Ms. en Scene – where Ranjani Krishnakumar concedes that cinema is life. Starting today, this column will appear on SilverScreen on the second Monday of every month.
Mid-way through Abiyum Anuvum (2018), Anu assuredly proclaims that no woman would think of motherhood as a burden. Spontaneously, my colleague — a good decade younger than me — and I broke into loud Renuka Chowdhary-esque laughter. At that moment, I knew I’d found my showtime soulmate.
Finding a partner to watch the kind of films I watch, without making me feel like Bagyaraj in Andha Ezhu Naatkal climax has been a Bahubali-ian task.
Allow me to recollect the time I watched Vivegam (2017) with a boss, who was rather stone-faced at the film, while I nearly ruptured my lungs hooting with my lips sealed. Imagine my embarrassment when my mouth opened against my will, seeing Ajith fly in on a bike.
Or the time I took an incredibly awkward friend to watch Idharku Thaane Aasaipattai Baalakumaara (2013). He was too awkward to tell me what he thought of the film, but we haven’t watched anything together since.
Or the time I took my then boyfriend to watch the romantic drama 180 (2011) and had to consciously ignore his disparaging stares. A few years later, I married him, and he took me to watch Lingaa (2014) on our anniversary. Thank god, he knew what he was getting into. Don’t #haun me.
Or the time I took a dozen friends from college, bunking class, to watch Ah Aah (Anbe Aaruyire, 2005) in a dingy theatre in Bangaluru, which had no one but us. I wish I didn’t remember that I had insisted that it would be a fun film. Now you can #haun me.
There is no adventure like going to the movies. Each experience is intensely different, yet when you look back, it’s all grindingly the same. You are left in a dark room surrounded by dozens of people, but you almost always feel as if you’re in it alone — at least, you will, if you have good film-viewing etiquette. At the end of it, there is certainly pain and pleasure, in varying degrees depending on the film you watched. The outcome is grossly unpredictable and entirely out of your control.
If one went in with any expectation, one is almost certain of disappointment, because no film can reproduce what we hope it will be. If one went with no expectation, one is most likely to be hit in the face with utter horror — the two films I watched last year without googling were Arjun Reddy (2017) and Meyaadha Maan (2017). If one went in with low expectations, well, don’t. Just up your standards a bit.
And this adventure magnifies when you take someone else along with you. The concerns about them being fed or entertained or comfortable can weigh on your film-viewing experience.
The best person to watch a movie with is the one who inspires you to be your best self a.k.a your showtime soulmate.
As an avid popular-Tamil-cinema-connoisseur — also known as obsessive kuppa padam watcher in some circles — allow me to help you find your showtime soulmate.
Firstly, find someone with good breath
No, I’m not joking. Not only will you have to sit next to them for three hours or whisper in their ear once in a while, but there will also come a time when you’ll see something on screen that you’re irredeemably scared of — a snake or a man or something. You’ll have to bury your face in their chest and they will most certainly sigh.
Make sure they can watch two things at a time
You can never tell when inspiration strikes. For instance, take the drunk man who was inspired by Jiiva to fly off the balcony, with his cape in the air, while watching Mugamoodi (2012). You need a showtime soulmate who will be able to enjoy the ringside drama, while also respecting the film.
Remember, a married man makes a good soulmate
One morning, R, my good friend S’s significant other called me. “S wants to watch Puli (2015),” she pleaded, her voice breaking to the point of utmost hopelessness. You see, the three of us had watched Anegan (2015) a few months ago. S and I had danced to ‘dangamaari oodhaari’ in our seats.
“Will you?”, she asked. “Please?”
I jumped with joy and took S to watch Puli. I was so grateful that our soul-mating (what is the word?) could continue that I even went to his house and picked him up. This does not happen too often, you hear me?
Fashion disaster waits by the restroom door
After attending a friend’s grand wedding reception, I went to watch Pizza (2012) — night show in the world-famous Kasi theatre. As an ‘urban poor’ resident of Bengaluru, I had no place in Chennai to change, so I went to the theatre in a beautiful green kanjivaram sari. Naive as I was, I decided to change in the theatre restroom — bah, don’t be a fussy girl, I told myself!
As the only woman in the theatre so far, I marched with tall strides towards the restroom — I’m not scared of you, I told them all, silently. There were 4-5 stalls in the restroom, if memory serves, and all had wet floors. Assuming no one would come in because there was no other woman here, I began changing hurriedly.
Would you have guessed? A man arrived! To the women’s toilet.
He didn’t see me. So, I ran into one of the stalls, pottalam-kattified my sari, wore a t-shirt on top of my blouse and walked out staring at him — I’m not scared of you, I chanted under my breath. When I got to my seat, my showtime soulmate held out the popcorn.
So, remember, a true soulmate is one unperturbed in the face of underskirt, joothis, t-shirt, red lipstick and large antique jewelry. If you find that person, put towel.
Finally, and most importantly, shouldn’t know the word ‘no’.
I have a very simple trick. Ask them if they’d watch Katthisandai (2016) with you. If they sit all the way through it, you’ve a relationship of a lifetime!
Now, let me try this on my aforementioned colleague. Be right back!
Unmistakable. Meticulous. Predominantly an essayist. Evolved from a marketer. Ranjani Krishnakumar eats Tamil films all day and fruits for breakfast. Roosts with pair in Chennai apartment. Usually found chasing Vitamin-D. Believes “Dei” or “Pch” is the answer to all questions.