"It is just like sitting in a big cake..." That was the clinching sentence that made me book tickets for "Dabangg" in Jaipur's "Cake Cinema." I just hoped Lucky, our driver, didn't mean Dundee cake.
Bollywood produces hundreds of films each year and draws in regular cinema audiences numbering millions. Most of the films follow the same love, violence, family problems, sing and dance genre in order to satisfy the majority of a 1.1 billion viewer market and in Jaipur, I began my Bollywood education with a standard Hindi comedy called "Dabangg."
Dabangg roughly translated is something like undefeatable, which made sense considering the main character, a cross between a beefed-up, Indian Freddy Mercury and the policeman from The Village People, was largely invincible. The main man also inspired whoops and cheers from the cinema audience when he first came onto the screen, including one guy next to me who let out a bizarre Mohican war cry to show his approval of the characters appearance.
I suppose any character who can bust the Bollywood dance moves, harmonise the Hindi hymns, battle with the bad guys matrix style, dodge bullets, laugh after being stabbed and rip off his shirt with his expanding hulk-esque muscles at the sight of his dead mothers inhaler, deserves to be cheered and applauded when he blesses the screen.
He was also able to woo any lady he thought worthy of his charms and was a perfect gentleman when, after falling through a roof into a bedroom, he was faced with a young damsel with her collarbones exposed. It's possible that lesser men feel certain urges at the sight of such a fine neckline, but not Mr Dabangg. His finest party piece however, which would only be possible in India, was to kill the main bad guy using tractor exhaust fumes. A moment of pure genius…
In Bollywood films there's also often an "item song." This song has absolutely nothing to do with the film and is instead just a chance for a bit of a singalong and for the men in the audience to continue the whooping and cheering as a sexy Bollyood bellydancer belts out a Hindi classic to the beats.
But despite the howling males, Indian cinema is a place for the whole family. There were grannies, toddlers, new born babies and even a couple of birds in the expansive auditorium enjoying the hero-led tale. And, halfway through the 3-hour odyssey, a 20 minute interval is provided where 500 numb bums can stock up on popcorn, coke, samosas and chai (Indian masala tea). Thus everyone is catered for.
As for the inside cake aspect, the cinema had an ornate 1920's feel about it, although the carpets may have been there since the British Raj, and the lighting was either a soft green or yellow which, I suppose, would be Indian cakey. We would probably be classified as the topping as, yet again, our white skinned glamour status meant that we were filmed by locals with their phones. And on that note, if the person who filmed me dribbling coke down my chin is reading this, I would like to see that video...