We are invited to an exhibition about Indian film legend Raj Kapoor, because the organiser is a friend of P and her mother's. It opens a season of his films showing at the cinema here.
I get a slightly surreal feeling as soon as we enter, brought on mainly by the intensely bright lights that shine from stands at various points on the way in. It only occurs to me later, as we are leaving, that they are there to illuminate passing celebrities for the sake of photographs and TV cameras. On the way in, we pass by an ongoing press conference to head straight into the main gallery room.
The exhibition is small but well put together, with many beautiful stills and publicity shots from Raj Kapoor's films together with original props and costumes, censors' certificates and so on. Though he was an enormously popular actor and film-maker his movies were often controversial; we see here a shocking on-screen kiss from the 1970s, an obviously sexy woman in a sheer top inside a temple, a scene of breastfeeding. Largely ignorant myself, I learn a lot from all this, and from P's additional explanations.
She points out a few quite big names from the Bengali film industry, and our host introduces us to a nonplussed Randhir Kapoor, the also-famous son of the man himself, as the daughter of actress Suchita Ray Chaudhury and her husband. He seems disappointingly unmoved by her exaggerated claim that I'm a big Raj Kapoor fan and know all the songs.
As I tell a TV interviewer who calls me over after a couple of minutes talking with P, I do actually know the refrain of one song from the one Raj Kapoor film I've seen most of - Mera Joota Hai Japani, from the excellent Shree 420. They get me to sing it for the camera, and I totally fluff the third line. It's terrible.
'But my red Russian hat' indeed.
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