THE SILVER SCREEN AFTER THE GOLDEN YEARS

Cinema has always had a significant place in my heart. It reminds me of all the good things in life, like celebrations, vacations and special treats of buttery popcorn. I belong to the 80s generation, when going for movies was a grand affair. We would patiently wait in haphazard groups outside the theatre. At the exact time, the heavy iron chain would be dropped off by the doorman and people would rush inside the heavily carpeted, split levelled movie hall, eager not to miss out on a single scene of the film. The ‘Balcony’ and the ‘Upper Stall’ area would house mostly families – big bellied men leading their pack of well-decked ladies and noisy children in tow. The ‘Lower Stall’ boasted of the most enthusiastic crowd consisting of mainly young, single lads. Based on the time slots, one could roughly judge the movie-goers. The evening shows were mostly family dominated. On the other hand, the morning ones were for those looking for an adrenaline rush by either bunking classes in college or going out on a date. The late night shows were for the nocturnal kind.
The much anticipated interval was incomplete without our standard order of unnaturally yellow and greasy popcorns and tall plastic glasses of cold drinks. We would enjoy our treat along with the rodents inhabiting the cinema hall. The end of the movie was always a miraculous escape, with hordes of people swarming inside the movie hall from one door; and another mob exiting from the other one.
As our generation bid adieu to the revolutionary 90s, the old cinemas also bade farewell to their former avatar. The world of multiplexes was born. Several movie halls under a common roof, elaborate menus, plush chairs, better sound quality – the movie experience had just gotten better!
My little toddler belongs to the swanky age of the malls. Her first movie-viewing experience was in a plush recliner seat, savouring a huge tub of popcorn prepared to a perfect hue of yellow. A dainty table lamp adorned the side of the recliner seat. Packs of canned juice and small water bottles were kept complimentary. Bless the PVR family! They even provided for a cosy blanket in the freezing theatre hall. After all, it’s not called a ‘movie-cation’ without reason! Unlike four fixed film shows in a day, multiplexes air the movie at different timings several times a day. So the end of a movie does not translate into a human stampede any more.
Even though times have changed tremendously, and for the better, one thing remains the same. After a movie, one always leaves with a story in heart. A story, specially a well told one, continues to live on and eventually become a part of us. The world of movies is indeed a magical one. It incites ones’ visual and acoustic senses and provides for an ultimate treat. So when I see my little one, eulogising ‘Mastani’ and swirling around in a scruffy piece of towel in the attempt of dancing like her – I see a little connoisseur of art. In the twinkle of her eyes, and the song in her step, a cinema lover is born yet again.