Tuesday, June 10, 2008

People, people!

Went to watch Aamir, this weekend, with my brother because I'd heard good things about it overall. The story, very briefly, tracks 24 hours in the life of an ordinary middle-class, educated man called Aamir. An ordinary, middle-class, educated, Muslim man.

This post, though, is not about the movie. It is about watching the movie.

So we get ourselves food and coffee and settle into a half-full auditorium. There's a woman sitting next to me, and next to her, her male companion. Fifteen minutes into the movie, she starts to talk.

It began as a staccato hum of whispers, which I shrugged off as the usual desi jahalat when it comes to auditorium behaviour. The hum rose in tempo and volume. Half an hour into the movie, she starts complaining quite loudly, "Bakwas film hai. Kya hai ye?"

I shrugged it off. Bad manners combined with bad taste, very likely. But did she walk into "Aamir" expecting a campus romance with chiffon sarees? Perhaps, her male companion had talked her into it and she was determined to let him know how much she resented it.

At the interval, she proclaimed: "Not even one hour and the interval. It won't even last two hours."

After the interval, she talked right through - to her companion, on her phone. She laughed at the protagonist as he wandered about the city, hounded and harassed.

She said, "Bombay mein aisi jagah kahan hain?" Her companion whispered something back and she laughed. "Haan, bas in log ki hi."

And a few minutes later, she said: "Kaisi film hai... isme sab musalman bhare pade hain."

Let me translate: "What sort of film is this? It is full of muslims."

Finally, I turned to her and told her I'd appreciate it if she continued her conversation after the movie had ended.

But you know, I've heard of many unlikely reasons for people not enjoying a movie. But this was a first. Oh well, one lives and learns. But people and prejudice... What do you do? Wonder if Raj Kumar Gupta knew he'd come up against this sort of attitude in the theatres?


IRIS said...

Sad! Really sad!

Sunil said...

Not related to the point of your post, but I've found the best way of dealing with these people is Alan Garner's "requesting change" technique - state the action, state the consequences - and then simply wait. E.g. "Excuse me. You're disturbing other people when you talk." If they have a shred of decency in them, they'll be shamed into silence. If they still don't shut up, you could try once more followed by a direct request not to talk. And if they still don't... well then sadly the only thing to do is change your seat.

claytonia vices said...

I had to face a similar thing when watching 'Samsara'. Lots of racist comments and jokes in bad taste at everything that was different about their customs...

Lekhni said...

Some people! I usually start with the head-turn and the glare, though they cannot really see me glaring in the dark, can they?
Then I start my vocal protests.
But it's true, people who are so insensitive aren't exactly going to see reason either :(
Sometimes I prefer DVDs and wonder if I am slowly becoming anti-social..

Anonymous said...

I gave up on theatres a long time back - maybe only 3 visits a year, for the last 4.DVDs are my thing, unsocial (thats the word lekhini- though it feels weird to be correcting you, though I personally prefer asocial) or not. But yes, that comment however outrageous it seems is hardly unlikely. Makes me wonder- what worlds we live in!!!

questionairre said...

Remember a similar comment while watching Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam- ye to sirf gujrat main hi dikhani chahiye

Jai_Choorakkot said...

Would like to know your opinion on the movie.


1conoclast said...

Good movie Jai! The direction is crisp, the fast pace doesn't slacken. The Bombay shown is as it is. Thriller capable of being compared with Hollywood!
Better than the latest Indy flick in any case!

Wait a sec... Did I really say that??? WOW! That's a first!

1conoclast said...


Would like to know your opinion on the matter in the post...

Sachin said...

It's a huge shame, none less. We talk about Indians facing all kind of racism in US, UK, France and around the world...

But in our very own country, we are all prejudiced and biased with rampant racism...North..South..Hindu..Muslim.. only the forms are different, Idea is same... Regionalistic/Religonalistic attitudes have long been forming and seem to have matured...

Are we really 'One' country?

Jai_Choorakkot said...


I cant come up with anything new or different from what half-a-dozen others have already expressed here.

If anything, this kind of thing would no longer surprise me - it jarred the first couple of times. but yes, it helped that mostly its directed at "others" and the talker has mistakenly assumed that i share the prejudice. It must hurt more to be at the receiving end.

*Complete Honesty*

On introspection, I am not completely free from prejudice, I tend to have the "US" and "THEM" thing and have seen it in others too, who wont do this "full of muslims" thing. It starts with unfamiliarity and discomfort at PNLUS and its difficult to ascertain when stereotyping attributes get attached and how they grow.

In some respects the ones who express it openly can be reasoned with (i believe) while those who just maintain a p.c facade can be more tricky.

Sorry Annie for a somewhat OT disc.

Rabin said...

Sometimes there are some folks who do need a loud STFU thrown their way! This lady seems like one of them..i know profanity isn't good but sometimes it just bliss!!

I hate theatres and this is my top 10 reasons to watch movies on DVD:

1) You can toss a movie if you don't like it.

2) No irritating neighbours or corner seats or no one kicking you from the back or leaning back from the front. Infact you can choose the folks you watch it with.

3) No parking problems no traffic issues, no parking nazis trying to cramp your car up in a space fit enough for a cycle!

4) No getting stiffed a huge amount for salty, soggy popcorn, nothing like fresh microwave(d) popcorn and homemade lime juice!

5) No lines, whatsoever.

6) Pause & rewind! Bio breaks at your convienience (especially watching a 3-4 hour movie). Loong intervals...sometimes lasting days and weeks!

7) Beer

8) Some more beer!

9) Did i say beer yet? ok, then Subtitles!! And language options! You don't see the fun in it? then you haven't watched Spiderman in french!!

