Nothing is open in Suva on Sundays — and, quite possibly — in all of Fiji. Nothing, that is, except the movie theater.


Movie patrons

Suva’s Village Six Cinema is located on Scott Street near the wharf. We walked past it as the weather became drizzling and dreary, so we decided to give it a try by buying tickets to whichever film happened to be playing next. The exterior showcased posters for movies including the latest James Bond flick, “SkyFall,” and a popular animated film, “Wreck-it Ralph,” so our options were surprisingly timely and mainstream. The next showing turned out to be “Jab Tak Hai Jaan,” a Bollywood film with a title I still can’t pronounce or translate.  For FJ$6.50 a ticket (that’s about $3.65 in U.S. dollars), however, we didn’t care. An usher showed us to our assigned seats. As far as I could tell, we were the only non-Indians in attendance.

Luckily, “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” came packaged with subtitles, so I can report on the storyline: An overly peppy Indian college student stumbles across the journal of a tough-as-nails Indian soldier (we know the soldier is tough thanks to a montage showing bombs exploding in his wake), and she reads about the days when he was young, carefree and juggling countless odd jobs in London. With the aid of several musical numbers, we learn our protagonist is hopelessly in love with a beautiful but betrothed rich girl he met while strumming his guitar and treating much of London’s population to a song about being “a lonely guy with no direction.” She teaches him how to speak like an English gent and he teaches her to sing a traditional Punjab song (something about allowing any “Mirza on a horse to abduct her.” I feel like I should Google “Mirza.”) They sing, they dance and there is an especially uplifting number in which rich girl, dressed in a short skirt and a Michael Jackson-esque red leather jacket, unlocks her “bad girl” side and boogies through the London underground. Then our protagonist gets hit by a car. I won’t spoil the ending for you other than to say it’s quite…long. In fact, an hour and a half in, when the singing had faded and there seemed to be some kind of mildly acceptable closure, Him and I stood to leave. Then we saw the “Intermission” sign flash across the screen. We were only half-way done.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

‘The first part was in London and now we’re going to India,” said a helpful, sari-clad woman seated next to us. “It’s the musical numbers. They make it longer.”

Another hour and a half passed before we reached the real ending. Yes, there were quite a few silly parts — like when the protagonist drives his motorcycle through a fountain, rich girl double-fisting champagne bottles behind him, but we both enjoyed our first Bollywood experience. Over Fiji Golds in Bad Dog Cafe and later O’Reilly’s Irish bar, we offered up helpful suggestions on how it could have been edited down to a more manageable length — while still preserving the 60 or so musical numbers. I’d even keep the London underground jungle fever sequence. That was hot.

The last thing I have to report about Sunday was meeting Brandon, the amiable manager of O’Reilly’s Bar. The Suva native sat with us at the bar most of the night, ordering his favorite Fijian brews and a pizza for us to try. In addition to the large pizza, we must have consumed at least four beers each. The bill was FJ$12.

*Note: I told a slight fib: Not everything is closed on Sundays. If you’re very lucky, you might just happen to be in Suva on the third Sunday of the month. On that day, the road besides the Republic of Cappuccino coffee shop is lined with locals and ex-pat Aussies and Kiwis selling baked goods, plants, jewelry and various nick-nacks. We happened to be lucky and stumbled across the market en route to the theater. I bought a sausage sandwich with “the works” and a thimble of juice (FJ$4) from the Suva Golden Oldies rugby team to help fund their upcoming match in Manila. Too bad we left Paper Sis rolled up at the hostel. The Aussie who built my wienie was quite cute, and contrary to the name, not an “oldie” by any reckoning.