Monday, January 16, 2017

Indian Movie Theaters

We're planning our itinerary for another trip to India in and out of Mumbai. We got an excellent price on business class Emirates tickets and will be flying in comfort...not the extravaganza we experienced in first class, but very good.

Starting in Mumbai, we'll be traveling to Kolkata and then to Sikkim. We've seen major sights in Mumbai and this time, we're going to take a Bollywood tour and go to an Indian film. I've never been in an Indian movie theater but from what I read, it's lively, fun and very different from our theaters.

To begin, they play the national anthem and display the flag on the screen. The audience must stand in respect for the flag.

Indians dress up to go to the cinema—it's a place to see and be seen. Films are generally 3 to 3 1/2 hours long with an "interval" or intermission. The interval was originally for a reel change, no longer necessary. However, the audiences are used to getting a break and the snack bar revenue is important for the theater owners. The stories are written with a cliff-hanger at the interval so you are left wanting to come back and see what happens next. The two parts (before and after the interval) of a film may be completely different from each other. The first part may be a comedy and the second part a drama... all the same actor and characters, but with a different twist.

The audiences sit in either the balcony, dress circle or downstairs in the Ghandi class. Ghandi class is the lowest class, where all kinds of people choose to sit or stand, but mostly single men. It's the cheapest section and the most uninhibited. Those in the balcony enjoy watching (looking down) at the Ghandi class and see how the "boys" are reacting. Typically there'll be cat calls, booing, whistling and advice offered to the heroes and heroines. Indian audience often carry on a narrative with the film. Analysts refer to this as "interactive film viewing."
Inside Mumbai's largest theater. 

Socializing takes precedence over viewing the films. There's a continuous buzz of conversation in the audience including the sounds of kids laughing or crying. The idea of sitting, like a Western audience, passively experiencing the film, concentrating on every word would seem very strange to an Indian. Indian audiences select certain scenes to watch and will walk out if a certain part seems boring and think nothing of this. 

The film industry caters to a tremendous diversity of people in India. There are 100's of languages spoken and viewers are different in class, caste, religion, age, gender, education, social status.  Many of the films try to offer something to everyone — a tall order.  Called "masala" films, they're almost like a variety show. From Wiki:

Masala films of Indian cinema are those that mix genres in one work. Typically these films freely mix action, comedy, romance, and drama or melodrama. They tend to be musicals that include songs filmed in picturesque locations. The genre is named after the masala, a mixture of spices in Indian cuisine.

We were at an event the other day where everyone stood and pledged allegiance. I can't remember the last time we did this. Out of curiosity and piqued by the playing of the national anthem before films, I looked up the Indian pledge. 

Indian Pledge
India is my country.
All Indians are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country, and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion.
In their well being and prosperity alone lies my happiness.

No comments:

Post a Comment