June 13, 2006

Switched prices

One film I saw recently cost me Rs 89. For that price, I had to step through a metal detector, got patted down by a uniformed security man and had a hand-held detector waved cursorily over my front by another uniformed security man. Throughout the show, two or three mutts behind me chatted on their cellphones. And the theatre itself? Plush, lots of leg room, one of those generic multiplex places that are popping up like bad news.

The film was excellent. Only, the expletives were inexplicably whited-out. So several times, we heard stuff like: "You're a magnificent ****, aren't you, Miss White?", or "Where's my *** turban?"

Well, more like "You're a magnificent [silence], aren't you, Miss White?", and "Where's my [silence] turban?"

At the end of the film, yet another uniformed security man politely directed me away from the exit I was heading towards. "That one", he said, pointing across the hall. Outside, the soul-less emptiness of downtown Sunday morning, tall buildings all around.

Another film I saw recently cost me Rs 15. No security. I walked in, up to the steeply sloped balcony and sat right next to the railing. Curved screen set on a stage (this used to be a place for theatre), whirring fans hanging on long poles from the high ceiling. The place was fuller than the other, but there was general silence through the film, certainly no cellphone chatter. Not so much legroom, but hardly uncomfortable.

The film was some way short of excellent. A rerun from ten years ago, starring three major Bollywood stars in too-gaudy clothes, and one starlet wearing a nonstop smirk/simper so painful to watch that it nearly overshadowed her too-tight outfits.

After an hour of deafening music, execrable songs, meaningless plot sequences and horrifying acting -- in short, the usual thoroughly enjoyable Bollywood experience -- I left. I didn't feel like I would miss much. Yet nor did I feel that I had wasted my time.

Outside the hall, the theatre was a delight of airy space and open windows. And from each window, throbbing verdant life on the streets outside. Handcarts, traffic, people, lights, cafes, honking, movie posters ...

And a few days later, I'm thinking: if it's the total movie-going experience I'm paying for, those ticket prices should have been switched. Rs 15 for the expletive-free film in a soul-less neighbourhood, Rs 89 for the Bollywood nonsense in the splendid old theatre in the heart of Bombay.

PS: OK, the smirk/simper did not overshadow the too-tight outfits.

16 comments:

confused said...

Hi Dilip,

Three lines in your piece and I knew what the end would be. Why are ..ahem.. liberals so predictable? :)

Ok, here is the question? When we go to a movie, our primary purpose is to catch a movie, if that is not achieved, does the rest really matter? If not why would you pay 89 rs for the bad theatre?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Confused, did I say it was a bad theatre? I do recall using "splendid" and "delight", maybe you didn't read those?

Why are non-liberals such ... ahem ... poor readers?

confused said...

heh!

See, our focus was on internal envoironment of the theater, I mean when we are watching a movie, do we actually want to hear honking, traffic e.t.c? Maybe you enjoyed it because the movie was so bad and predictable? If it was a splendid movie playing, that same noise would have been interference.

Ok, ok, I know this is a matter of individual choice, so I will leave it at that.

btw, I do count myself as a liberal but not of the bleeding heart variety :) no offense!

Who do bleeding hearts don't have a sense of humor? :) Ok, I guess I have provoked you enough, now off.

Anonymous said...

You pay Rs 89 for whooly headed liberalism. The day terrorists start bombing those Rs 15 shantys, you'll shell out Rs 89 there too.

Dilip, BTW, how were toilets there in Rs 89 theatre? Or you still using free public toilets? BTW, your series on public toilets during Kargil war was just fantastic.

Dilip D'Souza said...

confused, confused, confused, you poor reader you! Do look for the phrase "general silence" in my piece. Do I complain about the honking and so forth during the film, old chum? Besides, do you catch me complaining about the quality and predictability of the film? It was "thoroughly enjoyable", remember that phrase?

Why don't we have a sense of humour? I'd attempt an answer, but I have no idea what "a sense of humour" is.

Neela said...

Dilip: I'm glad you had a nice time in the 15/- buck theatre. I've actually had the reverse experiences in the 15/- theatres which is why I'd rather not go alone (or even with another woman). Annoying as cellphone talkers in multiplexes are at least you feel SAFE there. You don't have to listen to random taporis singing lewd Hindi songs as you pass by or their attempts to brush past you and feel you up at every opportunity just because you wear jeans or skirts and have short hair. and you don't have to face their stares because you are a single woman who's come on her own to watch the movies.

There are many things nice with the old fashioned 15/- movie theatre. Alas, going as a single woman in urban India (from my experience) isn't one of them.

Regards

Neela

tejal said...

@Neela, Actually, i have had experiences that have been just the opposite. The men (i am talking about those who indulge in the kinds of things Neela speaks about) going to both kinds of theaters are equally horrible (rich men/poor men - doesnt make a difference). But there is a world of difference between the women going to these theatres. If one does get felt up (which happens often) the women in the Rs. 15 theatre will very happily help u beat up the guy responsible, or assist you if u are being harassed. In the Rs 89 theatre however, since the abuse is sophisticated, the women also turn a sophisticated blind eye toward any kind of molestation happening around them.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Actually I went to this Rs 15 place with a woman who is a regular there. She specifically pointed out the other women in the theatre, several clearly by themselves, and commented that this was one movie place in the area where these women feel safe; where in fact you'd find women at all.

In any case, it's just me: I found the Rs 15 experience more interesting, all said and done. I'll willingly go to both places again.

Anonymous said...

Tejal,

The men (i am talking about those who indulge in the kinds of things Neela speaks about) going to both kinds of theaters are equally horrible (rich men/poor men - doesnt make a difference).


We need reserved entrance, reserved exits and reserved seating for women in all theatres. Women ushers too. Ofcourse, when Naxal/Maoists take over, we'll have equal rights for all - right?

Neela said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neela said...

Tejal: Perhaps. But I didn't see any of those women come to my aid when I was being surreptitiously harassed in the non-multiplex theatre. In fact, I have to say that I have never faced any harassment in the multiplexes. Of course this could be just me.

We all have our anecdotes - you, me, Dilip. just goes to show that 15 buck theatres are better for some and worse for others! As long as both coexist though, we should all be happy!

Caveat: I'm a shameless multiplexer - find the movie watching experience much much better in soulless multiplexes (though the prices are outrageous!).

Regards

neela

Patrix said...

coincidentally, this post ties in perfectly with this week's Speak Up Question at DesiPundit.

Purushottam said...

@anonymous---We need reserved entrance, reserved exits and reserved seating for women in all theatres. Women ushers too.

and would that be your solution to eliminate sexual harassement/eve teasing of women?

how about respect for women and their liberties? given any thought to that?

Prerona said...

very nice post - i agree - miss the atmosphere of the old halls in the new cineplex

Anonymous said...

>>and would that be your solution to eliminate sexual harassement/eve teasing of women?


Now now, Puru, can you point to me as to where I have said ushers and reserved seatings will stop sexual harassement. If 50 years of reservations didn't cure "social injustice", gender based talibanic barricades in theatres hardly will, but WTF, why not try yet another hair-brained scheme? I'm just going with flow on Tejal's blog. And hearty 'lal-salam' to you too.

Anonymous said...

>>coincidentally, this post ties in perfectly with this week's Speak Up Question at DesiPundit.

Desipundit blog on this went up on Jun 11 and our Dilip-bhais blog followed coincidently on Jun 13 and he posted at our Desipundit blog on Jun 13 too. Too many coincidences?