IN A CINEMA HALL, LET THE FILM DO THE TALKING
What is it with people talking in cinema halls?! Is your partner/spouse/friend so dumb that you need to explain events to them? Are y’all even in an adult relationship? Can you stop being a parent to the infant in them? A film speaks to you. The best minds in a country are behind some of our films, specially the more intense ones that have something to say, Haider, for example. So get over yourself and your false sense of entitlement and listen to the film. Those 75 crores have gone into saying something to you. So listen. Don’t fool yourself with all this ‘Entertainment’ nonsense and lose out on the deeper goods. A film is an audio-visual interaction. AUDIO. VISUAL. And so when you disturb the audio, it’s as bad as me going and standing in front of the screen and blocking your view. You have bought a ticket yes, but so have I, and the minute you disturb either audio or visual you’re biting into my rights, and have overstepped yours. A coffee shop is for conversations. A cinema hall is for a conversation with a film where it talks and you listen and mull, feel. It isn’t a coincidence that a film hall is designed the way it is, dark, like a tunnel/cave that you go into away from your world, totally cut off from the world outside, it’s light, it’s sound, it’s colors pull you into the world of the film. Allow this to happen. Don’t be stupid enough to reduce what you can get from this delightful experience where you’re one with everyone else. The minute you talk it again becomes about you, where film can be such a collective experience. Nowadays it has become as if when there is a silent moment on screen you can hear a hundred conversations happening around you at various degrees of sound. Don’t shortchange yourself dear viewers and don’t shortchange me.
That phone call can wait a while unless someone is dying and you need to play savior. The people who need to contact you so urgently would respect that you have your own life, if you choose to respect it yourself. A film isn’t unlike a classroom where you enter and gain a lot, specially the good films, the deeper ones.
I sometimes wonder whether this isn’t the reaction to all those senseless films full of noise that we’ve been served time and again over the past few years, that we’ve grown unable to experience silences on screen now. We’re so used to loudness and noise that the minute it gets slightly quieter we feel this burning need to create some noise by opening our mouths to say the most inane things. We’re the same country that made Manthan a commercial hit, the same audiences that consumed films like Ardh Satya, Mirch Masala, Paar, Sparsh, Mandi, Hip Hip Hooray, Damul and so many more sensitive, deep, well written, well intentioned films. Then why now have we reached this space where we are unable to take in anything that makes us think and isn’t doing it with all guns blazing in terms of noise? Is it a generational thing? I wouldn’t like to think so because, at least I hope not. Or is it, coupled with a generation thing, an attention span thing?
And when it comes down to those who explain the film to their partners let me assure you that the film is well equipped to do that itself without your help. A film is designed, unlike this world, by a relatively intelligent mind, A Vishal Bhardwaj, an Imtiaz Ali etc. you can be sure, thought a lot about how information reaches you and your mind wouldn’t be able to compare with the background music, effects, acting, direction, and beautiful cinematography that’s trying to communicate the same thing to your companion, so allow him/her to get the information from the film in the way it was intentioned to be given. If you were meant to be the narrator you could have just narrated the film at home. A film requires a willing suspension of disbelief and each time you talk you’re pulling your companion and people around you away from this suspension and they realize that they’re in a theatre watching a fake world, which is exactly the opposite thing that the filmmaker has taken such pains to do. The film, all 75 crores of it, the production budget, the marketing budget has been invested to make you believe that this world actually exists and pull you into it. Your voice and this interaction will kill that very experience. Remember these things the next time you feel the uncontrollable urge to talk, to take a call or explain anything to your fumbling partner. Allow them to grow up a little, be a little patient and form an equation with the film and form your own too. For a film like life, can only give us as much as we’re going to take from it, so take those two steps towards a good film and it has already taken many painful ones towards you. Form that connection. Learn, enjoy, cry, laugh, and introspect later. In fact ideally a few moments of silence after a good film would give you so much more than any immediate interaction right after. Think about this. A film is a relationship waiting to happen. Open your mind to it, not your mouth.
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