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Bollywood Romance on the Big Screen

The line at the ticket booth for Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the new Yash Chopra filck, was already down the street when I arrived at the majestic Raj Mandir Cinema an hour before showtime. Luckily, that was the men's line; the separate women's line, which I quickly joined, was much shorter. When the ticket window opened I paid Rs 150 for a front row seat in the mezzanine. There is only one large screen at the Raj Mandir and crowds have been coming to watch Hindi movies on it since the theatre opened in 1976. Audience participation is de rigueur and the hooting and hollering from the main seating area drifted up to the mezzanine from the moment the opening credits began to roll. When the star of the movie, the beloved Shahrukh Khan, came on screen or delivered an especially powerful line the crowd roared with approval. The movie was 95% in Hindi but the beautiful cinematography, over the top action, singing and dancing helped me follow along and made all three hours of the film (not including the 20 minute intermission) engaging and fun.

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