Cinema Paradiso

Sometime very ordinary things make a big difference to your life. Small incidents become memories that don’t go away. Like your first crush some memories remain with you despite the passage of time making their original meaning completely irrelevant.

In my village Loliem, we were one of the first few people to get a television set. All was well till I was very small and the cable had not yet arrived in Goa. Then slowly cities started having cable service and we were left behind. It was very clear that my village will never get a cable service thanks to its sparse population. We could not afford to buy that big dish antenna and I was stuck with good old doordarshan.

Quality of DD was going to dogs day by day and I was upset. One day government decided to broadcast it’s DD Metro channel on VHF and I was very happy. I forced my father to invest some money in better quality antenna and it’s booster to improve signal reception. Thankfully he did listen to me and we worked hard to get the signal. It involved putting the antenna on even taller tree and adjusting it till we could get the picture.

Honestly, those few months were the most pleasurable television moments of my life. 9 Gold had partnered with DD and they were telecasting some of the finest television serials India had seen so far. Among them, one was “Director’s cut”. Some big shot and award winning directors were given an opportunity to direct a 2 hour tele-film. They also used some of the finest actors available such as Ashutosh Rana, Renuka Shahane, Rageshvari and so on.  One of the tele-film was “Jannat Talkies”. It features Milind Soman and other very powerful star-cast. Honestly I saw only the last few minutes of the show where they showed Milind Soman sitting alone in the theatre looking at Madhubala’s songs on the screen and crying.

That made a big impact on me. Till today I search”Jannat Talkies” on torrents and wherever else possible with a hope that I might find that tele film and relive those moments but only in vain.

It was by accident I stumbled upon the film “Cinema Paradiso”. It struck to me that “Jannat Talkies” is just translation of Cinema Paradiso and I felt that Jannat Talkies could have been a remake of Cinema Paradiso. I downloaded the movie and saw it.

I was completely blown away by the movie and my efforts to search for Jannat Talkies were greatly rewarded by fate. I always love movies that revolve around the theme of nostalgia, redemption and sacrifice. Cinema Paradiso’s main theme is nostalgia.

Story goes something like this.

Salvadore is a famous film-maker who returns home one night, his girlfriend tells him with sleepy eyes that his mother had called him up to tell that Alfredo was dead. Salvadore has not visited his village in last thirty years. He is afraid of any committed relationships. With this news however Salvadore goes into a flashback where he is a 10 year old kid known as Toto. In the post world war II, cinema halls are a novelty. People crowd to see movies. Those are black and white movies shown on a projector which is fed with a film made up of nitrocellulose which is a highly combustible substance. The local priest is always the first to watch all movies and orders that all love scenes be cut. Alfredo is the projectionist who has not kids and he loves Toto. He realizes that Toto is a smart kid and actually has a passion for movies.

One fateful day the film catches fire, the whole movie hall is burned down. Toto manages to save Alfredo but Alfredo is blinded. One person who made a fortune in lottery rebuilds the movie hall and appoints the 12 year old Toto as projectionist. Alfredo now tells Toto stories and wisdom which he mostly borrows from the movies he has seen. Toto grows up to become a young man and starts liking a girl Elena. He secretly shoots her while she is in school and so on. Alfredo gives Toto love advices.  He tells him a story.

Alfredo: Once upon a time, a king gave a feast. And there came the most beautiful princesses of the realm. Now, a soldier, who was standing guard, saw the king’s daughter go by. She was the most beautiful one, and he immediately fell in love with her. But what could a poor soldier do when it came to the daughter of the king? Well, finally, one day, he managed to meet her, and he told her that he could no longer live without her. The princess was so impressed by his strong feelings that she said to the soldier: “If you can wait 100 days and 100 nights under my balcony, then at the end of it, I shall be yours.” Damn! The soldier immediately went there and waited one day. And two days. And ten. And then twenty. And every evening, the princess looked out of her window, but he never moved. During rain, during wind, during snow, he was always there. The bird shat on his head, and the bees stung him, but he didn’t budge. After ninety nights, he had become all dried up, all white, and the tears streamed from his eyes. He couldn’t hold them back. He no longer had the strength to sleep. All that time, the princess watched him. And on the 99th night, the soldier stood up, took his chair, and went away.

Now dont ask me what it means and why he did that. (He gets up and walks away).

