The day when affordable cinema died

The Author of the following post is my esteemed ex-roommate Sadanand Kamat. He continues to be either busy or plain lazy to create an account by himself and open a blog in his own name. And he came up with this totally awesome article about Multiplexes and cinema that I could not resist putting up here. So, with kind permission and full acknowledgment, here is the post by Sadanand Kamat:

There was a time in India where there were only single screen theatres. The ticket prices were one of the lowest in the world. Movies were affordable by everyone right from the auto driver to an investment banker. But, ever since the advent of multiplexes like PVR and INOX, ticket prices have inflated enormously and movies have become a luxury than a part of day to day entertainment. What surprises me the most that the supply demand theory doesn’t fit into this segment of the market. Let me explain. Yesterday, I decided to watch ‘Raajneeti’ the much hyped political thriller. I logged on to the net to check out where it was playing and obviously PVR was one of them. I was shocked to find that the ticket price was hefty Rs. 350 and only 4 seats were left. I showed PVR the middle finger in my mind and decided to download the movie from the net in a few days.

I get pissed off when people on television make statements like ‘Stop piracy. Watch movies in the theatre’. Well fuck you bitch – do I look like an idiot to watch that crappy 3 hour movie of yours paying Rs. 350 when I don’t make Rs. 100 an hour as a software engineer.

But then again I was getting so fucking bored sitting in my AC room doing nothing over the weekend that I decided to give it another shot. I remembered seeing a ‘Raajneeti’ poster in ‘Maratha Mandir’ on my way back from office that day. For, those of you who are not from Bombay, ‘Maratha Mandir’ is a very old theatre near Mahalaxmi that even to this day plays ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ on its screen. Just the thought that someone could be so passionate about a movie to play it even to this day makes you want to go to that theatre atleast once. So, I went to the theatre half an hour before the movie started and got a Balcony Ticket for Rs. 75. Can you believe it? Rs. 75 for the highest class of tickets available. The owner of the theatre could start online booking, paint the building, make the staff wear uniforms, serve burgers instead of Balaji chips and raise the price to Rs. 100 or Rs. 150 without affecting his revenues. But, then the whole point of having a movie theatre where everyone irrespective of their social class come and enjoy the movie experience would be lost. What is even more baffling is the theatre is really good. Good seats, excellent sound system, inexpensive food and a decent crowd.

I hate multiplexes. They have smaller screens, adopt variable pricing and excessively overcharge. People justify these shortcomings by saying that there is variety of movies that you can choose from in a multiplex. WTF kind of explanation is that? If I want to watch a particular movie, I bloody want to watch that movie only. I don’t care about the variety of crap available at the theatre. It is like saying I go to an underwear store because of the variety of sizes they have!

All this apart, by far the worst part about multiplexes is that they have created sub classes among people. People feel going to multiplexes is classier as compared to single screen theatres. And this is seen most rampantly when couples go to movies. Have you seen the number of couples in PVR. When I asked my brother why he doesn’t take out girls to movies he simply said that girls want you to take them to PVR and he couldn’t afford that. I totally agree with him. The girl who is more concerned about the elitism attached with the theatre rather than the movie experience, let alone your pocket is not worth it. She doesn’t realize that it is more fun to watch a movie like ‘Lagaan’ in a single screen when people started dancing when India won the match rather than go to PVR and stare at the screen for 3 hours. If you are a Bangalorean, think about the times you saw ‘Upendra’ or ‘A’ in a single screen theatre versus say seeing ‘Iron Man 2’ in PVR. Can you even compare the two?

The sad is part is that most of the single screen theatres today are being torn down to build shopping complexes and malls. Every mall that comes up will have more multiplexes, and will kill more single screens. There might come a day when the last single screen theatre is torn down and that day will probably be known as the ‘The day when affordable cinema died’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s