Free me from guilt! This is my instant reaction every time I come across an opinion stating that the activity of exhibiting films in India may have been weakened by the sudden decision of some producers to release films on the OTT platform.
This lateral movement includes, in the Hindi language space, at least for now, Shoojit Sircar is much awaited Gulaabo Sitaabo and Vidya Balan Shakuntala Devi. It is likely that more will join the list in the coming months. Before we jump the gun and declare cinema as not worth our money because they do not support indie films or arthouses, let me reject that argument, as if from the comfort of an imaginary chaise lounge, the price is expensive.
Cinema is a business, calibrated to maximize profits, not brownie points to support closed artists or special films. The sooner you get past your bitterness about not having access to quality cinema, the better. That is what it is. That said, if you rule out reservations, theater is not the best way to watch quality films.
Before you see me on the internet to reject me as a crazy person, listen to me.
Cinema should never be a sign of quality cinema. Cinema is really a demand-supply business. Most sell what people want to buy. And people buy illusions easier than buying becomes reality. Like how expensive cola in the theater near you feels refreshing even though you will pretend to drink a lower-calorie version. In India, people flock to the cinema to escape their limited lives.
Cinema is not required or must be forced to incur financial losses for cultural gain.
I watched Newton in an empty theater in Pitampura on the day when all the performances Judwaa 2 playing in the next hall sold out. Unlike Varun Dhawan, don’t fool yourself anymore. My problem with theater is not what they show, but they are not even a convenient or pleasant way to watch movies. Most chains set the time for their show so that the person watching is sitting hungry or choking on a large popcorn tub that is likely to turn into intestinal spasms a nightmare when you get home. You hold urine, or risk ‘Uffed ‘ or ‘Kck kck’-ed by a stranger who immediately considers you a public enemy in that awkward moment.
An overactive bladder certainly has no place in the cinema. The hunt for Red October rather complicated compared to the hunt for the perfect chair, the next rush to reach on time, the danger of losing trailers that are not state secrets and the anxiety of breaking away with public rituals such as showing patriotism and exhibits of politeness. Not to mention the crippling fear of tripping and landing first to someone’s person. Compare all that with the comfort of your home, your time, your taste, your voice, your lighting sense, your basic bladder rights and you have quite a lot.
On a more serious note, most supporters of ‘theater are the right way to watch movies’ are people in the film business.
Exhibitors, of course, makers who want to see their work soar financially, and critics who without their VIPs qualify for press releases, are just ordinary people who have opinions. This collective lobby is for the theater experience, some for money, others for prestige. Makers and exhibitors don’t want to miss cash and critics don’t want to lose their exclusivity, their chance to be the first to see, and the first to be heard. What better way to freely distribute and make commodities (Don’t fool yourself anymore) than bring them home to consumers, where they can better see, engage, explore and enjoy? Especially, without having to feel the chills from watching a couple with a 2-year-old child slowly go up the stairs to an empty chair near you. Or without having to back down on the idea of watching with a group of men who seem to be trapped in a closed circle of puberty.
I haven’t even mentioned the finances yet, maybe you can watch more, maybe a month’s worth of content for the price of a single multiplex ticket. Include large popcorn, and mineral water that doesn’t exist outside the theater and you’ve headed for an easy big screen TV on EMI.
We do not hate paying. But that should not justify the medium. Add to that convenience, personal space and undeniable control over the volume of ringtones and forced maneuvers feel natural, maybe long. Theater will not be out of date, of course. People don’t want to just run away from their lives, but all that reminds them of that, including the sofa cum bed at home. But if the theater wants to pretend, by issuing statements to the public that they usually deceive, that this is about some ethical seesaw, then friends and enemies, we need to call them bluffing.
Issue Date: May 18, 2020 08:25
| Updated Date: May 18, 2020 08:49
Updated Date: May 18, 2020 08:49:18 IST
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