OPINION

Watching "FIllums" in India Vs. the USA

June 06, 2006
kamla bhatt

I love watching Indian films, whether it is Hindi, Telugu, Kannada or Tamil (these are languages I understand). It can be a MGR, Rajnikant, Shoban Babu, NTR, Nageshwar Rao, Chiranjeevi, Govinda, Amitabh, Aamir or Shivaji Ganesan (lubber vai) film, and I am equally impartial.

I am very partial to Govinda, who I think is a shrewd businessman. Govinda cuts through all the noise and has got his "funda"right. It is all about entertainment. Don't expect a logical and rational storyline. Basically when you watch any Indian film, you have to leave the logical and rational side of you behind. Govinda's father was a film producer, and not a succesful one...so basically Govinda grew up with a father whose films were not successful. It left a deep scar in Govinda is my take.

I am partial to all genres of Indian films. The film has to be really bad (like Pyaare Mohan) for me to walk out of theatre or switch off the DVD player. I have watched films in various stages of completion: right from rushes to the final product. I have watched rushes of many film, that is films in their raw form minus editing, re-recording, dubbing and the final touches. I have watched finished products in preview theatres, and I have watched films on their opening day complete with the first day, first show thingie.

I have sat wonder stuck in theatres watching Rajnikant films with the fans going stir crazy. I have heard people make grand pronouncements right after a preview show and declare, "This film will run for 100 days or Silver Jubilee." Words that are meaningless in today's world. If people pronounced it is a "100 days" film that meant the distributor is probably going to get his money back. If the film is pronounced to be "Silver Jubilee" that means it will run for 25 weeks in theatres and the producer of the film has a good chance of making some money. By the way Producers of films seldom make any money.

I have watched films in different parts of India: Madras,Vijaywada, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Bombay and New Delhi. I have watched them in what "was" once considered to be cool theatres like the Safire and Emerald theatrs or Devi Cinema in Madras, or Priya in New Delhi, INOX in Mumbai or PVR in Bangalore. Never mind if I watch the film in Devi in Madras or Priya Cinema in New Delhi....it is almost always the same. It is always exciting to watch films in India. The whole experience is one of anticipation and expectation. Anticipation of the dialogues recited verbatim or ad nauseum by the crowd or the fans of the hero.

In India half the fun is watching the film in a theatre and anticipating how the crowd will react to the film.

Now, cut to the USA, the land of the brave and the home of the free. Watching films in a theatre in the USA is largely sterile experience. The $10 you pay for your ticket doesn't get you much in terms of the "thrill of watching the film on the first day." I have watched desi films in various parts of the country and can report that there is no difference in the experience.

The only difference I have discovered is in watching Tamil films in the San Francisco Bay area. This is when I have been able to recreate that familiar old feeling of watching a good old Indian film. For instance, I watched Rajni's "Padayapa" in a theatre in Milpitas and I felt right at home as though I was watching the film at Satyam. Devi or Anand in Madras . Here I was among hard-core Rajni fans who had abandoned their family and children for the evening to watch their suprerstar on silver screen. They identified totally with Rajni's character and knew where he was coming from. They felt his pain and happiness and recited his dialogs verbatim.

Many of us might not be in a position to catch new films in theatres in the USA. Often, we are reduced to renting a DVD or video from the nearest grocery store and watching the film at home. (By the way, the grocery store is the desi umblical cord to desh, wherever that might be in the South Asian sub-continent.) Many people in India might not be aware that the local Indian grocery store is our sole and tenuous connection to all things Indian: from the dal, chawal and aachar to renting the latest desi films of Aamir, Rajni and Mohanlal or buying the latest copy of India Today or Stardust.

For $2 dollars (Rs. 90) we can rent the latest and the greatest Indian film and watch it in the privacy of our home. Some of us have established elaborate rituals to watch our favorite desi films. We make pakoras and chai when we watch our favorite film, while others might trek down to the local theatre in San Jose, Milpitas, New York or Chicago and catch the latest desi film in a regular theatre (complete with a bad and stinky loo...why is it we can never have a really nice loo in these theatres?) I have yet to check out I the cinema theatre in Times Square in Manhattan and watch a desi film there. It is in my agenda of things to do.

