The undying charm of cinema halls

The niftiest personal device can’t match the excitement of good old big screens, says director Hemanth M Rao

Hemanth M Rao

Like most people from my generation, my earliest experience at a movie hall was watching ‘Chotta Chetan’. Nothing can compensate the charm of watching a movie on the big screen. 

I vividly remember the incidents that evening. It was an evening show, when my father walked me out of the movie hall. The sight outside the theatre confused me tremendously. In the few hours that I was inside the theater, the world outside had completely changed. The sun had gone down, all the shops were shut, it had rained and god knows what else had happened. I had missed all of it. But, at the same time, I had gained the experience of being on an adventure with Chetan.

The images on the giant screen, the music, laughter, the hoots and cheering had truly transported me to another world. Since then, I spent a fair amount of time at the movie hall, hitting the pause button on my reality. The experience of watching a movie on the big screen took me on unusual journeys, helped me see different parts of the universe, meet all kinds of people and come face-to-face with some creatures too.

Watching a cinema in the theatre is best experienced than described. Some journeys end up being more memorable than others. Some characters linger long after they have gone, some others are best forgotten.

Today, looking back, I don’t remember a single scene from ‘Chotta Chetan’ and I have a strong feeling that Chetan doesn’t remember me either. But I’m sure, if our paths ever cross again, we would smile at each other with a great deal of fondness. For, the impact that film left on me was truly inexplicable.  

The world has changed rapidly; technology has advanced, things today are smarter than ever before. Today, cinema has found shelter in much smaller places than movie halls. Of course, it is a huge boon for filmmakers like us. Digital platforms and technology allow us to experiment with form and content, helps us reach out to more and more people. But I truly hope movie halls are here to stay. If not for anything, it must remain for the irony that defines filmmakers.

To paraphrase what legendary actor Vishnuvardhan had once said, everybody in films earn their due working around artificial lights. And that joy is seen by a bunch of strangers sitting in a large dark room.

(Director of ‘Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu' and upcoming movie ‘Kavalu Daari’)

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The undying charm of cinema halls

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