Ms Tee went to watch Thor and came back bubbling like an active Volcano.
In India, if you’re planning to watch a movie at a cinema theatre, you are requested to leave your sense and sensibilities behind. No, I’m not talking about Krrish3 here- I’m too snobby for Hollywood rip-offs. I’m talking about the esteemed variety of movie goers that treats the theatre as their living hall and believes silence is meant for lambs. Since I am usually the silent one, trying her best not to combust with outrage at the manner-less of the manor born, I prefer turning into the observer surrounded by a halo of thought bubbles. Once you detach yourself from all things worldly, the ground becomes fertile for some Animal Planet-like observations.
Here I give my list of pathological behaviours seen in movie audiences-
1. The UPPERCASE variety
Their mobiles are like an extra appendage, or a buzzing tumour on their ear. There is the ‘mildly considerate’ type that will whisper into their phones like they are on their honeymoon. The most common strain of this pathology however presents itself as loud, self-important conversations. If cornered, they will shout out expletives and ask loudly if the offender knows who s/he is. Do not try and reason with them by asking them why they’ve even come to a movie hall if they aren’t going to actually watch one. They are stubborn and the only way to deal with them is to find a seat as far away from them as possible. Maybe hide their phone when they go for a bathroom break. Whatever works for you.
2. The Child on a Sugar High
The most common and by far the most annoying, they are the common cold of movie hall pathologies. They are present everywhere. I watched Black Swan accompanied by constant wailing. First, why would you even bring your infant to a movie as psychologically damaging as Black Swan? Second, this is INDIA: The land of domestic help. If you can leave your children in their care for the better part of the year, 2 hours should not be a problem. If you’re lucky, your local annoying child will only take laps of the entire hall. If 13 black cats have crossed your path, you’ll get a screamer. Fingers crossed.
3. The Canoodling Couple
Dark, air-conditioned, comfy: ideal conditions to get your freak on. Just one problem- there are a hundred-something other people in this space with you. I have no objections if you book those two corner seats in the back of the hall. They even call those seats “couple couches” in Odeon BIG Cinemas. However, if you sit in the 5th row, bang in the middle (no pun intended), you are asking to be pelted with popcorn. If you’re a gentleman, you’ll take her someplace nicer. If you’re a lady, you’ll insist he does.
4. The Unfriendly Neighbour
This is a miscellaneous category. There will be the nosy neighbour, who will creepily listen in on your conversations, the neighbour who takes your armrest (sort of like stealing your newspaper, only with more invasion of personal space). There is the one who texts throughout the movie, blinding you each time they take out their mobile phone (*ahem* my mum *ahem*). Feel free to add on.
5. The Navjyot Singh Sidhu + The Clueless Viewer
These two usually come in pairs, but not always. The first feels the need to give constant, completely unnecessary commentary. Aside from futilely attempting to explain plot points, they will comment on attire, appearance, give a detailed family history, insert anecdotes, and make very, very bad jokes (which they will then proceed to laugh at uncontrollably).
The Clueless Viewer has no idea what is going on throughout the film, begging the question of why they came to watch it in the first place. Most commonly seen in audiences of films adapted from books (believe me, I know. I watched all the Harry Potter films).
6. The Out-of-Context/Delayed Reaction
If you haven’t experienced it first-hand, you have most certainly heard it in the pirated copy of that one film you bought from Pallika or some random stall or a torrent website. No no no, don’t try denying it. Picture this- the protagonist has just confessed to the love of her life that she is dying. Tears are glistening in their eyes (and yours too. Don’t deny it, you big baby). Violins are playing in the distance. Suddenly, you hear jackal-like bark-laughter. The moment is broken. You can actually hear it shattering to pieces. A puppy somewhere has just died.
This list is certainly not definitive. We’ve all had unique movie hall experiences. Something about the dark, cavernous space brings out our most primal selves. Maybe it’s because they blur the lines between private and public spaces. A movie is something we enjoy in the comfort of our homes, on our couches, slouched in bed, covered in popcorn debris. To give an example of this affect: have you ever left a movie hall feeling a particular sense of compatriotism for your fellow movie-goers? This is particularly pronounced with a really mind-blowing film. You slowly rise from your seats, stare at each other; not needing words to explain what you feel. It is probably this vagueness of boundaries that may lead to extremely unreasonable behaviour from people who may otherwise be fairly rational (yeah I’m an optimist). Society conditions us to believe that one is expected to follow a certain code of conduct outside our homes. These rules break down in movie halls. With the way technology is progressing, I look forward to the movie halls of the future, and how behaviour changes (if at all). Till then, I will try becoming rich enough to buy a movie hall.