Saturday, March 17, 2007

Another movie-hall rant

“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.


  1. heh! and that is why i always watched a movie at shakuntalam.

    I used to love the crowd there. And the best bit, the way people new to that hall used to try taking snacks inside and are told politely but firmly by the guard that its not allowed.

    It amazed me that no body created an ugly scene and so many packets of chips went straight to the bin. :D

  2. Hope you blog about Apocalypto.

  3. hey. came here thru yore nagarkar entry.
    u mite like this place

    nice work, yours.

  4. ...and why should we not ogle older men? (or have I grown out of 'young girl' stage?)

  5. Agree with Neha - In the good old 90s, you didn't grumble too much even if the movie was trash coz it didnt cost you much. No longer possible in the PVR-era.

  6. People have issues with the existence of songs in Dreamgirls??
    That's rich! I bet these people watch all KJo movies without any issues! :-)

    Nice post and rant. My pet peeve is people who bring toddlers to movies with adult themes. How is it that it is always an Indian family?

  7. Dreamgirls, Showgirls, kya difference?
    What i am more intrigued by is the janta's reaction to the fact that this was almost 99% an African-American cast

  8. I cudn't read your blog, mom's calling me for breakfast. I 'll come back and read it. Today I'll have cornflakes and banana with milk.

  9. And that's why I always do at least a little bit of homework on the movie - to judge whetehr one shd burn a hole in ones pocket to view it or not! :p :)

  10. Oh, I do this all the time - paying to see movies that I know I'm going to hate anyway. I think the point about paying to see movies you know are bad is that it gives you a licence to grumbled and moan and its highly cathartic, like bitching about your workplace.

    My weakness is KJo movies. The last one we went to (that 3.5 hour thingie, can't remember, the extra-marital affair one) was a double whammy - not only did I pay but went for the late night show as well, so I was moaning well past 2 a.m.

    And as a friend said, if you don't see the bad movies, how will you tell the good ones?


  11. LOL about the group of girls eager to watch Apocalypto. I learned my lesson about taking members of the weak hearted fairer sex (full marks for political correctness?) to such graphic movies, when I went with a female friend to watch the same movie and we had to leave in 30 minutes as she threw up a couple of times in the restroom.

  12. Clearly you pay more attention to the audience sitting next to you than to the film.

  13. A similar experience, another movie window.

    Young mother, wide eyed cute kid in tow. To the ticket clerk.

    "Which is the new Mel Gibson movie?"

    The ticket clerk clueless (that another post altogether).

    I offer help waringly. "That would be Apocalypto. The new movie BY Mel Gibson. He doesn't star in it."

    And then I stick my neck in. "And you know, you really shouldn't be watching it. It is a bit too gory." And offer helpingly for the ahem, lurking feminists, "For her" (Pointing to the kid)