Continuing our series of the joy of watching movies by our contributing columnist Ayush Mishra. You can find the first part here.
In those days, word of mouth publicity was the only real option for advertisement. The product had to be good. The public conscience was realising the difference between good and bad storytelling and therefore writing had to be good. The songs had to be good. The cast had to be good. Production quality was increasing with each year. The movies were discussed in schools, playgrounds, offices and parties. And one would heed to their friend’s advice and take a trip to nearby cinema.
The family trip to movie theaters was like excursions. There was excitement going in. There was anticipation of watching a Sunny Deol fight scene or some Govinda - Johnny Lever amazing chemistry of comedy or at least our favorite Shahrukh Khan doing some romancing around! And when we returned there was so much to tell our friends. So much discussion to be held.
By late 90's, even English movies were getting full release in whole country. And it was dream come true to watch one in theaters. People used to get frightened in theater watching Godzilla, hoping that it doesn’t jump out of the screen onto them! The advantage that English movies had over Hindi movies was that its great spectacle made people forget about its poor screenplay. The movies like Godzilla and James Bond’s The world is not enough, would bomb all over the world but get great reception in India.
The first time we heard that a ‘multiplex’ has opened in small town of Jamnagar, many innocent questions propped up. Multiplexes had many screens, and this one had 3. So, do we get to watch 3 movies at once? How do they fit 3 screens in one theater? Can we switch to other movies in intervals? We had to find out and what better one than Lakshya. It had enough emotional tug, mix of patriotism and action sequences to keep a 13 years old kid engaged. The lavish chairs and interiors, the digital screen and sound system, the sweet aroma was far cry from what we had seen till now. The 2 times of normal fare was justified.
Multiplexes finally brought down the curtains on low fare single screen theaters. But this multiplex era (post 90's) also brought down curtains on old school anticipation and excitement, especially for Hindi movies. With reviews coming in days before release, we decide the movie’s fate in our homes itself. The constant plugging in done by movie stars on TV and bandwidth these movies get for promotion on reality shows and news channels becomes an event greater than the movie itself. Which movie was it for which Shahrukh Khan went to Salman’s Bigg Boss?
Where do we go from here? In a 1990 interview, Steven Spielberg said that it would be very difficult for movie theaters to survive 90's. As VHS caught up the American public by end of 80's and started catching up in 90's in India, it was becoming prudent that people would surely prefer watching movies in the comfort of their homes rather than watching it several miles away in a dark theater. But re-invention is the key to survival of any technology. After single screen theaters, we have had 3D, multiplexes, and now IMAX 3D experience. These changes have infused new life in world of movie theaters whenever it was required. The kind of anticipation is not the same in multiplex era as it was in single screen era, but still the trailers get us to fill up the seats in dark theaters. Movie theaters are the place to give a large canvas to imagination of a creative lot for general public’s appetite. Hope it stays that way for long time to come!