Sanima with my mama

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Last weekend, I found myself spending time with my mother. Which is to say, other than the time we spend living in the same house, breathing the same air and eating the same food, we spent some more time together. The eight-year-old me would be livid at the twenty five-year-old's version of how I see this, but the eight-year-old has seen ever so few Winters in comparison to the twenty-five-year-old person; we'll let her be.

Where was I? Yeah, spent time with my mother. Amongst the few things we agree upon, cinema going/flânerie is rated the highest. Despite that, it took her three weeks to nail me down on a Friday, where I convinced her that I would take the time to watch a film with her, in the next forty-eight hours.

Of her choice. As per her convenience.

Ever since I've started dealing with clients, my mother has started looking like a pleasant-er individual. You know, the kind you'd willingly take the time out for (I sound like an asshole and I won't do anything to change your opinion about me).

On Sunday afternoon, I was floating in a food coma on the twelfth floor of Princeton Estate. I had had one too many Limoncellos spiked with Vodka and Wasabi Prawns at Sinner's shiny new flat (which, btw is be-you-tea-full). All I truly wanted was to stay inside (even if it meant at Gurgaon) and not move an inch. You wouldn't want to either if you were getting hammered in the company of your old friend, and surrounded by food.

One of the things that I absolutely despise about human beings is being late, especially for films, breakfasts, gigs, and theatre. You could murder someone and get away but if you ever made the error of coming late for a film, your name would be etched in my hitlist. When I started from Gurgaon for the film at 6:30, Sinner was convinced, I wasn't going to make it.

"You and your mum are both going to be late. Are you sure you want to see the film? Just stay."

It took me all the bones and muscles in my body to say no, as much as I wanted to sleep on the floor (or bed). Sinner proceeded to drive me to the train station. At 80 kmph, she's pretty fucking amazing driver for a drunk individual. But then again, I don't know how Sinner is when she's sober. This entire friendship is forged on drinking and being together.

Before I proceed, I feel the need to explain the reluctance towards this "watching film" event. As someone who's on her way to a doctoral degree (ahah what?) in cinema, I've had my fair share of watching in the city. I can tell you which theatre offers the best washrooms, acoustics, seats, value for money and some such. I can tell you where the support staff lets you sneak in Matcha KitKat. However, there is no research that one needs when I say that you cannot enjoy a fucking film in peace.

Most people in Delhi/NCR are not aware of film watching etiquettes. You know, basic things like turning off their phone, not bringing their babies, not taking calls, not letting their babies cry during the climax, not discussing their ex on Facebook Messenger, not bringing children to an action film for an 11 pm show. You get the drift? I absolutely love the experience of watching a film on a giant screen. I completely despise the idea of sharing the experience with people and their babies.

I do not like babies. I do not understand the urgency to bring them to the theatre. If you want to watch a film, leave your toddler at home. If you want to watch your child, go elsewhere. Do not be that person who comes to the film screening with a cranky, curious kid. Leave them at home or leave yourself at home.

Similarly, if you want to diss a film/troll it, give the film 15 minutes before beginning your rant. I mean, if you start lynching a film from the appearance of the censor certificate, all the way till the end credits, I will only want to punch your nose because-

1) Let's face it, I'm the cinema scholar amongst the two of us. I hold the talking card.
2) I didn't pay half a grand to hear you talk during my time off.

People who feel obliged to talk to other people during films, families who want to discuss the characters and friends who would like point who's who from their respective group- please fuck yourself at a restaurant or an amusement park. Cinema watching is serious business.

Naturally, this is not my birthday party, where I issue out a set of FAQs and instructions before the commencement of it. This is a free country (at the time of writing this post, on paper) where people can do whatever they deem right. Which means, going to the cinema makes me cringe. It upsets me. It pisses me to no end.

Coming to Sunday evening, I hopped through train and public transport and called my mother at 7:30, from outside the mall. I was stuck in a jam and I wanted to react. The influence of alcohol did not allow me to hyperventilate. Instead, I tried enquiring the status.


I could hear some mumbling, which was incoherent. I assumed that's my signal to jump and run to the theatre. Instead, I walked leisurely, some kilometer or so, to hit the screen.

To my surprise, I was the last person to enter the theatre. Obnoxiously late, I judged myself and my questionable behaviour. Where were my cinema going etiquette list? I walked to my seat in the last row, nearly embarrassed. Trying to hide my tail between my legs, I crushed two old couples to make it.

"You're only 5 minutes late. It just started."

As much as it was a sigh of relief, I was upset for being that way. When did I become nouveau Delhi asshole who comes late for a film, crushing everyone in the row to make it to her seat and why am I so uninterested in sitting for this film.

An hour and a half of Mukti Bhawan (2017) changed that.

The average age of everyone inside the theatre added to be 54 years. They could either identify with the son, helping his father attain a peaceful death or with the father, willingly give control of his body to the universe. The beginning of an end, every bit of which is voluntary.

The film itself is pretty straighforward. It's made of little moments, each of which adds up to make it what it is. As a solid linear plot, it's very straight forward. Think of it like a chicken curry. You know the steps, you know the proportions. It's the ingredients that make each preparation of the chicken curry different. Your lemon based marination, will be different from my tomato gravy and it will be completely different from my father's pepper chicken curry. Mukti Bhawan, in that sense, is a compilation of several such recipes, each of which makes chicken, a winning dinner.

At some point, I have to say, I was at awe of the audience. Nobody got up in the middle of the film. No crying babies. No cell phone interruption or Facebook Messenger popping out during the film. Only everyone seriously glued to the screen for a little over hour and a half.

At the end of the film, the sense of getting out with my mother and spending that time was more than worth it. For one, there was no baby crying to the beat of the credit title and for the other, it's a pleasure to watch film with people who get you. Even better when that's everyone inside the theatre.

Meanwhile, here's a public apology for stepping late and crushing feet of several elderly people that day. I'm amazed at myself for coming late to a film.  

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