One day when Elena visits church for confession, old Alfredo keeps the priest busy in a hilarious way (He tells the priest that he has many doubts about the bible and questions many miracles. ). Toto gets into the confession chamber and speaks to Elena. Elena say’s that she find him nice but she doesn’t love him. Toto replies saying he will wait outside her house of 100 days. (Inspired by Alfredo’s story).

He actually waits outside her house for many days. On a new year’s day he waits till the midnight , the window opens , he closes his eyes and before he opens his eyes the window closes and no one comes out. He walks back. His wait however is rewarded as Elena comes to Cinema Paradiso and they kiss passionately. Toto has to enroll in compulsory military training, Elena promises that she will come to meet him at a particular time but she never comes. Toto join army and gets to know that Elena has left the town with her family and no one knows where. All the letters he writes for her are returned undelivered.

After his training Toto returns to the town and takes a walk with Alfredo on a beach where he explains Alfredo the meaning of the story he narrated.

In one more night, the princess would have been his. But she also could not possibly have kept her promise. And it would have been terrible. He would have died. This way, however, at least for 99 days, he was living under the illusion that she was there, waiting for him.

Alfredo tells Toto. Leave this town and chase your dreams. This place is not for you. Go, never come back and never think about us. Toto heeds the advice and takes it literally. He flies to Rome to become a great film maker.

Finally he returns for Alfredo’s funeral. Alfredo’s widow tells him that Alfredo very closely followed Salvatore’s success but not once he wanted him to come back. Salvatore’s mother requested Alfredo to call him back to village but he was furious. However he left a gift for Salvatore. That is a reel.

Salvatore visits the Cinema Paradiso which is now completely desserted. No one comes to watch movie and hence the owner and Salvatore’s old boss has sold it to the city administration. They demolish Cinema Paradiso before Salvatore’s eyes. Salvatore remembers the old faces. The hall manager, the local madman, regular movie visitor and so on. Before the demolition he visits the projection room and screen and so on.

When he visits his house he goes through all his stuff that his mother has carefully preserved. In that he find the first movie he ever made. That is of Elena. He apologizes to his mother but she is happy. She says his decision to leave was correct.

The movie ends when Salvatore goes back to Rome and sits in his private theater to watch the reel that Alfredo has left for him. It is a movie Alfredo made up by joining all those love scenes that the local priest has ordered to be censored. Salvatore breaks into tears and the movie ends.

In the expanded version of the movie we also get to know what happened to Elena. It is Alfredo who meets Elena and tells her that she should leave Toto and never meet him. He says she will hold him back and Toto will never be successful. It is for his good that she should leave him. She agrees but also leave her address with Alfredo just in case Toto does want to come back to her. Alfredo never gives that to Toto.

My thoughts

The movie caused a chaos of thoughts in my mind. Success needs sacrifice and many times we need to sacrifice our roots for that. We need to give up our village, parents and those who we love the most. But then, we can never really get strong enough to outgrow the nostalgia. It stays and it stays as a thorn and pierces your heart throughout your life. I can understand why Salvatore cries. But I can never understand what he will feel. While Alfredo’s advice made him successful, it was also responsible for the biggest loss that is of Elena. But then just like the princess in the story we never know if Elena could have stayed with him.

Nostalgia is my favorite feeling. I find it impossible to give up my old stuff. I have preserved my old textbooks and notebooks and not to mention all the stickers of cricket players. Each of them has a memory. Memories of days when I studied late night just to complete an assignment, fights  I had with other friends over the stickers and some notebooks I used to exchange notes with a certain girl and so on. These are like little memories that are locked in a deep chamber of my heart and each visit to that chambers costs me a lot emotionally.

My Cinema Paradiso will be the hostel in panaji where I used to live. It is now deserted, well almost. I make it a point to visit that place every time I go to Panaji. Each time I enter I feel as if Vividhbharati is playing. (We use to play radio 24×7). When I look at the table I remember the nights I spent there studying for engineering exams and so on. Soon that place is going to change and with that change all those memories will get a blow but I will simply move on.


16 thoughts on “Cinema Paradiso

  1. Nicely written Akshar. Your thoughts some what matches mine. I have also preserved some of mine textbooks, Di-section box n other college stuffs. and whenever I visit my home , I feel nostalgic when i see those stuffs. And its a complete different feeling which cant be expressed. You live in complete different world.

