India: Kerala #3: Bill Introduces Us To Ram
On our fourth day in town Bill introduced us to Ram and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Or was that Bill introduced us to Ram and our time in Kochi really started to rock... 'n' Rum? Either way, it was Tuesday January 13th and we decided to go see "Kill Bill Vol. 1" at a nearby cinema, just up the road from our hotel, not far from Jew Street.
But, as is generally the case when going to see a film at an Indian movie theater, this wasn't a purely relaxing and enjoyable movie-going experience. Now if there's anything moronic in this world - other than George W. of course - it's got to be cutting to the (totally unnecessary and extremely annoying) intermission mid-sentence, right in the middle of a very important scene, rather than at least waiting until the end of the scene 15 seconds later. Then there was the standard (in India) shutting off the movie and turning on all the house lights just 2 seconds after the final scene had ended, which fails to allow the few who care to at least see the director, writer, producer and cast credits and the even fewer (that'd be me and Son) who truly love movies and who want to listen to the music and see all the credits, including the music/song credits and the locations where the film was shot - both of which come at the very end, of course.
Well, we got up and immediately went to complain about both things to the 43-year old manager, but instead of having a fight we ended up totally hitting it off. This was The Only Guy In India Into Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Clash AND Richard Thompson. Hell, this guy even knew about Bruce Cockburn (even if he did call him "Cock - burn"!). I mean what are the chances of meeting a Bruce Cockburn fan in Kerala? A person who's never been to Canada or America. And it wasn't just music, he loved great films as well. Now this guy was different. This guy was special. This guy was Ram - yes, of Rum Rock 'n' Ram fame. As soon as we met him we started to complain about the movie, but he understood right away, offering us free tickets to come see it again. He then took us up to the projection room where he told our complaints directly to the projectionist. I then asked about the Elvis Costello that was playing and that's when we started into an hour-long (well, actually a 3.5-month long) conversation about music. At the end of our talk that afternoon he offered to burn some of his CDs for us and I told him we'd bring in the 50 CDs or so that we were carrying with us for him to burn whatever he wanted for himself.
And what about "Kill Bill Vol. 1"? Well, it had been great on VCD a couple of weeks earlier, but clearly it was meant to be seen on the big screen. And Ram's theater not only had a giant screen, it also had beautiful sound. And the sound was crucial because, right from the use of the song "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" over the opening credits, the music - like in all Tarantino films - was so amazing and such a vital part of the movie. And what a brilliant movie it was! I absolutely got it and loved it (though I know at least some critics didn't). From the music to the (often intentionally-bad) dialogue, to the incredible cinematography, to the far out fight scenes, to the humor, to the perfect cliff-hanger ending, it was all simply fantastic! Definitely not a film for everyone. Someone like my mom, for instance, would hate it. So different from his first 3 films, especially from his last, the relatively slow and quiet (and fantastic) "Jackie Brown".
So, definitely feeling that I'd like to see it again, I took Ram up on his offer and went one more time 2 days later; though Son, not feeling like watching it again for the third time in 3 weeks, decided not to come along. A movie's got to be pretty damn good to not seem boring when you're seeing it for the second time in 3 days and the third time in 3 weeks. And it was. Pretty damn good that is. In fact, it was once again simply fantastic!
And so that, my friends, is the story of how we were introduced to Ram by Bill, after which our time in Kerala would never be the same again. It was immediately Rock with Ram. The Rum would follow in due course.
Mike and Ram
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2004