What is common between The Dark Knight and Inception? I am sure all you movie buffs are rolling your eyes while stating that both are masterpieces of Christopher Nolan. But, there is significance for me apart from the above trivia.
For someone who calls himself a movie buff, would you believe that I did not watch both the movies in cinemas? Unfortunately, none among my small circle of friends wanted to watch them in cinemas and I hadn’t discovered the bliss of going solo yet... Let me save that story for another day.
Today, I want to sing paeans about the movie-watching experience on the big screen in cinemas, or theatre, as my parents’ generation has often mistaken.
I am grateful to mom and dad for instilling the love of films. No matter what week of the month it was, dad never denied us the trip to a cinema. When we lived in Jayanagar, Puttanna/Poonam, Shanti, Urvashi and Pallavi were our regular haunts. We would stumble upon our relatives or neighbours during the intermission, while the dads bought soft drinks and popcorn.
The walk or auto ride back home would be all about discussing the story or the wonderful songs, especially if it was a Mani Ratnam classic. Mom was never one for animation and action movies. Though in the recent past, she has very much appreciated Up and Inside Out. As part of a father-son bonding, we watched The Lion King at Rex and Vertical Limit at Galaxy.
The former was so touching that I saw Mufasa in dad. Though my father was never a king, he commanded no less respect as he was a dynamic Union leader. He too enjoyed the movie with me as I raved about it all the way home by bus.
While in 10th grade, I was denied permission for a trip to Kerala. Dad offered to take me to Vertical Limit and make the entire weekend about the both of us. A day which started with a walk through Cubbon Park followed by a beautifully shot adventure movie, finally culminated with a visit to the Pizza Hut.
That was a huge treat for me indeed! If I hadn’t watched the movie on the big screen, I may not have liked it as much. As I grew in my teenage years, I was a huge fan of Shah Rukh Khan.
We had also moved further north in Bangalore. Thus, our cinematic haunts moved to Abhinay and Santhosh, in the appropriately named Majestic. The former had a dubious reputation of selling only a few tickets and leaving the rest for “black” category. Ahh yes, let me give a little perspective for the younger readers.
Those were the pre-Book My Show and pre-multiplex days. A movie watching experience would commence at least an hour before the show started as we had to purchase the tickets from the booth.
A “sold-out” board would hamper your weekend as you would have travelled 45 minutes to get to the cinemas and the ride back home would be forgettable at best. I am truly grateful to my parents because in all those years, I hardly ever came across a sold-out board before we purchased the tickets.
Kal Ho Naa Ho received wonderful reviews. We made our way to Abhinay only to find the ‘Sold Out’ board. As I mentioned earlier, the “black” tickets were available (no racism here). Dad was aghast when he heard the rates. Each ticket was priced at a princely sum of Rs 220! In those days, paying Rs 650 for tickets plus a dinner was too much. It is today as well, but the disposable income argument is defeating us.
Anyway, dad was crestfallen. He didn’t want to deliver the bad news but he asked if we could go home. I was adamant! It was a tough time for me and watching that movie was an escape. My dad too was surprised at my reaction.
My doting mother came to my rescue and insisted that we watch it. The movie eventually burnt a thousand-buck-hole in my father’s pocket... From Kal Ho Naa Ho to Chak De, I had matured, but Abhinay was still the same. So, we had to pay 1.5 times the ticket price.
I relented but dad didn’t want our weekend plans to be dashed. He swallowed his shock as we bought tickets and later discussed the movie in Sukh Sagar. I am sure he couldn’t swallow the Dahi Puri as easily as mom and I did. There are so many more movies we have watched in cinemas. Each visit has been an experience to savour.
Our visit to Urvashi would have us buy tasty cutlets during intermission. Post-movie, we would drop in at MTR for some evening snacks. We mostly watched good movies in cinemas. But on the odd occasion the movie wasn’t great, it would be quickly erased by some delicious snacks. Now, I am the earning member of my family.
I have never gone to the ticket booth an hour in advance to buy tickets. I have the BMS app on my phone and though it is a rip-off, I’m totally addicted to the laziness it harbours.
Every time we watch a movie, be it Baahubali or Saaho (yes we watched it in cinemas), I ensure that I buy coffee and popcorn for my parents. They have played a major role in not only me being a movie buff but also making a trip to the cinema an experience, virus and streaming platforms notwithstanding. It is time I offer them a similar experience now that I am in charge of the finances.
As Jackie Shroff says in Yaadein, “Baatein bhool jaati hain, yaadein yaad aati hain... (We forget the words but the memories remain).”
(Varun R Malavalli is a Copywriter who moonlights as a motivational speaker. He dreams of authoring a book, a Netflix show and a movie.)