned crowd gasped and converged like a pack of wolves upon the ‘Black’guard. We asked him whether there was a bulk discount. He gave us an Are-you-out-of-your-mind look. We stood there, shaking our heads and berating those around us for their greed and weakness. “Thieves!” we all exclaimed. And bought four tickets.