Usually I would be avoiding theatres like the plague now, waiting until next week or so when I can watch the movie without the excess chatter of first-day-first-show types who really aren’t interested in the movie so much as being able to say they’ve seen the movie. However, thanks in part to UTV’s extensive, news-channel heavy marketing campaign for their new film, and my father’s addiction to said news channels, I knew it would be inevitable that by midweek I would either overhear the entire plot (it’s a house where sound carries very well — I can hear the TV in the bathroom), or more likely it would be narrated to me by my excited parent.
Look, I’m a polite person, and I’ve even asked him — several times — to just not discuss anything about forthcoming movies with me, but still he persists, eyes wide like a five year old who’s just seen two of his teachers kissing behind the canteen, in rattling out the latest, juiciest gossip. He knows I don’t care who Abhishek Bachchan is supposed to be currently dating, so he likes to impress me with the latest he has gleaned about the movies I intend to watch. I can’t exactly punch him in the face when he’s driving down a highway at 120kph, can I?
I don’t like movie spoilers. This is why I never watch more than a teaser trailer for any film. I’m thankful that Indian films start off with a ten second teaser, then release a bunch of ‘song’ teasers leading up to its release, and only show ‘plot’ trailers about a week before, at which time I’m avoiding the TV anyway. I’m also thankful that none of the English theatres seem to show any theatrical trailers of movies I’m actually interested in (What? Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda don’t get along in Monster-in-Law? Nooo!).
With all this in mind, and prepared for a week of tense spoiler-avoidage, I was a little thankful that Candy had a sudden urge to go see the movie this past weekend. I was weary from the previous week’s Guestgiri, and nothing would have pleased me more than to watch a good Hindi movie. Still, I had a few reservations.
“We won’t get tickets,” I said. “It’s an Aamir Khan movie on the first non-working day since its release. No way, except maybe in one of the multiplexes, and that too we’ll get crappy seats and be surrounded by idiots*.”
*(okay, so this is the main reason I don’t go to Lamcy Plaza anymore, because — other than the smallness of the screen — there you’re always surrounded by idiots. I remember missing the first half hour of Parineeta because we had taken the last three available seats in the row and the guy next to me — who had come in 15 minutes late — was trying to convince me to scoot over a seat because someone of his was expected. I wasn’t going to scoot over into an already taken seat even though it was at the time empty. Ten minutes later the two from those empty seats show up and it turns out that they are with the annoying guy next to me, and in fact they had booked their tickets together but somehow left three seats in-between.
When we got to the theatre I decided to just throw caution to the wind and let my father get tickets. My god, it was as if someone had asked him to commit murder. I finally know where I get my jittery/nervous/deer-in-headlights response from (lucky for me I also inherited my mother’s Athena-meets-an-immovable-cosmic-constant expression, which works).
Somehow we managed to send the kids (i.e. my Dad and Candy’s mom) to get the tickets. The theatre was nearly booked up, but thankfully it was free seating. Another advantage of going to the multiplex, although the ticket price is higher, and I usually pick seats near the front which are always empty because apparently no self-respecting Indian wants to see a movie from a seat where the screen appears any bigger than his 21″ TV at home.
We actually had to queue up — this has never happened at a Multiplex and it was apparent from the expressions on the cinema staff that this was a new occurrence too. Baffled non-Indians passing by looked on, their extra-large popcorns trembling under the weight of a shattered world view. A packed theatre, with a queue… in Dubai!
While there was a large crowd in line ahead of us, they were good Indians and headed straight for the nosebleed section of the hall, smug grin announcing the fact that they had got prime, picture-skewing ‘corner seats’ (the other coveted position of the Indian filmgoer, if travelling in a couple). Candy, Samir and I headed for the first row past the central aisle, roughly 1/3 away from the screen. They’re great seats, look straight ahead at the screen with no skewing, and the only thing in front of you is a balustrade and the aisle, just the way I like it. It doesn’t have the drama of Stalls Row 18 at Regal or First Row Centre at Eros, but then, what pre-fab multiplex has? My father and Candy’s mom headed straight for nosebleed. We never saw them again.
The theatre filled up behind us, with only the fashionably late arriving with petite tubs of popcorn and cotton candy shuffling into the seats next to us, complaining that all the ‘good ones’ at the back were taken.
At this point the ads started up so thankfully all this chatter was drowned out by CineStar’s louder-than average sound (another good reason to go there. It was a little treble-heavy during Van Helsing, but when we watched Serenity the seats literally shook when ships passed by onscreen). Nancy Ajram’s ‘Coke fizz tickles my nose’ ad is as bleh as
ever. The other one with the woman trying to get her le parkeour on is slightly better, but still underdeveloped (the woman is supposed to be a real life music video director. What she’s doing swinging from chains while Nancy suffers coke fizz assault is a matter that must be looked into). The Dodge Charger ad is very black, steals equally from the trailer to Torque and a million different car commercials before it, and goes by in a blur of post-processed neutral grey-blue and forced rap ‘jingle’. What happened to the good old days, when Peugeot’s African arm was showing people pelting through the Congo doing dangerous stunts in a stock hatchback and getting a “Bravo, Jacques!” from the narrator?
