Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V : VCR and Video Tapes

Do you remember those heady days of Video Cassette Recorder (and Player) fondly called VCR? 

Do you remember those nights when you would rent few Video Tapes together, hook up the VCR to TV and watch back to back movies?

Do you remember those days, when going to cinema halls was not a good experience and satellite television had not arrived in India?

Well, I remember those days growing up. VCR at home was my early education in watching movies. I fell in love with films since then. I am a total film buff today because of it.

We used to stay in a joint family. There was one color TV and one VCR bought by one of my uncles. Normally, all elders would watch movies in the night. But evenings were when I used to mess with it. Sometimes even late nights, doing movie marathons. And do remember I must have been 9 years to 13 years old in this period. I am sure I will not let my child get access to such things early in life. But with internet so deeply entwined with our lives today, I think I would be fighting a losing battle. 

I don't think anybody had heard about parental control then. I don't think anyone realized in those innocent times, that how films can impact kids' psyche. Even for elders, especially women of the house, VCR was a fun thing, thought to be harmless for everyone. Going to cinema halls was considered bad but VCR was okay. Mostly, we would watch popular Bollywood movies or I would rent animation films from the neighborhood shop. 

Sometimes we used to watch marriage videos of recent marriages or videos of other family functions. And I used to feel embarrassed watching them. They were funny though, with cameraman mixing his random special effects when the aunt from neighborhood had just put food in her mouth. Or his credits slates at the start accompanied with popular Hindi songs. It was fun in a way. Now the wedding videos have become much more professional and, I feel, impersonal too. Though tacky in production, those wedding videos of our elders were more honest. Now I am digressing.

So there were these two video tapes lying at our home. They were not rented but owned. Not many people have seen these films or heard about them.

First one was Bhavani Junction, a revenge drama, wherein a husband is after his wife's rapists and killers. The rape sequence and violence in film was graphic in nature. And I had seen this film before even getting into my teens. Not once, but many times over. As the tape was always at home.

Can you imagine how it would have impacted me? I can't really say today.

Then there was another film called Do Anjaane, which was about infidelity and greed for money, leading to a murder. A kid watching such stuff, multiple times, would turn out to be damaged goods. I think I turned out fine by God's grace.

Satellite television and emergence of multiplexes killed the VCR. The content is so easily available today through on demand video. The entire process of going to a video rental shop and spending time to search for a particular video tape and bring it home, had a sense of adventure about it. If the video was risqué, the thrill was a notch higher. Now can Amazon Prime or Netflix or anything else live up to that!!!


Doree Weller said...

You're right about there being a thrill in going to the video store that can't be matched by today's instant streaming. Still, I love the convenience and wouldn't choose to go back. I do still mix it up with Blu rays. I loved what you said about the video weddings of your relatives being cheesy but more honest. You're right that a lot of today's media lacks personality.
Doree Weller

Unknown said...

I do remember those times... we did not VCR at home so it was rented on holidays and the movie marathons would start. I remember watching Ajooba on VCR😂. The VCR renting shop was gaudy too with so many posters around and some of them provocatively too... I remember those times yes...

justrippingg said...


Those were the days! I wonder what those entrepreneurs renting out video cassettes in the neighborhood are doing today.

You sure you turned out fine - let me check that lab's accreditation.


Charan Deep Singh said...

Thanks Doreen for your views. You must see an old Indian wedding video. You will laugh like never before.

Charan Deep Singh said...

Have you seen the two movies I mentioned Abhilash?

Charan Deep Singh said...

Thanks for reading Nirdesh