Last night I walked into the luxury theatre, Cinépolis at Viviana Mall, Thane to test how it fared in the multiplex business in Mumbai. The film I had planned with my mom to watch was a Malayalam language family drama Nagaravaridhi Naduvil Njan scheduled at 1910 hours in auditorium #9 of the ultra-convenient playhouse.
The auditorium was housefull. When the clock ticked 1915, people were back in their seats after having sung or pretended to have sung along the Siachen glacier edition of our National Anthem. As a series of statutory warnings started playing out in a language not Malayalam, both in text and audio, I glanced around. To my right, my mom looked like she was in a dungeon. To my left, an oldie was figuring the situation out. Warnings done, production and studio house logos done – I awaited the beginning credits to confirm my doubt that we had entered a wrong auditorium. When I overheard a lady next to my mom speak over phone in, again a language other than Malayalam, I got ready to scramble. After sharing the discovery with my mom, I looked around once again to see if there was anyone else who had possibly been dumb enough to enter a wrong audi. There wasn’t. As the credits started appearing in what looked like either Telugu or Kannada, I knew.
I scrambled out of the row and called out to my mom who still looked perplexed. My hope of not stepping on anyone’s feet while clambering out of the row was a failure. In fact, I had failed twice and the grunts from the victims were aggravated, maybe because they were enjoying the intro of the film of the language they understood. We walked out, and suddenly a crowd grew behind us. All sorts of people: adults, cute ladies, oldies, children, children, children, and usherers. I checked the display screen beside the auditorium entry and confirmed that we had, in fact, entered the right audi. The film reel was wrong.
Some men, who thought it right to stir the hornet’s nest by shouting, gathered around the multiplex manager. He tried to speak, but the clamouring was louder and more powerful. After a quick storm, the manager found what the matter was and gave few directions on his walkie-talkie. I tried to listen, and could only hear three words: “problem,” “malayalam,” and “telugu.” So it was a Telugu film – a romantic drama called “Chinnadana Nee Kosam.”
My mom asked me why it took time for others to notice there was something wrong with the film that was playing, and I told her about the lack of patience and abundance of observation skills that runs in our family, both sides. We followed majority of the crowd inside the auditorium and occupied our seats. No one knew why this majority re-entered the audi, but I guess it has something to do with human nature and history. People follow people.
As my mom started chatting with the lady who was talking in a different language over the phone earlier, I left my seat to learns the turn of events. Apparently, the manager had asked the patrons to wait for ten minutes, and the shouters were arguing about how the auditorium’s schedule was now going to get hampered. They argued that the 140-minute film was supposed to start at 1910 and the audi had a scheduled 10 o’clock show. They looked really worried about it.
Meanwhile I was successful in creating a theory about the whole situation. Cinépolis was the only theatre which had a show for the movie that day, which was a Thursday. As most movies follow Friday for their premiere, I theorised that Cinépolis may have had a listing error and they DO NOT actually possess the reel. The show was going to be cancelled, people would kick up a short-lived, ineffective revolt, a refund would be processed after 20 days, and if so, I would weep in my bedroom on the 21st day for having not received the reimbursement for the unnecessary Internet handling fee (around 11%) I had paid the autocratic BookMyShow.
Time was 1935 hours. After ten minutes, the manager climbed the stairs mid-way into the auditorium and requested us to wait for another ten minutes. He cited that the issue was petty and the operator had made a mistake. Upon a question from the audience about the show’s fate, the manager replied that they did have the reelbox and were waiting for a KDP (some sort of password) from the chief distributor. There were also some nimrods who demanded Rajkumar Hirani’s latest gimmick PK be played for the time we waited (the most outrageous request I have seen this year; and this post was written on?). These men also contribute to the camp of Malayalis I was earlier talking about. Unfortunately, my theory, like every other (conspiracy) theories in the world, didn’t materialize. Time was 1946 hours.
Few minutes later, I was taken aback to see a cart carrying Styrofoam-fuls of Coca Cola. The PR, evidently a maverick, had arranged for the refreshment for his distressed patrons. His savoir faire did not only nullify the complaints his audience had, but also forced them to visit Cinépolis again. Over 150 patrons were served, and some children were even served twice, as far as I observed. No one said another word again, and even after the show, there were smiles on people’s faces. Of course, they were not because of the film, but because few ounces of Coca Cola had made their day.
Personally, I think the gesture was convivial. While my mom wished they’d served popcorns instead, I wish more and more multiplexes put their patrons in the first place and not regard their enterprises as only a business machinery. Maybe the manager and Cinépolis acted because they were new in town, but at least they acted, and here I am, happy as a lark, writing about them.
Well, as far as the test goes, Cinépolis is definitely in the forefront among INOX and PVR Cinemas. BIG Cinemas and Cinemax need to catch up.