Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince is coming to our city this week, so I thought I’d better book some tickets online. To my dismay the only online tickets available were front row seats where if you sit your nose would almost touch the screen and you'd have to crane your neck in awkward angles to get a good view. I wasn’t really interested. I mean I really want to see the movie, but front row seats? Thank you but no thanks, I’ll come back next week. The world will not end just because I didn’t see a movie on its first week. And I can always download it from the internet.
I kind of miss the old days, not the old days when I was a teenager or when I was in school, but the days before multiplexes and multiple movie screens. The days of the good old movie theaters. There were no phone bookings or online bookings back then, and if you want to see a hit movie you’d have to reach the theatre long before the booking counters opened and most of the time stand in line to get a ticket. And then there were time slots for advance bookings. Movie tickets were cheap, around 30-40 bucks for balcony seats. And once you got the tickets there would be nothing to do, so you'd sit on the roadside watching the people, or if they let you inside the theatre you could roam around looking at movie posters. Sometimes the tickets would be sold out, but no fear, there were always a couple of guys selling black tickets, and selling them openly. They would stand near the gates and shout “Balcony pachas, balcony pachas.” Fifty bucks for a thirty-rupee ticket. Still a good bargain, because if you go home empty handed and come again the next day you would incur more on the auto fares etc than if you pay twenty rupees extra now.
There were no pubs or lounges or shopping malls where you could hang out, so we’d eagerly wait for new movie releases. I read my old diaries again (from around ‘98,’99) and every weekend I would write “went to this movie, that movie.” Sometimes we’d see two movies back to back, and sometimes see the same one many times. I particularly remember seeing “Michael” at least three times, you know the one where John Travolta plays an angel and Andie MacDowell was also in it. I think I’ll see it again this weekend, just for old time’s sake. And then there was the time we went to see the newly edited Star Wars, a bunch of us went, I think around six to seven people, and all of us fell asleep. But after seeing Revenge of the Sith I discovered it’s not boring at all, you just have to follow the story. Hayden Christensen and his troubled eyes converted me.
Last week I and a couple of nieces went to see The Hangover, and the ticket guy asked us if everyone was above eighteen. It reminded me of the time we went to see Striptease, I think that was in ‘98, the doorman asked my age and I promptly said “Twenty one.” Twenty one was really old back then, and thirty was like ancient. The innocence of youth! Gone forever, never to return.