I'm thrilled my cinema hall will block chatterboxes who spoil movie experience

Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai — to begin with — is planning to have shows with a Do Not Disturb tag.

 |  3-minute read |   12-09-2017
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One of the most irritating aspects about watching a film in Chennai — or anywhere else in India — is the din and disturbance one's neighbours create. Many years ago, I still vividly remember how the shrill of a mobile telephone pierced the beauty and romance of an on-screen kiss. As the lips of the heroine parted and sought those of her lover, the jarring noise of a cellular instrument played the nasty spoilsport. A tender moment was lost, as people burst out laughing.

Indeed, one of the major impediments to an uninterrupted movie experience is the way people keep tinkering with the buttons of their little gadgets, but this often gets worse when they begin having loud conversations about the most inane of subjects. Sometimes, they talk shop - and all in the course of a film, drowning in the process the dialogues on the screen.

What is more, movies have become picnic spots with catering guys walking in and out of the auditoriums supplying all kinds of food. Believe me, it can also be a plate of hot biryani (as I have seen in a Chennai theatre), not to talk of steaming cups of coffee precariously passed over several heads!

Mind you, this distraction is not just confined to India. A friend of mine, a seasoned film critic in England, tells me that he finds it difficult to concentrate on the screen narrative when the men and women around him make it a point to crush their popcorn with the mightiest of sounds.

cinema690_091217074431.jpgMovies have become picnic spots with catering guys walking in and out of the auditoriums supplying all kinds of food.

Finally, I know what a chaos it is when an Ajith or a Rajinikanth movie opens - with the fans whistling and hooting and even dancing in the aisles of a theatre - in utter disregard to the sanctity of a public place.

However, the Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai - to begin with - is planning to have shows with a DND tag. Yes, Do Not Disturb your neighbours! Bhavesh Shah, who heads Experience at Sathyam, said the other day that soon they would offer a concept called "You and the Film".

He added that Sathyam had always been wondering why ace directors such as Mani Ratnam never trooped into their theatres. Obviously, they were irritated by the commotion. Certainly, this kind of misbehaviour by audiences was not what moviemakers had wanted. They aspired to create an ambiance where you will be alone with the film.

Yet, there was a time, as I was growing up in Kolkata, when some of the most celebrated directors such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and even Jean Renoir (when he was shooting The River) would often watch a movie in some of the most ordinary cinemas with some of the most ordinary viewers. They were such a well-behaved lot then!

But then I presume such times are coming back with the experiment which Sathyam is all set to embark upon. To begin with, a single show every day would enjoy the DND status, and an English film will be picked. No latecomers. No food to be served when the movie is running, and every effort to be made to ensure a disturbance-free viewing time. Those who break the rule will be shown the door, and maybe their ticket money would be refunded.

As much as I am happy that Sathyam is thinking of enhancing the movie experience, it seems incredulous that we as a society have become so inconsiderate to another man's comfort and privacy. After all many of us would want to hear what Madhavan is saying or Nitya Menen is - and not forced to listen to the boring chatter of a guy or a girl next to us holding on to a phone. How awfully rude that is, and how terrible it is that such behaviour has now become the norm rather than the exception.

Also read: Murder at Ryan International: Private education system needs abolishing


Gautaman Bhaskaran Gautaman Bhaskaran @gautamanb

The author is a writer, commentator and movie critic.

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