On the trail of a dirty picture

- Manohar Shrestha

Sep 21, 2017-Many years ago, a friend of mine rang me up to enquire if I would be game for a dirty picture. He had an 8 mm projector and a film reel, courtesy of his foreign friends. He wanted a place to watch it away from his snooping elders and curious siblings. Understandably, he did not want to be caught with his pants down. My excited friend timidly invited me to find a place for a private screening. By then we had already heard stories of some smart young traders clandestinely screening dirty pictures on rented TV sets and video decks for a hefty entrance fee. At a young age, it was always hard to resist the temptation of watching a full-bodied action picture. So, I asked my friend to hang on to the projector while I arranged a safe place to enjoy it. 

An acquaintance, a grumpy middle-aged man working as an accountant at a family-run, then four-star, hotel promised to fix a guest room at a propitious time when the owners were away. Soon enough, I received a call. On the lucky day, after work, we sauntered with the heavy projector and the reel in our hands down King’s Way and past Kaiser Library to the hotel. Just as we were settled in the room and ready to roll, true to the maxim that ‘man proposes, God disposes’, the projector refused to start. After trying to fix it in vain for over an hour, I kicked it in frustration. To our great relief, the projector suddenly made a whirling noise and started running automatically. We had hardly watched the film for about 10 minutes when the projector stopped abruptly. No amount of kicking and fiddling would restart it. With a heavy heart, and a few beers and some chicken chilly and potato chips in our bellies, we retreated on foot to our abode, dejected and forlorn. 

A few months later, the friend invited me to come and enjoy a picture in the dirty alleys of Maasan Galli, off Indra Chowk, choking with video parlours and momo joints. The lane had a festive air. As I eased on to a dirty, tattered mattress among a veritable crowd, a young man started collecting money and followed it with a safety talk: no noise and certainly no fights. He also assured us that no cops would surprise us, but just in case, he pointed to the back door and windows to jump out from. Occasionally, one read about raids in The Rising Nepal. For me, one visit was enough, as I not only despised the place but also did not want to become the news, and risk my job as an executive. Today, you can just sit at home or in the office and watch as many dirty pictures as you fancy on your mobile phone. But they have lost their appeal to our senses. 

Published: 21-09-2017 08:08

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