Occasionally i love watching Bollywood in single screen old style. Like Regal. Or Sangam. Mostly theatres that are run down, have bad projection and an outdated sound system.
Here is where the actual test of a film can be done. You have nosy ushers who keep interrupting your view by insisting on checking tickets fifteen minutes into the show and late comers walking in half hour before interval. Someone behind you is explaining the story to his friend and laughing extra loud at the comedy because he loves Akshay Kumar. But in the end if the film turns out a bore, you haven't lost much out of your pocket.
However, this is becoming rare in Delhi since most of the older halls are being revamped (Rivoli, Odeon) or they simply are not interested in running the latest release.
In the last six months I have discovered a new fix. Each time I travel to a small town, come evening I end up catching a film show. Banaras, Haridwar, Meerut, Kanpur, Jaipur. (I know this is a more North Indian representation, but by next year I hope to include other places too) Watching film in these cities opened up a whole new world of audiences and their response to Hindi cinema.
Here is my list :
The best old style theatre : Rajmandir (Jaipur)
If you are in the city just catch a show for a view of the lobby. Its Huuuuuuuuuuge, garish, full of wall patterns in plaster of paris and very 70's. Shah Rukh should have premiered his OSO here! I went to watch Aajaa Nachle and during a song a man stood up and actually shouted I love you Madhuri ! The rest of the audience continued to watch as if nothing had happened.
The best Multiplex : Rave 3 (Kanpur)
A really well managed multiplex - good parking, food stall and great hall. PVR should learn something from them. But the film I watched was a dud - Dun a dun Goal - nothing could save a dead pan John Abraham
The funniest name : Victory Polo ( Jaipur)
The best behaved audience : Banaras
They managed to sit stone faced through Cash and filed out silently without cursing the director.
The best running commentary : Nishat (Meerut)
This guy behind us who had seen the film four or five times and had a problem with anything that Kareena did. He would keep abusing her or advising her or plain shouting at her. But he redeemed himself in the end by singing with her on Yeh Ishq Hai (in falsetto). Women please note. No metrosexual in Delhi could have done that in hall (we do sometimes sing in a female voice in our bathrooms though)
The seediest cinema hall : Chitra (Haridwar)
We were warned that there would be mosquitoes but the real danger was the hot coffees that were being carried by the vendor between the rows as he tripped on our legs. The seats were like school benches and every time a song started a speaker to our left roared blasting us into a desi version of surround sound.
Next year I plan to explore halls in other places (A friend tells me that there is a hall in Rohtak where fold able seats are lying outside for you to pick up and carry into the hall) and see the march of Bollywood in non metro India.