On to the movie trailers (they showed English ones before the movie, and Hindi ones at intermission, but I’m grouping them together here). Ooh, the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie! Teaser trailer, so I don’t mind. Hmm, the producers seem to be playing the “Let’s make it even more like The Secret of Monkey Island!” game. I swear, Davy Jones even has LeChuck’s writing beard, only with postmodern hentai tentacle-sex references thrown in. It’s subtitled ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ at which point I was forced to utter, out loud and in full earshot of the decent, moral folk surrounding me, “Shaved or hairy?”
The sound of the next trailer starting up drowns out the screams.
Memoirs of a Geisha looked underwhelming when I saw the trailer on TV. On the big screen the same trailer looks gorgeous. I still don’t give two hoots about the story, but it has Michelle Yeoh, and I’m going to go see it just for her and the awesome cinematography. Next!
Oh look, it’s that blond guy who was in everything. Ooh, he’s threatening to kill someone’s girlfriend, but there’s a gun pointed to his head, and you almost feel like cheering for the guy — no, wait, wtf–aaaatomcruiseaaaaa! So, Mission Impossible Three looks a bit… generic. I can’t remember anything other than that opening monologue, and that Tom Cruise, fresh off impersonating James Bond in the first and Revlon Haircare products in the second (while doves flew in the background — do not forget the doves), is now some kind of hybrid of Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell, that dude from Syphon Filter, and every other black-ops/espionage/tactical/squad/stealth video game out there. Thankfully there were no overt Solid Snake references, unless the film opens with Cruise regurgitating a pack of cigs. You’d think that with JJ Abrams involved we’d at least get a Sidney Bristow-style cherry-red wig, but noooo…
The Hindi trailers were quite welcome, after that. Earlier I had no interest in Taxi No.9211, but the teaser trailer impressed me with its witty theme song (“sone ke sheher me sone ko jagah nahi” — sorry, the pun is untranslatable), the trailer’s lovely moving typography, and the fact that it’s produced by Ramesh Sippy and directed by Milan Luthria. You sold me a ticket, boys.
The teaser for Krrish, Rakesh Roshan’s sequel to Koi… Mil Gaya was next. Not only is it one of the first true sequels to a Hindi movie, but it’s a full-fledged superhero yarn, and I don’t recall any Hindi movie that’s tackled that well. The wirework looks nice, the cinematography bright and unusual, but the costume looks a bit iffy now. Still, I underestimated this team before when I went to see Krrish‘s prequel — came out pleasantly surprised — so I won’t understimate them again.
There was a very brief and quickly put-together teaser — well, it was more like a series of studio shots of the cast set to music and flat Flash graphics — for Priyadarshan’s next, Chup Chup Ke (I hope I got the name right; there are so many movies with variations on ‘chup’ and ‘ke’ that a boy is bound to be confoozled). It didn’t look particularly interesting. Rajpal Yadav behaving like Rajpal Yadav. Neha Dhupia doing… well, something. I can’t even remember who the hero is, but hey, it has Kareena Kapoor. Worth a rental on that basis alone, although cinema-sized Kareena — when they do her makeup right, like in Asoka and Yuva — is a wonder to behold (her new Pepsi ‘Cafe Chino’ ad is a wonder for all the wrong reasons, however).
On to the actual movie (um, I’m doing an actual review later, this is just all the peripheral stuff, that’s why it’s in Out-and-About rather than Review-o-Matic). The first thing you notice when watching a Hindi movie in a usually English/American movie heavy multiplex is the sound. It’s LOUD. An American movie is quite even and pretty quiet, with even the loudest volumes reserved only for the biggest of explosions and events. Not so in Hindi movies, where everything from the dialogue to the score — especially the score — is pumped up to the maximum. I remember Farhan Akhtar saying that when they were mixing Lakshya abroad they kept asking the sound guys to make
it louder, something they were a little apprehensive about. He told the sound engineer that if he didn’t put it higher people watching it in India would rip out the seats and throw them at the screen. Remember, we are the culture that screams into phones when it’s a long distance call.
The colours were magnificent and the print pin-sharp, and it being only the third day of screening there were no scratches. There was this sick feeling I had during the title song a half hour in when the AC3 cut out and the system fell back on the flatter, softer , but by no means less comprehensible optical stereo track for an extended period of time, but luckily it rectified itself and the rest was smooth sailing.
I waited through to the end of the credits (Indian film credits are pretty short anyway — we aren’t contractually obliged to thank everyone and their agent), but that was mainly to listen to the excellent song ‘Roobaroo‘ in full surround sound glory.
Outside another, even larger line was forming for the next show, and, quite overwhelmed by the movie I’d just seen, I staggered out into the throng of the mall, satisfied that come what may, no spoilers would wound me now.
On this note, stay away from most reviews of the film, as they are spoilerrific as hell. Taran Adarsh over at indiafm even gives away the ending! Blasphemy.
I’ll try to keep the review short. I could go on and on about numerous aspects of Rang De Basanti, but in short: it r0XX0red my b0XX0rz.