Box-office delights

KARISHMA HASNAT writes about her experience as a cine-goer


I’ll need some information first

Just the basic facts

Can you show me where it hurts?’

– Pink Floyd

While listening to Floyd, you tend to get ideas… I have just reached home after watching a weekend movie, the experience of which has left me -‘comfortably numb’. I often feel this way stepping out of the theaters- for so many reasons, mostly unpleasant.

While at school, cinema halls used to be a treat for movie lovers. The long queue for tickets, sweaty palms, curious onlookers, the regular fist fights among the local hoodlums, the ‘dhinchak’ blacker, a few in school uniform virtually in adulthood, the cat-calls at the bombastic entry of hot females on screen and occasionally, a wannabe waving a shirt from some dark corner of the hall – it never was bothersome. Gallery was a place for like-minded people to enjoy ninety minutes of whatever was offered in the dark! But, times have changed and not always, for good. Bollywood has moved on, but cinema aficionados have remained loyal. Even today, they search for that comfortable place from where the projector behind throws silvery light on the big screen and a journey to the reel world begins, only to be cut short by sullied moments…

Everytime I take a nervous seat at some multiplex, I put up a reluctant smile to assure my senses it will be a smooth ride. As I try to be comfortable adjusting a corner of the red velvety seat space, I look around to see faces – of big people tagging small ones, of bright-eyed little ones, of good looking college-goers carrying popcorn buckets and the somewhat anxious elderly looking for the torch man. At times, funky shoes swing happily next to me while pretty heads of many sizes bob up and down in the front. From the sullen look on some faces, I know it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy – with every passing sequence, a new story is about to begin.

Even before the movie starts, some who had had a good time watching it before, whisper out loud a part of the script. Sadly, my ears are sharp enough to discern few words that tell a good deal of the story. And the only thing left to do then is to sit and match two versions. A brief silence, and there emerges another know-it-all, who goes on to impart filmistan knowledge for our ignorance. The twit irritates everyone who had simply come to watch some content on celluloid or their favourite actors on screen. I almost enter into a verbal duel, but end up being diplomatic. After all, he had done great homework to let us know what Bollywood is all about.

The story begins and everyone watches with rapt attention- ‘What next?’ always on their mind! And there breaks out the first peals of laughter at some comic sequence…We like it, but there are others who like it more and they laugh conspicuously enough for the rest three hundred seats to quiver. In another instance, I thought I would pass out, while my friend kept fanning the air with a handkerchief. A robust man with a paunch big enough to lay the table upon lifted an arm and for a moment, we were all fighting air-pollution – I struggled for breath, trapped and not knowing a way to escape torture. Phew!

When I watch a good movie, I laugh, cry, applaud and even whistle unlike some who take delight in kicking people seated front, behind or next to them – perhaps, all out of enjoyment. Then, we have this lecherous lot who come looking for fun – for them, every time at the theaters is like ‘Pinch-Bum’ day! On one such occasion, a hue and cry broke all concentration as security guards took away two men by their collars. A lady in her mid-forties cried out at the perverts for their seemingly failed attempt – The sight actually provided comic relief to a dull movie everyone was trying to watch.

The disturbance doesn’t end there…There are some who demand comfort to the last rupee paid and would want others to help them stretch tired legs, jolting the seats in front, twitching and turning  and forcing you to turn around and frown – only to find a quizzical expression on their face asking you, “Any problem?”

A popcorn flies from some corner and sticks to your hair, a kid jumps off his seat and lands next to you, late comers who push their way through – their rear end blocking all view…I bear it all for the sake of a good movie!

At the moment, as the loud cheer to Floyd’s encore fades away, I am ‘comfortably numb’ recalling some of these moments watching cinema, and at the same time looking forward to the box-office release next friday.

Karishma Hasnat

Karishma Hasnat

Karishma Hasnat is a journalist with a proven track record in print and broadcast media. She started with 'The Sentinel' in 2005 and had been associated with the regional television channel, News Live, for six years. A writer and an animal enthusiast, Hasnat has a keen interest in photography.