You would think that for a city like Lahore where the choices left for some time out range from walking endlessly (often aimlessly) in the malls to taking selfies at Badshahi mosque and posting them with Rumi-inspired captions, the people would’ve learned to appreciate the few other means of entertainment provided to them, such as cinemas. Sadly, no.
Take a moment and think back to the last time you were able to enjoy a movie in a cinema without the experience getting ruined by other individuals occupying the same space. (If you successfully can — Bless you, and kindly send me the location.) If you are nodding your head right now and know exactly where I’m going with this, then welcome to the party.
We all know the basic rules when watching a movie with a group of people — don’t talk, annoy, or distract others around you maybe by stretching your legs way too far where they continually hit the seat(s) in the row ahead, or by flashing your mobile phone screens because you never stopped to Whatsapp or even answer a call (sometimes in your full vocal capacity). These days, every multiplex plays their specially made adverts before the start of the movie that tries to educate the audiences seated inside the hall on making the viewing experience for others a friendly and comfortable one. Why is this necessary, because the people have paid to watch the movie — not everyone here is ‘for a lark’; it is best to assume that there is serious audience sitting amongst you and you must not spoil their evening.
An IMAX screen is, on average, 52×72 feet in dimensions, yet it’s not big enough to deserve ‘max’imum attention from the people inside the auditorium. Or, so it seems. The people coming in are often seen glued to their cell phones; they are still glued to them when the movie starts.
Moving forward to when the movie has started: it is understandable to be late — I’m sympathetic with you as I’m aware of the traffic situation in Lahore — but if your squad is arriving 30 minutes after the movie has begun and is now being directed to their seats by a worker whisking around a torch fervently, highly reminiscent of Gandalf and his shining staff leading the Fellowship through the mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings, it is extremely annoying. And, regardless of how much I enjoyed that movie, I’m trying to concentrate on a totally different one up on the big screen this time around.
Lastly, a special mention and a big shout-out to that macho Pakistani man still struggling to express his emotions at the right time and the right place, unless it’s at the cinema where any scene full of depressing emotion will easily bring about a mirthless crack of laughter from him, making the rest of the audience turn around in their seats hoping to spot this merciless critic who now revels in the only attention (misplaced) he has ever gotten in his life.
To cut the long story short, while the experience of watching a movie at a cinema may seem trivial to you, it is still an enjoyable medium of entertainment for many. So keep that in mind the next time your movie choice doesn’t live up to your expectations. Instead of quietly leaving the place, you refuse to budge while telling yourself, “Pesay tau puray kar keh jayen ge!” (we won’t move without getting our money’s worth).