I remember trotting hand in hand with my family to the only theatre in the town to watch the hit Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. I was in 5th standard. And it was the first time I had watched some movie on 70mm screen. Interval was a big surprise thing and I was scared when they switched off the lights and started the movie again. My dad had gone out to buy refreshments and had not returned. Moments later he came back, guided by the torch lights and holding chips and popcorns.
We did not go that often to the theatre those days. The movies that I saw in theatre can be counted on my finger tips. Dil To Pagal Hai, Pardes, Duplicate, Dil Se, Mann, Fiza, Mission Kashmir. There was another movie especially for kids. But my memory fails to place its name correctly. Except Mann, all of these have been watched in the hall of our very own Kusum Theatre. Mann was seen in Shringaar theatre in Ludhiana. The theatre seemed no different than ours, only a little pricier.
Then there was a break. I went to Hamirpur and lost touch with movies and theatres. Occasionally though, my parents would tell me that they had gone out for a movie.
By then, I had also learnt that Kusum theatre, named after the member from Mandi’s royal family, was not in the league with finer theatres. That there are theatres with push back seats, cushioned seats and other comforts. And that one does not have to wait months for movies. That the first day first show is a big craze with youngsters. Things that I had never experienced. I had never been part of.
Placement in Wipro took me to Bangalore. Weekends were spent either in malls or in posh PVRs. Sophisticated theatres, with sophisticated crowds. Comfortable seats. They were definitely costlier but watching movie in HD quality with wonderful acoustics was also a wonderful treat. Watching movies became a favourite weekend activity.
Some days my parents would tell me that even they had gone out for a movie. Some days my cousins would accompany them. Some days I wondered out loud how they could enjoy watching movies in that old, unkempt theatre. They would laugh it off saying you will have to experience it firsthand.
And I did experience it; after I came back from Bangalore. Delhi 6. I had been looking forward to watch this one. And so had been my parents. So, we planned for a night show. (Being safe with parents has its own benefits.) The show was scheduled for 8:15P.M. Dad called up the theatre manager at 8:00P.M., to confirm if the movie would be showing. My quizzical look was answered with a simple “he runs the show if at least 10 people buy the ticket. 8 have already arrived. We three will make up the rest of the crowd”. I felt lost. We reached the theatre. Only if we could call it a theatre! No rush; no crowd; only a small queue. The ticket checker checked the tickets and ushered us in. “You can choose where you want to sit. Nobody is going to question you or stop you.” What else did I expect! We could laugh, talk, and make merry. Such a relief from the gold ticket halls of the PVRs. House-full is a rarity here. So are girls. And occasional power cuts. But the three hours are as much fun here as in any other theatre.
I and my dad are almost regulars at the place now. I actually look forward to watching movies there. We are just back from after watching “Rockstar”. All cold and numb. But happy.
With a handful of audience and Rs26/ticket for hall, I wonder how the owner manages to run and upkeep the place. But I am glad he does.