Tag: cinema theater

List: Dumb Things People Do in a Movie Theatre

people watching in movie theatre

I am currently attending the India edition of the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) in Mumbai and it is during one of the film screenings last day that I got the idea for this article. As the title suggests, there are dumb things that people do while they are watching a movie in complete darkness. And here I am going to list them out without much description.

  • Murmur
  • Take a photo of a shot in the film with a flash
  • Slide unlock their mobile (with the brightness usually higher than average)
  • Return a phone call after it has rung for a few long seconds
  • Make a phone call
  • Get up and leave*
  • Do something on their smartphone
  • Chew something
  • Get up before the end credits have finished rolling up
  • Stand in the aisle
  • Bring their kids who are clearly not interested in cinema
  • Take a selfie in the middle of a show
  • Laugh or clap more for than the accepted time span (the upper limit is 3 seconds unless you are at Cannes)
mobile flash taking picture movie theatre
Guess the criminals / © jonlarge/Creative Commons

I have to admit that *I have gotten up and left from quite a few movies because they were just too bad to endure but in film festivals this just happens a lot, especially if the entry is free. But there’s no reason why anyone would engage in any of these activities while watching a film. While I get why someone would want to take a photo of a scene in a film (for film Twitter, of course!) and I know they must have forgot to switch off the flash. But what I don’t understand is where is the sensitivity and common sense? Engaging in any of these just goes against the idea of going to the movies. One would rather binge-watch on Netflix at the comfort of their home if they also want to chat with their friend or munch on popcorn all at the same time. This is why we need stricter cinema theatre rules and regulations.

It surprises me more to see such type of behaviour even in film festivals where it is assumed that the audience is more serious and sensitive with the art and their fellow enthusiasts. But I think it is safe to assume that none of these festivals are secure from this type of dumb behavior from its patrons. Be it TIFF or Berlinale or MAMI.

Maybe I am dumb for having pointed them out and spent 30 minutes writing this stub. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Jake Hills/Unsplash

When I Run My Own Cinema Theatre…

rules and regulations of an ideal movie theatre

…I will officiate the following rules and restrictions. Patrons will be required to follow this cinema theatre etiquette charter and will be automatically agreeing to them as part of the ticket purchase.

