In the last 5-10 years many things have changed. I pads have replaced personal diaries, Hybrids are replacing engine propelled vehicles, facebook has replaced orkut, tattoos have replaced mehendi, railway online portal has replaced the long queue in railway reservation centers, restaurants have replaced dhabas and shopping malls have replaced city markets. This modernization has no doubt made our lives much simple and easier. But in a few cases it has also taken the fun out of it. One such change is the high rise multiplexes replacing our good old theaters.
The other day, while chatting with a group of friends, we all became very nostalgic over the time we used to go to the stand alone theaters in the city centers that could show not more than two movies at a time. Going to movies at the time was a total different experience. No online booking was possible. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to plan a day in advance and the next day you had to go to the theater atleast 2 hours before the show, to get the tickets. The queue at the ticket counter used to be as long as the local train. Being a girl or being with a girl was always advantageous as there used to be separate queue for girls and women and they were more often than not smaller than the boy’s queue. Off course some boy from another group could also approach you if you were a girl to request you to get a ticket for them as well. No matter how many watchmen were keeping a close watch over the ticket counter so that the ticketing process went on smoothly and that no one broke the queue, someone always broke the queue and the watchmen always had to rely on their long dandas (sticks) to control the crazy mob.
The ticket prices used to be one tenth of what we now pay in the PVRs or INOXs. In a minimum of 10 rupees, you could see the movie in a good enough seat. But off course if the person sitting infront of you was taller than you were, you were doomed. In you added another 10 rupee to your budget, you could get the BC (balcony) seats, which was the most majestic way of watching a movie in the theater and by the way they were literally the seats in the balcony of the theater, but with cushions. And if the movie was a blockbuster, and going houseful, you could always manage with an additional chair, you could place anywhere in the theater according to your fancy.
The overall excitement among the audience used to be huge. The entrance of the hero in the movie was celebrated with such energy and vigour, as though the hero himself had come to the town to do a live show. He was greeted with whistles, clapping and a general uproar from all age group of people watching the movie. And if it was an Amitabh or Shahrukh movie, well, you couldn’t hear the dialogues for the next minute because of the cacophony. The intense tragic scenes could also turn into a very light and comedy moment because of someone passing a stray comment followed by everyone having a good laugh at the joke. Such behaviour was not ridiculed or taken in a bad sense. It just transformed the solitary activity into a group activity, which was more or less a fun.
With all the globalization and developments and the improvement in the standard of living in India, people have also changed. People are now more sophisticated and care about others opinion. They are no more the carefree soul they used to be and won’t open up in public. They are very preoccupied with various other tensions in life to enjoy a movie with such merriment.
Guess it’s time we again start taking life as it comes, be lightheaded sometimes and enjoy the moment. Next time you go to the multiplex with your gang of friends for a movie, enjoy it with a light heart and whistle when you see the hero or the heroin, maybe others too miss the old theater experience and maybe they will join you too.