The first step into the imaginary ‘death trap with the virus hanging in the enclosed space’ made my heart skip a beat. The flight or fight mode was activated. Should I enter or not? I asked myself one last time and crossed the threshold to come upon the large screen.
After more than two years, I was revisiting a past haunt. This was how, the first movie in a theatre after a long gap, paved the way for this post.
A new taste, a new aroma
To begin with, the smell of fresh popcorn was intoxicating. In fact, it was ‘nostalgic’ to say the least. So far so good. My sense of smell was working fine. But wait, was it the smell of cheese popcorn, plain popcorn or some new variant? I had no intent of putting my sense of taste to test so I moved on cautiously.
The next step was the mandatory halt at the coffee counter. The aroma of our very own Nescafé coffee somehow seemed that of an exotic freshly brewed coffee from some far-off coffee estate. I quickly grabbed a large cup and armed thus, walked into the theatre.
Social distancing? What’s that?
As it is, I was truly overwhelmed to see so many new faces around me. Social distancing was not possible for obvious reasons and no one seemed to care. Honestly speaking, I felt like a ‘yogi’ stepping down from the Himalayas after a few years to find a changed post pandemic world!
With two masks stuck firmly on my face, I maneuvered my way with foggy glasses to the designated seat. I must have sat on my favourite seat so many times in the past, but on that day, it seemed different.
I glanced left and right, above and below, to ‘judge’ the crowd. Although I’d wished for three quarters of the hall to be empty, it was the opposite. I should have waited for the weekday morning show instead of rushing in for this weekend evening show. I added this point on my mental check list for posterity.
An overwhelming experience
Fast forward to the beginning of the movie. The first few moments where text and imagery kept scrolling were cool. And then, with a loud bang, the Dolby stereos made me jump out of my skin. Staying indoors or in safe zones, with calming music and remote-controlled audio touching my auditory senses, I had forgotten how loud it could be to watch a movie in the hall. It was like a new experience all over again as I waited to see what would come up next.
As is typical in Hindi movies, a poorly timed song flashed on the screen. Pat came a comment, “Can’t we fast forward it as in OTT streaming?” my daughter remarked. I looked at her with a look that read, “Really Navisha?”
But how could I blame her? Like me, she was also at the theatre after more than 24 long months. Thanks to the pandemic, movie watching had become a thing of the past.
Movies need to be seen in the theatre
Overall, the pandemic scare aside, it was a good experience to exit my shell and do something new. O should I say, “do something old.” Movies aren’t the same even if you watch them sitting in your favourite couch at home.
The best part was watching my favourite hero Akshay Kumar as a cop once again. Whatever my husband may say about him, ‘Akki’ looks good and can steal the show. He stood his ground even when other stalwarts made solid surprise entries, much to the amusement of the audience.
The biggest change in my small town was that the loudest cheers were invariably female voices. Thankfully, this change got absorbed in a new found silence. The men escorting them had perhaps finally learnt that it’s safer to let women have their way.
For me, the entire experience was more than simply watching a movie and rushing out before The End would splash across the screen. The rush to exit would always seem as though the hall was on fire. Needless to mention, I am looking forward to the next one releasing in the theatres. This time however, I shall remember to come by on a weekday morning show to avoid a packed auditorium .