I can honestly confess that there is no substitute to watching films in India. It is a whole different level of experience and one that I miss sorely when I am in the USA. When I am in India I make it a point to catch a couple of "fillums" in cinema theatres and have some rip-roaring fun.

Kamla Bhatt produces and hosts an Internet radio show http://kamlabhattshow.com. The show is also featured on http://www.podtech.net/indiatech/author/kamlab/ a Silicon Valley-based She blogs at http://kamlabhattshow.com/blog and http://ifyougoto.com, a travel blog. Life, People and Ideas is the underlying and unifying theme for her show and blogs.
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Watching "FIllums" in India Vs. the USA

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  • » Published on June 06, 2006
  • » Type: Opinion
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Author: kamla bhatt

 

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#1
Ritesh Maheshwari
URL
June 6, 2006
06:15 PM

Another good movie theatre in NYC is imaginasian. Just google about it. Good screen/sound/loo etc.. and they give student discounts! :)

#2
Kamla
URL
June 6, 2006
10:17 PM

Hey Ritesh:

Thanks for that tip...I will check it out. I wish I was eligible for student discount...maybe I should enroll in some class....

Thanks for reading,

Kamla

#3
temporal
URL
June 6, 2006
11:33 PM

Kamla:

aren't we all students of life?

refrained from commenting on the post - valid reason: don't go to theaters - here, there or anywhere - get headaches

ok , so it is a bahana that has served me well;)

#4
Kamla
URL
June 7, 2006
12:19 AM

Temporal:

Yes, we are students of life :-)

Sorry to hear you get headaches...yes, the sound can be quite deafening is some places....

But, bahana wahana chhodo...don't tell me you have missed out on "Rustam aur Sohrab," "Mughal-e-Azam," "Kagaaz ke Phool," or "Chalti ka naam ghadi,"...?

Kamla

#5
Indianarchie
URL
June 7, 2006
02:20 AM

Your article says that watching films in the two countries is different, but it doesnt point out how exactly the experience is different. For instance, is it that you miss the audience reaction to the films, or is it something else?

#6
Kamla
URL
June 7, 2006
02:26 AM

Hello Indianarchies:

Thanks for reading the post.

Here is something that I mentioned that you might have missed...

"The whole experience is one of anticipation and expectation. Anticipation of the dialogues recited verbatim or ad nauseum by the crowd or the fans of the hero.

In India half the fun is watching the film in a theatre and anticipating how the crowd will react to the film."

and in the USA:
"Watching films in a theatre in the USA is largely sterile experience. The $10 you pay for your ticket doesn't get you much in terms of the "thrill of watching the film on the first day."

Hope this helps.

Thanks,

kamla

#7
Sakshi
URL
June 7, 2006
06:33 AM

Well I actually enjoyed watching Hindi movies in Sydney Theatres. It was always amusing to see (most) Indians and Fiji Indians all decked up in their best attire and jwellery, since it were one of the few occassions where they could show off their...collected wealth.

Whereas in Mumbai city...people are so damn chilled out. We go at times even in our bed-time pyjamas for a philum at the cinemas. :)

#8
Desigirl
URL
June 7, 2006
08:39 AM

Hey Kamla,
It's the same here in UK as well. Unless we have a crowd of rowdy teenagers, the cinema hall is usually quiet. For Indian movies though, we usually have to go to the desified areas of London, like Ilford, Harrow, Wembley, Southall etc and here, it is as good as watching a film back at home. But I don't think the feeling you get is the same. Reading your post brought back memories of college days when I used to bunk classes and go to Sathyam with my friends. Devi is unforgettable for we saw Rangeela there.. *sigh* those were the days!!

#9
temporal
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June 7, 2006
09:04 AM

Kamla:

no...no bahanas...headaches... real ones...could be the smoke or pollution, bad air conditioning, filters, the blast of warm air that slaps the face as you come out, the leer and the jeer

add to above technology... i like to and go over some scenes again and again...that makes me (take your pick;)...a very irritable and irritating company...ask M!

alright...some bahanas:)

#10
Kamla
URL
June 7, 2006
10:56 AM

Sakshi: Interestingly enough the desi crowd in San Francisco consisted of Fiji Indians, and desis from South Asians ...it was not uncommon to see them decked to the hilt and display their collected wealth as you put it. This happened mostly when you went to watch Hindi films. In New York the crowd is different...there are a fair amount of West Indians along with desis...

