Going to the movies has been a vital element in urban culture. I lived in Mumbai as a young child and was taken by my parents to watch a few films a year. During summer, my cousins from Goa came to stay and the film outing became a gala event. Once I remember an older child in our apartment building (we called her Shilpa Akka) took us all to watch one of those Sridevi type family dramas in Hindmata, an iconic talkies movie hall in Mumbai.
Things changed drastically when multiplexes started out. As college kids, we stood for hours in a narrow long snake like line behind PVR Anupam in Saket to fight our way and procure tickets for Rs 7. Regular tickets were priced upwards of Rs 70 and were totally unaffordable for us. Before college, back during the Lucknow days, going to the movies was a luxury. We lived far out of town and there were a handful of theatres considered appropriate for girls from ‘good’ families! Sahu, Mayfair, Novelty, Pratibha- only these four. If you didn’t want to be prodded, ogled at, etc.
And then multiplexes mushroomed all over the country. Movie halls came to our doorstep, sometimes literally. And movie going became accepted among the urban middle classes as a more expensive (read upmarket) affair replete with goodies from the confectionary stall. Popcorn and coke combos entered our lives and menus kept expanding to give movie goers the experience of dining and being waited on while plonked on plush seats in front of a large screen with Dolby sound!
I’m a bit soft in the head today from watching two films in a day, do forgive me the wandering narrative! Chhota Bheem, the movie we took a whole kiddie gang to in the daytime was the expected horror. No nuances, no humorous, no variation in the storyline. Ugly unreal creatures and mumbo jumbo with Bheem fist fighting his way to hero hood once again.
The second film, Men in Black 3, was more of the same but far better made. Humour and technology saved that one, but nothing to write home about.
Clearly, the film and animation industry crave moronic kids and adults for whose pleasure they can continue to churn out this formulaic stuff. What we city dwellers wouldn’t do for a spot of entertainment!