The Woman in Red

In 1999, I was in the city of Indore, trying to be a graduate. It was a quiet little city in the heartland of Central India. It was “small town India” – it did not have a significant urban population.

During those days, there were no cinema halls in Indore where we could watch English movies. The best and closest we could experience Hollywood was at a movie hall called Neelkamal cinema – located in the old part of the city, near Malwa Mill. The movie hall, the building and the interiors were badly maintained and in shambles but it was the only movie theatre that played Hollywood movies, dubbed in Hindi.

We clung on to what we got because these were little joys that life had to offer. Watching a movie, in those days, used to be a long, delightful affair. Long, because we used to live outside the town and it was a long excursion to the city and the excitement that used to build up was hard to contain. Then, only the best movies used to make their way to the ragged old screen at Neelkamal.

One such movie was “The Matrix”.

Now, I won’t go into the whys and hows of how amazing a movie The Matrix was – I watched it about 4 times later and it had a cult following in years to come. The movie was such that I know people, myself included, who remember exact scenes of that movie, to this day. One such scene in that movie was the woman in the red dress – she comes out of nowhere when a bewildered Neo (Keanu Reeves –
he always has that expression, doesn’t he) is getting a guided tour of The Matrix. She smiles at Neo as she crosses him and as Neo looks back, the lady is transformed into an Agent who has his gun trained on Neo. You can read more about that scene and the woman here.

As the scene happens, the music playing in the background is Rob Dougan’s Clubbed to Death, an instrumental composition that is my favourite track from the movie. Together, with this music and the scene, this was (is) my favourite part of the movie. I used to watch that scene again and again, on dvd.

You may be wondering where I am going with all these long descriptions – of a small town movie theatre and a specific scene of a movie that I saw 18 years ago. Bear with me, please.

A few days ago I realized that the premise of that scene – my favourite scene of The Matrix, was merely a few meters behind my office in Sydney. I can tell you this – my world turned upside down. With joy, of course.

Such was my happiness that I went there, not once but twice, that day. I kept telling about it to everyone I met. While returning home from work, I went there with my earphones on, playing, what else, but “Clubbed to Death”. I walked that path, acting bewildered; acting, oh, so Neo.

I was then left with a sense of wonder that lingers on, even now. Back in 1999, in awe of that movie scene while trying to find the little joys of life, could I, 18 years old, ever imagine that one day I’ll be standing at the very place where Neo met the Woman in Red?

I promise you – not in my wildest dreams.

Life can take you far.

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