I was thinking of going to G-7 single screens.
G-7 isn’t a single screen–, H shook his head, –it’s a multiplex.
Just because they put 7 theatres together, doesn’t make it a multiplex.
Does too –
A few back & forth later we agreed to disagree. Bottom line – the cinemas were open again. And I wanted to catch a movie. H couldn’t be bothered either way. But that day onwards, my mind kept going back to the subject. The first lockdown had lifted & I was back at the theatres. I felt the itch. Could be any movie – I didn’t care.
I wanted to watch it in a single screen theatre, but that now was more of a pipe-dream. Even before the pandemic, single screens were suffering due to stiff competition from the multiplexes. Covid struck them a fatal body-blow. Many had now converted into banquet halls, conference halls & private screening spaces. I didn’t have much choice but look at multiplexes.
A more important problem, with all the working, writing & wheeling I was doing cropped up. Finding 2 hours to kill at a theatre hall was now at a premium.
This one time I was in town, a scheduled meeting got over way before time. Another got cancelled & I found myself with the time on hand. ‘Movie’ popped into my head; I took the mobile out, scrolled on a web browser & checked the theatres around. When I saw the ticket prices I almost threw up my breakfast. That’s when I realised, I was in the tony part of town.
I gave up the thought, got to the nearest mall. My feet soon found a coffee shop which surprise! had opened up next to a multiplex. Check it out – the words made my feet turn towards the ticket counter. I looked at the selection –
Latest BOND movie – started
Latest Marvel movie – starts too late
Hindi superstar movie – Don’t want see
Hindi web movie – Don’t want to see
KURUP – Malayalam movie – starts in 10 minutes.
Hmmn – This one I did want to watch. I asked the attendant –
Excuse me, the Malayalam movie what’s the price?
She took her time pronouncing the name all wrong. Then she told me the price. Like buying a gram of gold when the share market has collapsed!
Still, I may have considered if she hadn’t added –
But sir, they will be showing the Hindi version.
That ended any further discussion. No way was I watching a dubbed version & that too paying so much money. I made way to the coffee shop, sat there for 3 hours, ended up making the same bill as the goddamn ticket. But then I had three hours of writing to show for that.
Over the next weeks the thoughts did enter my mind – but work & travel kept me busy. Till again, last minute cancellation. Truth be told, I was a bit haggard, travelling back & forth from Dad’s house to town almost for a week on my bike. I decided to take it easy, had Chinese for lunch, then a little siesta, snuggled into my pillow & snoozed away the afternoon.
I fluttered my eyelids open to the name. on autopilot, still in bed found my mobile, downloaded book my show, scrolled cinemas near me. The movie showed up, decent prices too. One and a half hours till the show began. I could make this easy. I checked one more time making double sure it was Malayalam, not a dubbed version. Here goes nothing, I booked the ticket.
Time flew. One shower-banter-ride-mall later I reached the multiplex. Armed with my mobile I made my way in only to be stopped at the entry point by security.
Sir problem hai.
Problem?! Kya – What? That’s when I remembered- the 4 people minimum rule to screen a movie. There weren’t four?! Also, did I really check if this is in Hindi? Can they change your language if they don’t have enough people watching? Does Covid allow them to do that now. No- not now – not so CLOSSEE!
Sir, you have not downloaded your ticket.
The guards sudden statement made me awkward & embarrassed. I looked into the ticketing apps message all confused trying to figure out how to download the ticket. When the security guy took over. Feeling like a child or the unlettered I watched as he used his gloved hands to download the ticket the seat number appeared he scanned it & I let out a deep sigh. He laughed – I couldn’t see it behind his mask, but I heard it. automatically I laughed with him as he made way & I entered the hallowed space again.
Once I was in the sitting area that I realised I was a good twenty minutes early. I saw the seating arrangement – lots of round love seats. The kind where you can sit but not get too comfortable. Then I saw a couple sharing a love seat, more than comfortable. I made my way to a seat at a distance with mixed feelings.
I looked around – the place had some early evening activity. I sat down to play the game I invented. It’s called
‘Guess who else is going for the same movie as you’
The couple were definitely out – too northern features. Two-O clock, young girls in denims supervised by a youngish married couple, all in curves & right shades of brown – my movie definitely. At six, curly hair wife, half sleeve white shirt guy, little child in zebra coloured frock – dead giveaway. 12 behind, two men talking in Malayalam – another tick. My phone rang. Before I could pick up two thoughts ran in my head –
- My game was racist, casteist, sexist, in fact so many ists I stopped counting.
- We had crossed the minimum viewers required list of 4. The movie is on baby!!
It was M. I had not spoken to him for some time. M is a good friend, but at times can go on and on about his favourite sport – speed walking. Now he couldn’t go speed walking because he had the flu, because the roads near his house were under constructions, because his partner was stressed, because he was stressed. M kept talking, I responded in short bursts, looked at my watch – time. But how to cut M’s call? Wasn’t the kinda guy who would get it. Ads play before the movie – I said to myself. Then saw the sign, MENS – decided to use the loo. As soon as I entered, I couldn’t hear a thing M said.
Problem solved. No network. I sent a text message bad network & about to enter a meeting. I wish I could have added – ‘take your pick’ but wisely didn’t do that.
I entered the hall – dark & inviting. Inside I was like a panther, found my seats in the sparsely occupied theatre with ease. Right on time – just before the titles played. The movie started – I got lost in the wonderland – this time for good I hope 😊