30 Dec 2007

i have a confession

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 Mostly theatres that are run down, have bad projection and an outdated sound system.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.


bhumi said...

yeah i remember watching kabhi khushi kabhi gum in khanapur, maharashtra during my dip project, for 60rs i got the best seats, plus samosas and frooti free, and also everytime kareena came on screen, all the guys yelled POOOO, and some of them danced too,

hriten said...

hii sudhesh
u missed dehradun..went there last year..this is what i xperianced:
-as no other theatre was opened in the area where my hotel was, went to a theatre which didnt have ny name outside..first shock

-outside the hall, big poster of kabhi alwida naa kehna..went inside ,(was a little late), sat and wondered y thr is no srk in the first 15 min,,then got d first shock of my life, another movie was playing and no guesses..movie's name : nayee padosan
-as 5 of us didnt had booze, we guys were thinkin to buy it after movie..somewhere close to interval, got second shock, a guy selling indian whiskey, glasses,water, coke..

and our drunk audiance. which i think didnt came to watch movie, neither did we

gautam chintamani said...

I once saw a flick at Sangam and someone actually took off his shirt and placed it neatly on the seat in fron of him! And if that wasn't enough he was sure that his wise crakcs could turn things around for an ill informed Abhishek Bachchan on screen.

Now a days the movies- both on and off screen- aren't half as exciting. PVR is more sanitized than my bathroom but still won't get the basics right---> how can people sit on the wrong seats! The 'concession stand' will have everything that your brain can think of- colas, juices, Nachos, Pop Corn, Sandwiches, Hot Dog (mustard missing in action) and what have you; in the near future you could even find escort agencies opening their stall there but you will not find sugar free coffee or tea.

How I'd love a cup of black coffee to save my film viewing experience...

manythoughts said...

Have you noticed how these small-town cinema halls play movies from the 80s and older, more than the latest hits? In Bhiwandi, on the outskirts of Mumbai, posters of Woh Kaun Thi (black-and-white, Manoj Kumar and Sadhna!) and Raja (Sanjay K-Madhuri)proclaimed the films were running this New Year's Eve. Even more surprisingly, from Thane to Wada, Bhojpuri films seem to be doing really well, in what is completely Maharashtrian territory.

Dineshenoy said...

I haven't watched a movie in any small towns of late. But I have beautiful memories of watching movies sitting in Gandhi class (front bench) by paying 25 paise in a small town in Karnataka in my early childhood. I also remember watching some popular movies by paying in black- say 80 paise for a 35 paise ticket!

In Delhi too I have some great experiences. I actually came out of Sangam cinema at interval while watching Zinda! Not because I didn't enjoy the movie, but y'know Zinda was already One stop under with blue filtered images and Sangam's screen, which is unchanged and unwashed for ages, was at least 2 stop under, so my eyes were aching badly!

I still watch movies in Regal. Even though it was refurbished a few years ago, the environment is the same as was before! You get tickets without seat numbers, the staff sell the tickets at black (Sattar ka Nabbe!) People arrive late and look for Torchwala (Abe kahaan gaya yeh torchwala!) They spit paan there itself and whistle loudly when the hero and heroine enters the frame! I also love the size and taste of the samosas!!

If you go to a multiplex, the movie has to be too good, or else you'll come out disappointed, but in Regal, no matter the quality of the movie, you come out with great experience:)