10) Finally cushions and for that lovely feeling of stretching out and snoring during those lovely songs!

dipali said...

What a sickening person. Unfortunately there are far too many of her kind. Bah.

1conoclast said...


Thanks for the really honest comments. A tad too honest maybe?

I've found that it pays to adopt a slightly confrontational approach. Here's what I'd have said, "Excuse me. I have two things to say to you. One, you're disturbing me. Two I'm part Muslim & I find that your comments are in very bad taste". That would've embarassed the young woman & DEFINITELY shut her up.

To me this isn't so much about bias. I think it's an indicator of how uncouth & ill mannered people are underneath their Levis & Reeboks. And this is a fact we should tell them. In as many words if we're to change their behaviour/perceptions.
I've done it & I find that it works.

Never Mind!! said...

I linked to your post and never mentioned it, but I guess I couldn't hide for too long :) I hope you dont mind.

Marvin said...

i am often ashamed and more often agitated at such behavior (not the
irritating style of movie watching but the last comment of the lady)

it's often that i get into arguments over such issues, with friends and relatives.

maybe venting our opinion about such beliefs might helping in transforming just one or two people. who knows! but if that happens, that is reason enough for us to try.

for the record, i would like to say sorry.

D said...

Would you believe it, they are no buyers for the film in UP? The film isn't even up at theatres!!!

Nabila Zehra Zaidi said...


And I am dying to watch that movie!! It is full of people like 'us, Muslims'...(huh... :P)

That female was definitely not there to enjoy a 'good' movie (as per going the reviews).

freewill said...

The indisciplined movie goer.....well , we hve had those experiences umpteen times,the wort was when a group of young biys came to watch a hollywood film for some flesh thrills and so spiled every sensitive moment with there cheap abusive one liners followed by proud laughter....ignored it the first 15 minutes then silently got up and went to the manager....was pleasantly surprised to see what followed....this man came with me and told me to recognise the boys in the intermission....got them out , and almost like a scene in a bollywood film told them to tell the nos of there homes.....some of them started crying , some pleaded to me .....with lots of apologies that came my way i relented thinking may be they realised resistance does come your way....it is not always my way ot the highway!
As to the comment made by the woman.....i have realised years of culturation that creates the 'other', as to the self is quite difficult to undo unless you have a personal experience to realise otherwise....I hope she has one....have realised it is very difficult to logic prejudice as it is based on unseen ghosts.

Anonymous said...

i thought people went to theatres only for heavy petting, and i love passing comments, i loved the good ol days when it was possible, the movie theatre is not a temple, its a brothel, its a shit hole, we like it that way, thank you, the cinema space is meant for people to purge and "otherise" at will, thats why we have villains in movies for chrissakes, the blog author otherises "them", those poor souls who havent the academic credentials and senstivity to empathise with a movie with a muslim protagonist, they otherise the movie and its characters, i otherise you, thats life, deal with it, and dear author pls write something more readable, which is devoid of your political agenda and the faux identity that you seek to build for yourself.
p.s - i rem once i was at the movies with my folks, and we had a bunch of young rustic jats sitting close and on a ma-bhen comment passing spree, and my poor parents being who they are, told me, chalo kahin aur baithhe hain, it was absurd to me really, but thats how jats are, when are we going to be sensitive towards how people are and stop sticking to our faux sense of propreity?
freewill : and what about your own culturation? have you resolved the self-other dialective inside you already?

Red Soul said...

I swear. I had gone to watch a movie with my best friend and the guy next to me say "kya ganit hain!!" (What's the equation?") probably meaning whats the logic behind every scene, every dialogue, every move of the actor. But for sure, you should have told her to keep it down in the first 10 minutes itself.

1conoclast said...


Did anyone ask for your un-erudite opinion?

Anonymous said...

1con: dont dub me anything just coz your daddy paid for your 'erudition', come up with an argument if you have one, else zip it.
this is not a pointless censure, all im saying is that its difficult to see oneself as being prejudiced too, why do we have to be so uptight and prudish when watching a movie? why cant we just forgive ppl for their callous remarks during a movie? our judgment might be uncalled for and myopic and not a true representation of who/how those people are outside a theatre.

the mad momma said...

one feels nothing but pity for such ppl. did u read about this experience i had on the train? very similar. http://thebratthebeanandbedlam.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/the-hypocrites-oath-and-more-train-tales/

I dont have your patience. I'd have let her have the rough edge of my tongue.

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Anonymous said...

anonymous, i think your point about reserving judgement on ppl who talk at movies is valid. and i think it would naturally extend to someone who's reacting spontaneously to the film itself (case in point, if i'm watching a funny film, i would of course expect my neighbour to laugh aloud/rock his chair, if it's a rajini film, i expect some level of raucousness - things i should probably accept even if it isn't a film i feel similarly about)

but i do think there's a very clear and discernible difference between people who react instinctively to what a film is saying, and people who, like in annie's story, are speaking aloud/passing comments. i don't want my theatre to be a sanctum sanctorum, as you suggest. but i do expect a certain level of civility and respect from people who should be aware that they aren't the only ones watching. and i don't think that's too much to ask. i don't think there's any one way people are (jats or otherwise).

arunesh said...

gt stuck last week in a theatre with a friends kid brother who thought nothing of answering his cellphone in the middle. funny thing is, da brat is nt likely to do the same if he was visiting the US - which he does.
crassification and stratification is upon us all. Status faux class, t'seems. bloggers load up the heavy arti(c)ry as the indie e-state comes into being.
and ah annie, your features are good. they come read and comment. to me this works. just nextime put the annoying freaks on video!

Brad said...

I think that this is something that we all have experienced at some point. But how many of us have done it and will not admit it?

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