  2. Your post made me nostalgic and brought back some of the old memories I have cherished. The memories of those who scarified their life for my better future, the listening of vivdbharati, listening cricket commentary at night even after knowing that I had en exam next day which would decide my future, discussing with friends and so on…
    Emotionally it costs me too visiting the memory lane.

    Will definitely watch the movie.
    Any link to download Jannat Talkies?

  3. Thank you guys. Unfortunately Jannat Talkies is not available for download anywhere on the net. (Trust me I have spent the whole decade searching it).

  4. Like you, even I saw JT first and Cinema Paradiso a few years later…
    I think JT was mostly a ripoff…

    BTW do you know who was the director of JT & the other actors? It’s been a while & I do not seem to remember anybody other than Milind Soman…

  5. Very Nice writing brother, Jannat Talkies was very touchy story just like hare kaanch ki chudiya. I was also looking for them since long time but have not got any info on them. If you ever find them somewhere I would be interested to get them as well.

  6. thanks for this post, i also searched jt but no success, i have a cutting of jt from times of india i saw it and remember jt, its really touching
    saturday 8 pm on dd metro, directors cut, vikas desai’s jannat talkies
    the enchanting world of cinema comes magically alive for young tiku when he befriends homi hormusjee, the local elderly parsi projectionist at jannat talkies. take a walk down memory lane, as thirty years later, tiku now an accomplished director, re-learns the lessons of life through the magic of movies and comes to realise that both in cinema and in life, passion and integrity matter most.
    starring sorab adeshir, abhishek sharma and milind soman.
    producer and associate director: fahad saman
    sorry i wrote little long but i am having only this much information about jt
    i hope this would be helpful for you guys which i got from times of india add
    if you guys ever get video of jt please reply, thanks in advance.

  7. I am deeply thankful for your comment. Good to see that there are people out there who care about the same memories as I had.

  8. For some strange reason, i’ve had this movie at the back of my mind would use to search for it online often. Surprisingly stumbled upon your post today and more to my surprise I see that it has been inspired by another movie called “Cinema Paradiso”! Will definitely watch it now..

    Eventhough I just remember few scenes from the short movie (theater burning down, a kid crying), I still feel the emotional out pour I had experienced back then as a kid.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

  9. Jannat Talkies is a proper homage to the film. The film maker ‘Vikas Desai’ was very clear of this fact. A producer came to him and asked him to make a film and all he said was that if I make a film I’ll make a Cinema Paradiso once again and that is what he did! Vikas Desai was my professor in college, I love Jannat Talkies and the fact that a film maker loves a film to such an extent that he makes a remake of it and pays full justice! I am planning to get the film from him, I ask for his permission and maybe put it somewhere where who ever wishes to see it can do so.

    I love both the film. Jannat Talklies is more close to me coz I know the thought and the pure intentions that went behind making that film.

    I’ll try my best to make the film available for everyone 🙂
    Thank you 🙂


  11. Friends, this is by chance that I have visited this page. Jannat Talkies was telecasted twice on DD Metro. It was on 2nd screening that I have decided to record the film. But ironically, on the same very day, I received a postcard from my UK based friend informing me about “Cinema Paredaso”. But still I go ahead with my initial plan recorded the film on VHS and later converted into CD and not it is in the archives of our organisation “The People’s Voice”, based in Jalandhar (Punjab). The recording available is not very good quality due to VHS format as well as poor signal quality of the era. But the viewer can relish the movie. Please keep in touch with us at and also visit

  12. Hey people…3 telefilms of Directors Cut are available on Hotstar…I mailed them to upload more but they replied that uploads are based on viewership..As it generates revenue.
    So kindly enjoy and mail them or like it on FB..Do whatever you guys can.. Hopefully we can cherish those telefilms once again.

  13. Hi,
    I felt related while reading this article thoroughly. I saw this film (Jannat Talkies) on Doordarshan, maybe on the same day as you, and I loved it. I was almost approaching my teen age. And this film had two things that I cherish..Time and Cinema. I also came to know about Cinema Paradiso while searching for JT with no success. I saw CP just recently and I liked it, but would still prefer JT, just to visit that time. 🙂 Great reading you.

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