When I went to watch a Hindi movie

So on Wednesday I watched a Hindi movie in a theatre after a gap of a year and three months. The previous time too, Ashwin was with me, though the rest of the personnel were disjoint. Anuroop also joined us this time, before he embarks on a mission to sell phones in the seven hills. I had seen Baradwaj Rangan’s positive review of Jaane tu ya jaane na and wanted to see it. And given that there was no other half-decent movie around, we decided to go.

No tickets available in either PVR or Inox. Plenty available at Fame Lido. So I book online. It’s an extremely troublesome website. Thrice I book only to be told my ticket has not been booked. Then I book again (this time using IE – i normally use firefox) and to my horror, I find that two sets ( = six tickets) have been booked. And this bloody thing doesn’t even let you cancel tickets you’ve booked online. I put messages on the IIMB Message board, in my Google status and on Twitter offering to sell three tickets for a wednesday afternoon show of Jaane Tu … No takers.
We drive to the theatre hoping the show is sold out, which will allow us to sell the extra tickets in black. We are in luck – there is a house full signboard in front of the box office. We seem to be in better luck – the booking clerk tells us there was a mistake so only one set of tickets got booked. Relief. And yeah, I must mention here that unlike PVR’s excellent swipe-card system, here you’ve to stand in a small queue and face a human in order to get your pre-booked tickets.

We decide to explore the Lido Mall until the movie begins. We find it quite pathetic, and wonder where they get all the footfalls from. It’s a weird design. There are two small buildings, one contains the cinema halls and the food court. The other contains shops. I don’t know which bright guy got the idea to separate the two buildings. At least if they were together, people who visited the cinemas would also end up shopping at the malls.

Coming back to the mall, there doesn’t seem to be an “anchor store”. So it’s the adjoining theatre only that is driving footfalls, we presume. There are way too many dead ends. Too many random stores. And they are stores that can be found elsewhere in town also. Again we wonder about the wisdom of the builders. Then, we find that there is no escalator going down from the second floor. What a climbdown!

Anuroop decides we need some popcorn before the movie. We hit upon a combo offer that gives us two large packs of popcorn and two glasses of pepsi for some extraordinary amount. I’m reminded of Richard McKenzie’s book which I badly want to read. Then we realize we need one more pepsi. It says “medium: Rs. 50; large: Rs. 55”. I start thinking of McKenzie and Dan Ariely and the rest and start wondering what is the better option. I decide to take the extra 200 ml of pepsi for the extra five bucks. I look at it in terms of marginal cost and marginal “benefit” – benefit being defined in terms of extra pepsi.

The opening credits to the movie are great. Excellent visuals. Then the movie begins. There is some kind of disconnect as we watch it. We find the characters way too kiddish. We aren’t able to connect it. I had seen Dil Chahta Hai about seven years back with approximately the same company. I remember a couple of these guys saying even back then that it’s kinda kiddish, etc. I had absolutely loved it. I don’t know if it was because I first saw it at such a young age, but I still sit down and watch DCH whenever it plays on TV.

Jaane tu… is some kind of an even younger version of DCH. My take is that its appeal will be mostly to audiences just out of school. People who have just learnt what a crush is about, and who are trying to understand what romance is about. The kind of people who are currently going around singing Govinda songs in front of girls, as some of us used to do over ten years ago. The kind of people who would be bunking class for the first time in their lives to watch a movie – I’m sure these types are going to thoroughly enjoy the movie.

The problem is that we aren’t able to identify with any of the characters. Even as a twelve year old, I had completely empathised with Aamir Khan’s Munna in Rangeela. A couple of years later, it was Shah Rukh Khan’s Rahul in Dil to pagal hai, though I’m not sure if I would’ve liked that movie if I’d first watched it when I was in my mid-twenties. Over the years, in most of the movies I’ve watched and liked, I’ve managed to identify myself with one of the characters. Even in movies such as Omkaara and American Gangster, where I haven’t really managed to connect with any particular character, some kind of tautness in the plot has kept me interested and engrossed. Engrossed enough in the movie to not think of anything else at that time.

I won’t give a good rating for Jaane tu… since this I kept thinking of a number of other things during the movie. One of the benefits of watching a movie is that it enables you to in a way step out of your current life and think about something totally different for a while. When that doesn’t happen, it is definitely a letdown. As the movie wore on, we were getting more and more pained with it. I was forced to apologize during the interval for dragging these guys to this movie. This was the first time I’d followed Baradwaj Rangan’s advice and gone to see a movie. And there was no fit.

The thing with multiplexes is that they have different entry and exit points, and in the exit route, there are no loos. You can go to the loo before and during a movie, but not after it, which is when the pressure is at the zenith. We assumed there would be a loo in the food court below, but there was a power cut which had rendered the loo unusable. We got out of the building and ambled across to the mall in the light drizzle, hoping to find a loo there.

I have already commented about the bad design of the mall, but the position of the loo takes the cake. It is in one corner of the second floor, and the only way to get to it is to walk through the Pantaloon store. It was a matter of great relief as we finally managed to locate it, and we found that we were some sort of pioneers, hordes of people, presumably coming out of the movie, had followed us all the way to the loo. The Pantaloon store in which the loo is based need to revise their definition of footfalls, since most of it seems to occur on the way to the loo. What these guys need to understand is that most people on the way to the loo are in too much of a hurry to buy anything, and on the way back, there is way too much of a relieved feeling to look at the clothes.

I checked my credit card details online in order to find out if indeed only one set of tickets had been booked. To my horror, I found that I’ve been charged for the tickets THRICE. It seems like it will be a long battle with the Fame and ICICI guys, before I manage to get back my Rs. 900. I’ve written to customer care at fame, but don’t really know how to take this forward. Can someone put fundaes on this?

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