  • Network jammers will be installed with a power radius of 300 meters to prevent mobile communication of any form inside and around the auditoriums.[1]According to the Indian Telegraph Act, the use of jammers by private establishments is illegal in the country. In special cases, an approval from the Cabinet Secretariat can be procured. Friendship with folks with political influence will then be put to use or the jammers will be installed and architecturally cloaked into invisibility during the construction of the theatre (Private entities can’t use jammers: Govt – Nivedita Mookerji, Business Standard, 17 July 2015) Patrons will be informed about this beforehand; heck even the tagline of the movie theatre will be: at Nair Talkies You Only Watch Movies
  • Show timings will be followed strictly. If a movie is scheduled to start at 8 PM, it will start at 8 PM. As in, the reel/copy supplied by the distributor will be switched ON, and lights will begin to dim
  • Auditorium doors will be closed ten minutes before the show timing. Latecomers will be sent back with a full refund (minus processing charges) or with a facility to reschedule their visit at no extra cost
  • Ushers will make sure patrons occupy their seats five minutes before the start of the show. Uncooperative persons will be shown the exit door without an alternative and without a refund
  • National anthem will not be played before a show; not even the 20-second shorter version or even if certain political outfits or moralists-activists threaten to vandalize my theatre or actually do it[2]According to the Union home ministry of India, “state governments have conveyed that at present there are no protocols on playing national anthem at public places.” Further, the Supreme Court of India in its 9 January 2018 verdict stated that it is up to the cinema hall owners to decide if they want to play the anthem or not. (National anthem in cinemas likely to stay ‘optional’ – Rahul Tripathi, The Economic Times, 19 June 2019)[3]I will decide not to play it.
  • No intervals regardless of the duration or type of the movie
  • Loo breaks will be discouraged and patrons will be strongly advised to make a visit before the start of the show. Emergency nature calls will be allowed but the names and Aadhaar card numbers of these people will be recorded in a database maintained and owned by the theatre. Three strikes will mean lifetime ban
  • There will be no canteen or cafeteria services but freestanding water fountains (mounted water dispensers) will be installed outside the auditorium entrance and exit gates and corridors
  • Complaints from patrons about other patrons (loud talking, snoring, obstructing the view, sexual activity) will be taken seriously and dealt in the same way as those taking loo breaks
  • Special couple seats will be designed (and located towards the end of the auditorium to keep prying eyes or the morality nazis from looking) to encourage platonic but silent and non-disruptive canoodling to heighten the movie-watching experience. Those involved in sexual acts will be warned but not banned because I understand and can confirm that sexual urge (i.e. the urge to procreate) is the second-most strongest human instinct (after that of survival)[4](It’s Normal! – page 112, Chapter 10 – Unsafe Sex (Sex and Illness), Dr. Mahinder Watsa, Penguin Books, 2015). Couples, regardless of their intentions, will be required to sit in these seats only unless all of the available ones are already occupied
  • People (kids) below the age of 13 years will not be allowed irrespective of the type of the film being screened. (If a child is turning 13 on the 20th of August he will be allowed to watch a movie in the theatre from the 20th)
  • No advertisements will be shown and instead movie trailers will be screened before a show. Trailers of Indian regional films will be preferably played over that of mainstream ones
  • Patrons will be mandated to enter the auditoriums freehand. They can choose to either safely dump their personal effects at the security or come directly without bringing anything other than their entry ticket (Film critics will be allowed to carry a pencil/pen and a paper). This essentially means mobile phones will not be allowed
  • All patrons will be frisked (by retired security professionals who have had at least three years of stint in airport security or in the immigration/customs department of India) before entering the building and the only things that will be allowed inside the auditoriums are listed below. Everything else will need to be dumped at the security and which can be collected after the show
    • the entry ticket
    • candies and toffees and mints not weighing more than 10 grams
    • water bottles
    • 3D glasses (depending upon the show)
  • Intoxication of any type will not be allowed inside the building; films without disclaimers will be encouraged
  • Patrons photographically caught littering will be permanently banned without preamble or the ability to contest it
  • Audio and video equalizers will be continuously moderated throughout a show. No show will run on preset or general settings of the entire auditorium, including that of the air conditioning, the humidifiers, and the ventilation
  • There will be no restrictions regarding clothes, footwear, and eyeglasses
movie end credits mandatory
All patrons will be required to sit through the end credits
  • All patrons will be mandated to sit through the entire end credits roll even when it’s not a Marvel movie so that they can sit and appreciate those behind the camera as well as cool down from the in-movie experience
  • The entire building will be friendly to all types of people above the age of 13 regardless of their physical capabilities or incapabilities
  • Theatre staff will be made up of people hired through a lenient recruitment process which will importantly not assess the candidates based on their sexual orientation, caste, religion, or the quality of their exposure to films. Freshers will be trained by me.

But since no one will come to this theatre due to the restrictions and it will be a loss-making enterprise altogether, there will be no such establishment opening till I suddenly become a billionaire with the ability to bankroll such an enterprise without additional capital support and political influence. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Karen Zhao/Unsplash

footnotes   [ + ]

1. According to the Indian Telegraph Act, the use of jammers by private establishments is illegal in the country. In special cases, an approval from the Cabinet Secretariat can be procured. Friendship with folks with political influence will then be put to use or the jammers will be installed and architecturally cloaked into invisibility during the construction of the theatre (Private entities can’t use jammers: Govt – Nivedita Mookerji, Business Standard, 17 July 2015)
2. According to the Union home ministry of India, “state governments have conveyed that at present there are no protocols on playing national anthem at public places.” Further, the Supreme Court of India in its 9 January 2018 verdict stated that it is up to the cinema hall owners to decide if they want to play the anthem or not. (National anthem in cinemas likely to stay ‘optional’ – Rahul Tripathi, The Economic Times, 19 June 2019)
3. I will decide not to play it.
4. (It’s Normal! – page 112, Chapter 10 – Unsafe Sex (Sex and Illness), Dr. Mahinder Watsa, Penguin Books, 2015)

Rethinking Movie Disclaimers

I was watching V A Shrikumar Menon’s Malayalam-language thriller Odiyan (2018) last day and I couldn’t help but think about the disclaimers that flashed on the screen. While I have noticed the disclaimer “Violence against women is punishable under law” in plenty of other recent films, it is only now that I thought about it in length.

