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Going to the movies

Seona Smiles
Sunday, February 11, 2018

There have been several attempts on my life in the past week.

My own grandson, the Hound of Cullen, was responsible for the scramble to find my breathing medicine in the midnight hour.

He isn't supposed to be in my room unsupervised for the good reason that he fiddles, displaces and breaks things. So when one afternoon he heard me approaching he shot out the room and ran to his mother, complaining that I was angry and after him.

I checked that he hadn't set the bed on fire or thrown the cat out the window, then gave a jolly laugh and said all was well.

Until I woke up in the midnight hour and felt on the night stand for my little plastic asthma inhaler.. It was there all right, but minus the important bit, the tube with the actual medicine.

Stress does not add to the ability to breathe, but fortunately I have these little pressure packs all over the place and was able to find another before I succumbed.

Then a few days later I set out on a harmless visit to the cinema. It wasn't much of an effort to decide to sit in airconditioned comfort in the posh seats, armed with caramel popcorn and chocolate icecream to check out the controversial Indian epic, Padmaavat.

I was aghast when we got inside to find out we had bought tickets in row J, located halfway up to the nearest cloud. My daughter sprang up the steps like a drunken gazelle while I laboured like a hippopotamus, hauling myself up on the sensible, handy railings at the end of each seat row.

Alas, several railings were missing. Probably dislodged by desperate old people trying to get to their seats. I was reduced to shouting at my daughter that it was no use having part-time railings because I was a full-time old person and needed a bit of help here.

She grasped me by the elbow and hustled me up to my row with what I thought was undue haste, but at least I did get to see the movie and not taken to hospital.

I'm an absolute sucker for period movies with elaborate costumes and palatial settings and I have to say that this one didn't disappoint, as far as that goes.

In the rather lengthy disclaimer at the beginning of the film, it not only explains that no animals were hurt in the making of the movie, but also that there were no claims of authenticity or accuracy in either the architecture or costumes, and that the story was based on a 16th century epic poem that is considered to be a work of fiction. Although not by some people, apparently. It also carried one of those 'don't try this at home' messages like the ones on funniest videos or magic act shows. One they should have shown the first time my cousin and I went to the circus and then defied death or serious injury by trying to walk the tightrope tied between the mango tree and the fence. Until auntie caught us and confiscated our skipping rope. (SS2)

This particular notice warns against sati, a widow's self immolation, or jauhar, mass self immolation, which is when a group of women throw themselves on a fire — in this case to avoid being dishonoured by an invading enemy. Sometimes this has involved very young girls and their tiny red dye handprints are seen on some of the gateway pillars leading to the funeral pyre places.

Such practices are now illegal in India, for lots of obvious reasons.

Although it is shown as a shining moment in the film, feminists and all other sensible people are dead set against self immolation.

The burning came as something of a surprise to me because the female hero is shown from the beginning as a strong character in body and mind, seen first as a hunter running through the forest (in a long dress too, mind you) and competently wielding bow and arrows.

She is also shown to be loyal, obedient, intelligent and clever. A couple of times she displayed her cleverness by pretending to give in to the evil invader's demands to see her, but successfully evading his desire and maintaining her modesty (while rescuing her husband).

When it finally came to war, I thought that to try and save her husband's people she would pick up her bow and fight beside him like a warrior queen. But no, she roused the women to save their honour by jumping into the fire. The wicked villain leading the invading horde is caricatured as a crazed, grunting, evil beast, whose appearance and behaviour would leave most drooling aliens from space invasion movies in the dust. His court is depicted as debauched and disgusting, although his violent passions disturb even some of his followers.

I said to my daughter, as I skipped semi-nimbly down the theatre steps clutching her arm, that I could understand why some people had protested about the film. We argued at cross purposes until she could explain that I had the wrong end of the stick. It was the others, she explained, who protested so vehemently. That kept me quiet until on the way home yet another attempt on my life was made by someone who tried to cut through on the left on a single lane road. Much screaming of tyres and myself ensued. I suggest that if you spot a vehicle IO795, you steer well clear of it, the driver seems to have a peculiar idea of road rules or got a licence off internet.

But do go and see the movie and decide for yourself who should be complaining about being misrepresented.

* The writer is a regular contributor to this column. Views expressed are hers and not of this newspaper.

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