“Nooo, not another song!!”
(*Collective groan*) “Arre, yeh naach-gaana band bhi karo!”
Just two of the many such exclamations I overheard in the movie hall while watching Dreamgirls. Remember, this is a musical, a Broadway-inspired film about the fortunes of an R&B band of the 1960s, with many instances of characters singing the dialogue instead of speaking it during even the dramatic scenes. All this has been well advertised; anyone who had heard anything about the film, or seen even a short trailer, would have cottoned on. Yet here was a significant proportion of the audience protesting the musical segments. (Just to clarify, the protests weren’t about the quality of the songs but about their very existence.)
At the ticket counter earlier in the day, I watched with delight as a gaggle of young girls queued up for the Mayan-language tribal drama Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson; going by the excited murmurings, they thought the hunky actor was in the movie and happy hours of ogling lay ahead. Isn’t he’s old enough to be their granddad? Never mind – I had a good day just thinking about their expressions as the film unfolded. (Have I mentioned before that most viewers at Delhi’s multiplexes develop a nasty rash at the mere glimpse of a subtitle?)
Perhaps it’s my middle-class sensibility at work but I’m always gobsmacked by how eager people are to spend vast amounts of money on films that they have no idea about (here’s an earlier post about this phenomenon). But if you have to reveal yourself as a dimwit in public, at least avoid paying your own way for the experience. Take a cue from a former colleague who enthusiastically went for a preview screening of Brokeback Mountain, convinced – by a perfunctory glance at the brochure – that it was an epic love story, very traditional, in the Gone with the Wind mould. Her eyes were still wide with shock when she returned, her delicate heterosexual sensibilities having been ripped to shreds, but at least it was a press invite. Even the popcorn was free.