If there’s one thing you must know about me, it’s my immense love for movies. Watching films in theatres has always been a super exciting experience for me ever since I was a kid. So you can imagine my disappointment when theatres shut down due to the coronavirus induced lockdown. But just like everyone else, I did find refuge in Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar. Come November 24, my birthday, I did want to reunite with my old friend, the silver screen, on my silver jubilee. So, I convinced my movie craving, food-loving family to join the bandwagon to celebrate my birthday. I’m Sanjana Shenoy, a Senior Content Writer and here’s my first movie theatre experience after the lockdown. And I will break down the deets right from ticket prices, safety protocols and of course all the fun!
Browsing Through Movie Timings & Ticket Pricing
A night before my birthday, I browsed through BookMyShow to check out show timings and theatres. Unlike pre-Covid times, there were limited movies, with of course DDLJ adding the silver lining to the list. But then, I wanted to watch something different, so I came across the Robert De Niro starring, ‘The War with Grandpa’. A friendly family comedy about a grandson and grandfather fighting for a room by playing pranks on each other. This seemed like a great movie to watch with my family. But here’s where things would turn greater, the ticket price for this movie was just… “drumroll please”, ₹99 only. I remember screaming my lungs out in joy.
If you were a Bangalorean, tired of expensive movie tickets, you’d do that too. And the price was the same for all rows, even the topmost gold seats. We decided to go for the 12pm show at Royal Meenakshi Mall on Tuesday. Yes! We all took an off for my 25th birthday. Cheesy much? Online booking could have been a viable option since we could get 2 tickets for free, but we decided to pass. The entire theatre was empty at the moment, and we could only book alternate seats, keeping one seat empty as part of social distancing protocols. Just to make place for change of plans, we decided to visit the theatre and buy tickets there itself. I mean who’s crazy enough to watch a movie in a theatre on a weekday amid the pandemic right?
Thermal Screening, Hand Sanitisation & Limited Theatre Snacks
Walking into a totally empty mall on Tuesday was quite a weird experience. We’re so used to malls being beautifully decorated, bustling with excited shoppers, that Royal Meenakshi Mall, did seem like quite an abandoned affair. But we took full use of the opportunity to click photos against the backdrop of an empty mall. Afterwhich, we walked up to the theatre section, where we were greeted with of course thermal checks and hand sanitiser station. After booking the tickets we went to get snacks at the snack counter.
Usually, Royal Meenakshi Mall has one of the best varieties of snacks at theatres. Right from Baskin Robbin ice creams, gourmet sandwiches, brownies to of course the theatre favourites nachos and popcorn, it never disappoints. But this time, the choices of snacks were very limited, but the prices were still the same. We got a box of sterlised nachos with salsa and cheese dip for ₹260. Like come on, I’m still waiting for achhe din, when theatre food would cost peanuts!
Walking Into A Totally Empty Theatre & Sitting Seat Apart From My Family
Before lockdown, a theatre experience would mean walking into a super crowded room, where people are chattering, munching on their popcorn, shushing each other, sometimes crying kids, ringing cell phones, and of course AC on blast. Now, after lockdown, the theatre is empty, with.. mind you, NO AC. The entire theatre was empty. And it really seemed like my dad booked the entire theatre for my birthday. That’s still a running joke in my family. Thanks, but no thanks, dad!
Alternate seats had a yellow cross sign, so we could avoid those to maintain social distancing. Despite the fact that we came in as a family, we had to leave a seat empty between us. And of course, wear masks, unless we were snacking, then we could remove them. Once we settled in our seats, getting used to the warm theatre experience, pun intended, two men walked in and sat a few rows away. But that still didn’t deter the Shenoy family from thinking and acting like the theatre was truly ours. Whether we spoke loudly or I attended few birthday calls in between the ads, it really didn’t matter in this deserted theatre.
It did seem quite odd, to sit away from each other, leaving a seat empty, especially passing the nachos was hard. But then as the movie started we got used to it. We sat araam se, tucked in our reclining seats and had a gala time. It was an unusual theatre experience, no doubt. But then you eventually get used to the change right? Halfway into the film, the lights came on and it was intermission. A woman came around to take snack orders. Over and above, the theatre screen projected a huge barcode. We could scan the barcode from the comfort of our seats to check out the online snack menu. Now that’s really innovative and effective!
Enjoyable Yet Unusual Movie Theatre Experience
Well, watching a movie in a totally deserted theatre, seated apart from your family, is surely an unusual experience. But I have to laud the safety protocols taken by the movie theatre personnel. They made sure we had a safe and enjoyable experience. Usually watching movies in theatres is a community viewing experience. This time it was quite different. Nevertheless, we would eventually get used to the sanitised snacks, masks, alternate seating, low ticket prices and maybe even empty theatres. Change is different, but it can be good if we see it from a different perspective. My silver birthday celebration was a special one since I reunited with the silver screen. So, I hope you’d also have an enjoyable movie theatre experience, just like I did.