Desigirl: Yes, I know that feeling...there is no action and know no dialogs recite....It's been ages since I went to Devi or Satyam...these were our favorite haunts for those rare Hindi films they used to show...for sometime there was a ban on Hindi films. We used to go Odeon, Casino and Saffire (which is no longer there) to watch Hindi films.

Temporal: Sorry to hear that you cannot watch in a theatre. It is the pollution...funnily I went through a phase in San Franciso where I had the same issues as you di.

Hope you do get to catch the films on DVDs.

Thanks all for stoppping by to read and share your thoughts.

Kamla

#11
temporal
URL
June 7, 2006
11:50 AM

saks:

movie date is off

pajamas, hunh!

#12
Desigirl
URL
June 7, 2006
12:02 PM

Kamla,
The atmosphere of a desi cinema hall vs that of a 'videshi' one - well, that stretches to most things abroad, doesn't it? When a group of desis get together, there is more madness, mayhem and colour in every aspect of life, I think. Be it at work, at play, at an outing - anywhere. Though my team here in UK, in which I am the only non-white, is really loud and boisterous, there is still a line you don't cross. That line could well mean really close friendship for us non-firengis (at least in my case it does!).

I felt the same when my family & I went on a European coach tour last month with an Indian tour operator. It was more like a college camping trip, than a grown up sightseeing tour, what with anthaksharis and tambolas every day and card games every night! In a direct contrast, a friend went on a day trip to Oxford and she said that she was even afraid to sneeze, lest she disturb everyone else!

Sakshi,
Pyjamas and movies eh? Sounds tres cozy!!!

#13
deleted
June 7, 2006
09:15 PM

[edited]

#14
Sakshi
URL
June 8, 2006
01:02 AM

Temp and Desigirl - Yaar, I didn't say that I wear pyjamas to the movie. Well to be frank, I did a couple of times but they were those late night movie marathons....you have to be comfortable, then na !!

#15
Kamla
URL
June 8, 2006
02:29 AM

Desigirl: Thanks for sharing your views about the desi/videshi experience. Like everything else there are pros and cons. A desi crowd can get very boisterous if you want some quiet time :-)

Temporal: It should read "Haaainnnn"' with a nasal Punjabi sound.. :-)

Sakshi: Thanks for the clarification...comfort is the key..

Thanks all...

Kamla

#16
Tanay
URL
June 9, 2006
11:14 AM

Hi Kamla,

Even though I am not a big movie fan in theatres, what you have mentioned is correct and true, When I was in Paris and Glasgow for sometime had been to few theatres but somehow didnt like the experience..

Moreso even if I go to PVR or Inox @ Bangalore, I miss the scent and the taste of the groundnuts and the jhaal murri. What you get instead is packaged in neat format popcorn and nuts and this and that..

Which one would you prefer ? I dont mind whether you factor the hygiene part to it, I like the roadside paani purri wala even today ,what's your say :-)

Rgds,
tanay

#17
Kamla
URL
June 9, 2006
11:26 AM

Hello Tanay:

Thanks for reading the post.

You put me in a spt here with your questions. I am not a big paani puri fan...never have been :-) Even good ole' Delhi failed to lure me and convert me into a pani puri fan. Now, if it is mithai....

Having said that...depends which class of theatre you choose to go at PVR (have not been to Inox yet in Blore...did'nt much care for the Bombay one)...it is not all that bad. But, tell you what...nothing beats watching a Hindi movie in Priya cinema in New Delhi (before the gentrification of that area) or Anand or Devi in Madras for a Tamil film...now, that is real action. I am in constant awe when I watch a Rajni or a Chiranjeevi film..

Hope I answered your questions.

Kamla

#18
temporal
URL
June 9, 2006
12:19 PM

kamla:

Temporal: It should read "Haaainnnn"' with a nasal Punjabi sound.. :-)

oofho, yeh kya baat hui?...i had alluded to sak's movie invite for M and i...when we visit india next...

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