I understand why there is a need to add that particular disclaimer (added to a scene where Prakash Raj’s character is forcibly holding Sreejaya Nair’s character’s jaw by his hand) – especially in today’s sensitive landscape where violence against women has shot up unnaturally – and how it satisfies and suggests the country’s various art control and regulation boards into believing that their job is done, but what stumps me is the singularity of it all. Why do we restrict the disclaimers to only certain elements? Why only women, cigarette smoking, and animals?

Why do we append these less-than-useless disclaimers in movies when we know that there are other bigger reasons that cause these very things that we are trying to eradicate? Why do we think that these disclaimers will have a considerable impact when no one even takes them seriously other than those who mandate it who, by the way, I’m told, often look at these disclaimers when they don’t have access to porn? 

Plus, we all know that not a single smoker has kicked the butt after watching that horrendously produced anti-smoking disclaimer, now starring Indian cricketer Rahul “The Wall” Dravid in the performance of his lifetime.

So, here’s a list of common disclaimers that we all have seen and got irritated by when at the movies and how they should be if we were living in an ideal world.

Movie Disclaimers in an Ideal World

If there is a need to add disclaimers in movies (restricted to Indian movies), I would love to see these versions over the current ones:

  • Not all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is not purely coincidental.
  • No one was harmed during the making of this film.
  • Culpable violence against all genders is punishable under law.
  • Smoking, much like living in a polluted city and other 87 acts, is injurious to health.
  • Intoxication is injurious to health.
  • Not following the rules underlined in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is punishable under law.

I know for a fact that as long as we are sensitive about art, this new edition of movie disclaimer texts will never be accepted. My future son already knows this. But I’m still hopeful.

What are some other disclaimers that takes the fun out of your movie-watching experience? Let me know and we will edit it a bit. TN.

Why I Am Always Late to the Movies These Days?

Some people who know me might think it’s because of my perennial habit of being late (to school, college, dates, and now even work). I assure you it’s not.

It’s because of two things, primarily. One, because of that redundant anti-smoking advertisement that takes you through the disadvantages and consequences of smoking. While we are subjected to that pointlessness only once – at the start – in Hindi films, in Malayalam films, they show it even before the start of the second half. You buy a medium-sized bucket of popcorn using the money you got after selling your house and now you start nibbling at it watching some folks crib about making some pretty bad life decisions. I am 100% sure that not one smoker who has watched these ads has kicked the butt because of them. But, then you would claim that such adverts have been appearing since Marco Polo immodestly wrote the description of the world. I agree to that point, but these days, it’s almost like a short feature film. It’s like to watch a 2-hour long movie, you have to watch another movie, and that too, featuring the Wall.

Secondly, and this one is important, the forceful patriotism. Yes, I have stood up countless times for the national anthem before a film, and still do whenever I am at an event and they play it. But, after the Supreme Court verdict, even my body refuses to give in to the newfound practice of forcing patriotism on people. Only a fool would go to a movie these days and not stand up during the national anthem. The better alternative is to just be late. (I’m sorry, fellow cinema-goers who have to shift in their seats to let me in.) Missing few intro scenes of a film is a lot better than having to consume your dose of entertainment with patriotism and righteousness forced into you by conservatives.

An acquaintance of mine has just stopped going to the movies since the SC verdict, but a cinema aficionado like me just cannot do that. Can I?

At The Movies With My Future Son

The year is 2025.

My wife has ditched me and instead gone to a girls-only party. A fanatic movie enthusiast that I am, I took my ten-year old son to the movies. Since 2015, I have never heard an offensive/objectionable word in a film, nor have I witnessed any glorification of bloodshed (a feature I instead witness daily at my home during the frequent, high-intensity fights with my wife) in them. For nudity, I often turn to my wife and she to me. Let me not talk about our extra marital affairs. Porn in the internet has lost its glory. The Indian government has banned my favorite websites, and the few ones that have the capability to run a proxy server demand my credit card details. To be precise, going to the movies is like going to an exhibition which displays everything polished, with fiction. Realism is nowhere to be found.

