May 29, 2007

Cinema Last

The mushrooming multiplexes in the country are a result of a chain reaction initiated by Mr. Ajay Bijli of the PVR chain. Amongst many ‘firsts’ this chain was the unparalleled leader in exhibition business of cinemas. PVR proudly claims that for them ‘cinema first’.

Please visit one of their halls to experience anything but that.

Let’s start with the very first thing one does in order to watch film- book tickets. If have you ever tried the option of Internet booking on PVR’s website you’d notice that they charge a ‘convenience fee’. They levy a ten rupees fee for booking the tickets online while I think that online book should be cheaper. So if 100 people book online per day that’s 1000 bucks a day, 30,000 a month and 3,60,000 a month! Wow! This is definitely a first.

OK once you brave the traffic, fight it out foe the parking spot and finally arrive at the cinema hall you are treated like the scum of this earth. In the name of security a guard will frisk you as if you the pole that he’s dancing to! They don’t allow you bags, cameras, laptops, etc. They don’t allow cigarettes, which is OK with me but if you are chewing gum they ask you to spit it out. They will make you empty your pockets and only allow cell phones and nothing else. I don’t blame Mr. Bijli for not visiting Adlabs or Fame in Bombay; they too frisk, check but allow normal things like handbags and laptops inside! I understand this being Delhi he can’t have his way as far as security is concerned but at least allow me to chew gum!

Every show will have at least three people who are in for a rude shock when they see someone else is already warming their seats. I can’t figure out why the hell do you need people to guide you to your seat, isn’t that printed and isn’t the hall well lit along the aisle for any idiot to find the seat? OK in spite of all this if you have someone to guide you why do they goof up!

When the lights fade out and the screen comes to life you are hit by some meaningless ads instead of the trailers or the ‘feature presentation.’ I know they need that money to run the fancy show, pay for the rentals but does Mr. Bijli intend to take all that money from me!? As it is he charges the heaven for the tickets… anyway they have four digits printed on the ticket called the show timing but who the hell worries about that little thingy? No film will ever start on time.

When the film finally starts you are in for yet another rude shock- the film’s print has been massacred by careful handling by the unique cinema lovers who work at PVR. I saw Spiderman-3 first day-second show; Shootout at Lokhandwala on the second day both the films had more scratches than a car crash survivor. For the money that they charge the least they can do is make sure that we don’t get third world treatment.

During interval you make a beeline for the ‘concession stand’ where you will get everything from candy to four types of overpriced sweet carbonated water, nachos, corn, Baskin Robbins ice-cream but you can’t get simple black coffee. Sorry sir the friggin machine only spurts out pre-mixed coffee! Some wise guy sued such places for cranking up the price and charging more than the printed MRP of bottled water so India Inc. got together and now charges the same exorbitant price by printing that as the MRP on a bottle specially packed for PVR. (whatever that means!)

Many moons ago Priya used to screen old films in addition to the current crop as part of some festival but now the more things change the more they remain same. There are a hundred screens in Delhi or Mumbai and they all are playing the same crap! Given a choice I still choose Priya over anything else for the sheer beauty of the cinema hall. I haven’t been a DT cinema till now and hope to keep it that way (old story, some other time!)

PVR has a bright future irrespective of the fact that they are at loggerheads with Yashraj Films. I like the way Mr. Bijli plans and I’m sure he has more than the four aces that life dealt him. They have come out with an IPO; they are getting in film production; industry grapevine reveals that Mr. Bijli and Mr. Aamir Khan have tied up to machao some major dhoom. People will need entertainment and will need places to beat the heat. So while your favorite blockbuster plays in an air-conditioned hall in the neighborhood, cinema can actually rue for being last on the priority list.

3 Responses to “Cinema Last”

  • I was hoping you'll also add - "..they didn't play the end titles..."; which is my favourite!!
  • Oops how could I forget that? It almost sounds like that line from some Van Halen song, "If there was one wish I couldn't refuse, I wouldn't know what to choose!"

    I also forgot that Diet Pepsi is not on sale anymore in any cinema hall; you might find it in it’s fountain version but not the can version as can’s printed MRP is way lower than the Specially Packed for PVR price!

    I think that happened to you twice? Didn’t it?
  • you have forgotten the kids coming for the A certificate Movies. why did they think of turning out a room as creche. with two or three maids and couple of toys, the parnts and the rest could watch the movies in peace.-kavita
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