Why moviegoing is no longer fun

Call me old-fashioned, but going to the movies isn’t the unalloyed joy it used to be. And that’s not only because the movies have regressed into banal themes, or because the market forces behave like angry pressure cookers nowadays. So, for this Sunday I’ll just point out a few perils of moviegoing today, starting of course with those...

SMOKING IS INJURIOUS TO HEALTH WARNINGS: Before every film kicks off, the grisly hectoring commences, scaring you more effectively than a Vikram Bhatt (sorry, make that Ram Gopal) horror flick. Besides the tacky visuals, a sepulchral voice drones on about a young man called Ramesh who couldn’t survive his tobacco addiction. Next: A hailstorm of the banners of various co-producers, plus the logos of hundreds of sponsors — radio, print, television, the works. Fine, the film is on at last, but after the intermission the voice-over and tacky visuals are repeated — just in case you’d come in late. Additionally, every scene showing a smoking man-woman-or-ash tray is imprinted with the “injurious” legend. Ben Afflek’s Argo was so riddled with these nicotine warnings… that it was howlarious.

3-D GLASSES: I wear glasses. To adjust another pair of spectacles on them is like performing a Gogia Pasha magic trick. Mostly I can’t. These glasses are either of a flimsy paper-plastic variety or faux metallic weighing more than a ton of bricks. Incidentally, an alarming but researched report has stated that at some ’plexes these specs aren’t cleaned and could lead to grievous eye infections. Ooh, I’d rather preserve my eyes actually.
Moreover, why does every second film have to be 3-D? The Great Gatsby was already as visually rich as pure ghee. No need to make it richer, like a halwah sprinkled with needless cashews, currants and almonds. As for Prabhu Deva’s ABCD: Anybody Can Dance, those acrobatic body moves certainly needed no enhancement. Neither did the resouped Titanic. Spider-Man, Iron Man, too, I’m sure would be as stunning in the good ole 35 gauge.

AUDITORIUM BLUES: Once inside the audi, I’m prepared for no leg room — as in the airlines’ cattle class. To stretch out, I can upgrade to the “special” lounges. But why burn a deeper hole in the pocket? In any case, acrimonious cellphone conversations are on even in the lounges. The most common cell-calls revolve around husband-and-wife quarrels. Then there are college girls assuring their moms that they aren’t doing anything naughty, and their boyfriends whisper, “Heh heh heh, you’re such a liar... mmm… love ya baby,” in the dark. Don’t need to hear this time and again, do I?

MINIMALIST FOYERS: Quite inhospitably, quite a few of the multiplexes are disdainful of seating arrangements. Like Mumbai’s Inox at Nariman Point. So if you’ve fetched up early, or the doors haven’t opened well after the announced show time, just stand-stand-stand. Have seen senior citizens suffer on account of these thoughtlessly designed foyers. Disturbingly, too, ’plexes no longer exhibit those wonderful film stills and foyer cards. In lieu there are cut-out standees which are never preserved (cumbersome to store even in a big godown). I worry for Osian’s film pix crusader Mark Tulli. What’ll he auction, come next decade?

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: A trade tracker swears that ticket rates have shot up by 1,000 per cent, if not more, after the ’plex invasion. Plus popcorn which could be crunched for `10 a pop is now vended at `100 a tub for salty, and `120 for caramel. Sweet? I honestly don’t think so.

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