The film was a 90-minute crime drama titled “In The Glory.” I didn’t mind taking my pre-teen son for a crime drama movie, thanks to the responsible CBFC. I had grown much fond of the censor board for thoroughly regulating the films that these imbecile producers throw at us, and in fact, had even led me to follow their scrupulous way of handling things in the complex modern world. Once I even pulled off a Pahlaj Nihalani on my work group: what I did was slashed the salaries of all my juniors and then blamed it on my seniors, of which there were none. I told them, with the tongue firmly on my cheek, “This was not my decision. I have merely slashed your fat salaries on the command of our company Board which I also happen to be the Chairperson of. You will have to manage with this because, all this time you all have easily gotten away with a lot of objectionable behaviour by bending the guidelines. I cannot allow this anymore.”

The following is part of a duologue that occurred just seconds after we left the theater hall.

Tejas: So, what do you think? How was it?
Tejas Jr.: The hero’s intentions were not clear. What was he trying to say?
Tejas: I think he wanted to avenge the death of his virgin girlfriend. So he traces her murderer.
Tejas Jr.: Eh? Wait, what? What does a virgin mean? Besides, they never told us she was murdered.
Tejas: Virgin means a person who has never had an intercourse. I learned that when I was a child like you. I had gone to watch a romantic movie with my girlfriend. When this word was mentioned in the film with a proper but vulgar definition, I asked my girlfriend whether she was one? I never saw her again.
Tejas Jr.: You had a girlfriend?
I dismissed it to be a rhetoric question.
Tejas: The montage where they pixelated the body of his girlfriend clearly told us that she was murdered.
Tejas Jr.: Wrong! That montage was a fantasy-led dream the boy had after a date with her. Also, there was no blood.
Tejas: Oh please! We are not supposed to see blood or nudity. It is against our culture. I believe you did not get the message the movie wanted to convey.
Tejas Jr.: Oh yeah? You think you understood the movie?
Tejas: I understood it very well. I had seen it back in 2015 when it was known as Badlapur. This is estimately the 6300th film on the topic of revenge.
Tejas Jr.: Nonsense! Your puny mind has been exposed to too much violence, cuss words, and bloodshed through films. I cannot help it, and it will be few more years until you totally acclimatize yourself with the safe movies of our generation.
Tejas: Okay, okay. There is no need to shout. Just tell me, what do you think was the movie about?
Tejas Jr.: The movie was a safe drama about crime. Although, I still cannot figure out why it got an A certificate.
Tejas: Back in my time, this movie would have been banned.
Tejas Jr.: Why?
Tejas: Because, few minutes after the beginning credits, for a split-second, when the heroine adjusted her tee-shirt, I could see a part of her neck’s skin. Remember the time I shut your eyes with my palm? Beta, it is not safe for us to watch even a tad bit of nudity in films. It is against our culture, the great Indian culture.

As a film enthusiast, I am strongly against the latest guidelines that the CBFC has laid out, limiting the art of cinema as a craft. It does not make any sense in regulating a film’s language given that it is the most essential part of a motion picture. A film, with its story and themes, cannot stand as an art by itself if some of its integral parts are pruned off. Many National award winning films in the past have had to use strong language to convey a particular theme to its audience, and now, if the censor board members are going to behave like overprotective parents, then clearly there is no hope for growth in Indian cinema. Internationally, Indian celluloid will hold no respect. India is currently regarded a developed nation, and it should start following other free-world countries. USA, Australia, and even the UK have a peer-based review system when it comes to arts. And they rarely regulate a film based on sex and nudity. If they did, Lars von Trier would better shift to catering. So, why can’t India, where more than five hundred movies release in a year, have one? Yes, India’s folklore is a lot different from other countries, but limiting a film’s essential factors will only mean that the film will be less authentic. It directly threatens creativity.

This latest attempt of purging objectionable content from films is as nonsensical and immature as it sounds. Even though the idea that “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it” does not hold much strength, regulating language, nudity, sex, bloodshed, and other offensive materials will only mock the art of cinema. Indian cinema, which has braved so many things in the past, should not submit to the guidelines of a board which has lately been showing traits of fascism.

WATCH a countdown of the 15 Best Hindi Movies of 2015!

CBFC should be dissolved, and then will I even think of watching Fifty Shades of Grey in an Indian theater. That is, if I am even slightly impressed by the book, why, which I wonder, was not banned in the first place.