The Pre-show Patriot and Other Humans of Movie Theatre


The Pre-show Patriot and Other Humans of Movie Theatre

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

It’s summertime and the weather ain’t fine,  but the arrival of the summer blockbuster is as inevitable as a millionaire tycoon defaulting on a hefty loan. While most of us are prepping for the Oscar season from the familiar comfort of our couches, watching the Academy Award-nominated films on Pirate Bay on our laptops, the summer blockbuster is an entirely different experience. This year calls for some Rowling time with Fantastic Beasts 2 and some Iron Man and Thor bromance with Avengers: Infinity War. These mega-productions demand a visit to the theatre to fully experience all the magic and the supernatural-ness in all its glory.

Unfortunately, your enjoyment of the surround-sound system, groundbreaking CGI, and immersive 3D is likely to be severely hampered by the presence of the worst-behaved creatures in Indian films. No, it’s not Ram Gopal Varma, it’s the moviegoer. Here are the MVPs of the squad that manages to ruin the theatre experience for you every time.

The Popcorn Procrastinator

You’ve beaten the city traffic, endured the queue at the ticket counter, and made it just in time to grab a snack before the trailers begin. Now all you need is some popcorn and you’ll have the perfect start to your movie. Unless you wind up behind the Popcorn Procrastinator.

This idiot thinks that he is ordering at a Michelin-star restaurant, not a theatre canteen. He asks the snack vendor for recommendations as if his name tag reads Gordon Ramsay. Popcorn Procrastinator will then scan the menu as if he’s looking for caviar, and then finally settles for plain salted popcorn. But not before he makes you miss the first five minutes of your movie.

The Pre-show Patriot

Sometimes you get lucky and make it into the hall before you run into the Popcorn Procrastinator. Hopefully, your fortune holds, and your movie starts without the Pre-show Patriot making an appearance. Look for the person scanning the crowd instead of watching the screen when the national anthem plays. This is a person who wants to be in a position of authority when s/he was growing up, but failed both the class monitor and the police entrance exam, and the watchman job interview. Today, the only way the Patriot feels important is by catching someone slow enough to rise for the anthem at the theatre and disrupting the subsequent screening. If this bhakt makes an appearance, you’d better be quick on your toes.

The Back-Row Boudoir

It doesn’t matter whether the movie you’ve come for is an action flick or a comedy, you’re going to get served a side of softcore viewing material if you scan the darkness of the last two rows. Have some sympathy, the couple who is busy mashing faces in the back row, probably lives with their parents. And maybe the movie theatre is the only place they aren’t yelled at for keeping the AC running. I’d vote for this couple over the others. Because unlike the Procrastinator and the Patriot, they don’t hassle other movie-goers. Until someone starts moaning, that is.

The Interrupting Infant

Some millennial parent has made the mistake of bringing their newborn child into a dark room filled with loud noises and dozens of strangers. Be sure to seek them out after the show and personally deduct 50 points from their IQ score. The Interrupting Infant is most probably visiting a theatre for the very first time, and is just not in the mood for a movie. Obviously, the baby is bound to disrupt a serious scene with a well-timed cry, but that’s far from the worst damage it is capable of causing. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting next to an infant, start praying that you don’t smell a soiled diaper during the show and that the puddle near your foot is just some spilled Coke.

The Continuous Commentator

A few times in an era, a person is born who is such an abject failure at life that he enjoys watching DVD commentaries more than the actual movie itself. This guy thinks that movies are like paintings – you can discuss them loudly while they’re right in front of you. Be prepared to spend most of the show futilely trying to pinpoint the precise location of the Continuous Commentator, while he or she continues prattling on like a radio jockey who got fired for being too talkative. The Commentator will pay as much attention to you shushing them as Navjot Singh Sidhu does to the other guy in the commentary box.

If there was a way to enjoy a movie at the theatre without having to share it with a bunch of annoying strangers that didn’t involve renting an entire cinema like an Ambani, I’d be first in line to try it. Unfortunately there isn’t, so we either put up with our fellow cinephiles, or settle for the next best thing. Netflix and chill, anyone?