Sleazy low grade Single Screens
These are the most unique cinema halls of India. They exist in every small town and city. The interesting part of this kind of place is that it is like a club, which only true film fans visit. Not that you need any exclusive membership but not everyone prefers these places. The audiences of these places mainly consist of true admirers of cinema; people who still have faith in the small time movies that go unnoticed. The films are mainly masterpieces of Mithun, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Rajnikanth and others, to which "A-grade audiences" have turned a blind eye, just because the films didn't seem "classy" by assumed standards. The audiences here are film enthusiasts and true fans of Bollywood films which include the taxi drivers, the truck drivers and cleaners, the factory workers, waiters and chefs of 'Shetty pure veg. restaurants' etc. They will make a point to watch every film that plays here. The movies screened at these film appreciation clubs are mainly what few smart asses term as 'B-grade movies'. It's so unfair to judge these films in negative light just because you can't appreciate the aesthetic value behind the skin show. These theatres are not for the hypocrites who go 'eeeeeewwwwwwww' on the sight of thunder thighs and big tummies of the unknown actresses. Instead, one needs to have that emotional depth and sense to grasp the deeper moral meanings behind the 'double meaning' lyrics, power dialogues, weird rape scenes and dancing in rain wearing white Chiffon sarees.
When you reach these theatres, you'll find painted film posters which are a rarity these days. The theatres set in small galis, touching the road side and resemble to an ashram from outside. The tickets cost merely Rs.5, 10 and 15 only. These places don't believe in divisions like balcony and stall, so the screening happens in a big hall packed with metal seats which have no cushions.
There's no strict numbering to seats here, so you can barge in and occupy any seat you like. After a few minutes, the film starts. Yet people continue to enter and leave. There are no doors to hall; just a curtain to block sun. Hence, sunlight from outside keeps falling on screen as people enter and exit. Some who don't manage to get seats are also allowed to occupy the floor.
The visual and sound quality may not be as good as multiplexes, but for true movie lovers, it's no good excuse to stop going there. An average moviegoer used to watching just romantic crap won't relate to the high level Mithun flicks. The philosophies and theories of the films played here is equal to flicks like The Matrix and Terminator. Hence, the hero in these films performs actions and stunts which are impossible to an ordinary human. The stunts and action (of Mithun especially) will put Jackie Chan to shame. Every action scene that the hero does is applauded and whistled at. People get so engrossed in the films that whenever the villain tries to attack from behind, the audiences alert the hero on screen, and amazingly the hero takes note of it and knocks down the villain right in time. However, while enjoying the movie, if you feel something ran over your feet, don't mistake it for your neighbor's foot. There are high chances of it being a rat or any other rodent. Sometimes they even jump over your shoulders while playing their own little games.
Intervals are pretty sudden here. You are watching some intense scene and the screen goes blank. These places don't have canteens. Guest vendors are invited from outside to provide you with snacks. You get everything from vada pav, idli, behl puri etc. at cheap prices by vendors standing outside the hall's railings. Good food, cheerful crowd and loads of skin, what else does one need while watching a film.
Ticket rates: Rs. 10, Rs. 15. Max price can go to Rs. 30Soft porn single screeners / video parlors
This category is as exciting as it sounds. As some wise person once rightly said 'sex sells'. And furthermore, if it comes at a cheaper rate, it's a loot. Such is the case with the theatres playing sleazy soft porn films. Although the censor laws are quite strict in India, there are some shady places playing such films which run in full swing across India. They successfully pull in a good number of audiences and the theatre owners also make decent profits. Be it in a big city like Mumbai or a small town in Bihar, the soft porn theatres have more or less similar structure and functioning. The audiences are 100% men, who can be categorized as follows:
1) Teenage boys - For teens with jumping hormones, it's like getting a crack code to the biggest secret hidden from them since childhood. So, babies aren't really delivered by storks. All this years Walt Disney lied to them. What exactly happens is a very exciting process, which these teens discover at these theatres, thanks to the kind watchman uncle outside who didn't stop them from sneaking in.
2) Hungry - These are the poor souls who are basically bored with their colorless and spice less life. The sleazy films are the only drug that helps them achieve balance.
3) Retired but not tired - They form the major percentage of audiences in these theatres. They are mainly old uncles who have hung up their boots. They come to watch these movies as a remembrance of the good old times.
The most fascinating part about these theatres is the publicity of their films. The theatre owners flood the surrounding areas with posters of scantily dressed actress which work amazingly well to pull the target audiences. Sometimes, however, the film turns out to be completely different from what was shown in the posters. Even the actors might not be the same. One wonders if these films can be called soft porn. These films can also be simply poorly dubbed versions of some low grade English or South Indian porn flicks. But for the desperate audiences, it doesn't matter what the film is about or where on earth it was shot. Some moments of "action" on screen and its paisa vasool for them.
The theatre structure need not be necessarily bad as sometimes even the famous old theatres due to financial crisis, take on to playing sleazy films. These aren't highly recommended places though, as the kind of experiences you might get there can't be described in this article. But still if you wish to have some wild and crazy experience, do give it a shot.
Video parlors: These aren't exactly theatres but a special arrangement made for mass viewing of movies in small halls that can even be an extension to someone's house. There are no projectors or screens but the movie is played on a television. A glass in front of the screen magnifies the visual for the audiences. These places have a seating arrangement of merely 20-30 people only. Censor laws do not apply for such video parlors and they usually play hardcore pornographic films or pirated VCDs of newly released films. You'll find such parlors only near slum areas where the screening of porn or maybe newly released films takes place illegally.
Ticket rates: Ranges between Rs. 7 to Rs. 25
So if you didn't know, India cinema halls have a lot more to offer. All you need to have is the adventure spirit and love for all kinds of films. Hope you tour and have fun at the different types of theatres in India.
Asian Film Festival ends on a good note
Darwaza Bandh Rakho