Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I have always liked going to a cinema hall for watching a movie. And that is very different from just watching movies. Movies can be watched on small screens of television or a PC or a laptop or even a mobile phone. What I am talking about has a screen at least thousand times bigger that that.

Being in the profession of movies by virtue of family business has its own advantages. I must have walked my first step into the big auditorium of Circle Cinema Nashik. And that was a just a tiny step!

I grew up with movies. Hindi first and mostly english since I started appreciating the art of cinema. I would just sneak inside the auditorium and watch any movie that would be playing from the row one, not to mention, for free.

Watching a movie is just one aspect. Then there is the ticket booking, projection system in the projection cabin, the bell-sound of cold-drink bottles in the intermission, the advertisement slides accompanied by Ameen Sayani style jingles and announcements, the excitement of the first-show-housefull board, the trailers of upcoming movies, the posters, the strong smell of the gum used to stick them, the painter who always came late to paint the name-time-captions on the posters, and so many other things...

In my junior college, I took electronics as the subject of choice. I was amazed my sound systems, acoustics and hi-fi stereo systems (I still am, by the way). I got my chance to attend a demonstration of Digital Theatre System (aka DTS) in one of the newest halls in Nashik, that was superb (read costly!). I always wanted to accompany my father when he went to Mumbai to book films for the next couple of months, and rarely did I get such chance. I guess I have done it only twice. The excitement when he returned from Mumbai would be tremendous. He would bring glossy posters, and occasionally some movie goodies. Boy, I loved them.

Sitting in the booking room and selling tickets is fun. Especially when there is a long queue. The excitement of closing the shutter when the show is sold out is unimaginable. Even the balcony-sold-out feeling is deeply satisfying. I try to do it when I visit home now, but hardly there is enough crowd to enjoy ticket-selling.

Since the multiplex-revolution, the business has been on decline. I guess it is a combined effect of multiplex, cable TV, easy availability of (pirated) VCD/DVDs etc etc. I don't like watching movies in a multiplex. All in all I have done it only for three times so far.

I like it when some 600-odd people are gathered in a huge auditorium, it's noisy out there, with some old jazz tune that goes unnoticed, and suddenly the lights go out, there is a huge cheer and noise mixed with whistles and catcalls, and the movie starts - signalled by a sharp bell-like sound. The whole crowd is involved in the movie. I remember Jurrasic Park, then Titanic and recently, The Matrix which attracted decent quantities.

The crowd should not only watch the movie but also live it as it unfolds. That's my definition of movie.

The difference between a huge auditorium and a posh multiplex can only be described by a comparison between a Darshini hot coffee and one that is served in a quiet five star hotel , in a silver cup, with the waiter expecting a huge tip!

I am missing Circle Theatre Experience for sure.

This article in today's The Hindu triggered my comments.

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