The earworm-inducing classic Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge just completed its 500th week of showings in India (thanks, Ennis):
Bombay audiences are some of the toughest in the world, and a bad movie can be pulled before the end of opening weekend. Most films bloom for a week or two and disappear. But “Dilwale” has become a Bombay institution, a perfect masala of location, entertainment, and low price. Young men and women, but mostly young men in their untucked white shirts, wait every morning outside the cinema. The box office sells balcony tickets – the choicest seats – for 15 rupees… On busy weekends, the 1,000-seat theater sells out with visiting families… The audience snuggles down in the dark, ready to make jokes, applaud the hero’s arrival, and urge the lovers to “Kiss! Kiss!”
I’m surprised they don’t throw rice. Desi film audiences apparently share a geeky obsessiveness with fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Star Wars. It’s not surprising, really. All three genres are high camp.
Is a balcony ticket really available for 15 rupees? The last time I saw a movie in Bombay, it was at a theater showing ‘Hera Pheri’ and a Rs 40 ticket got me seats in the second row in front of the screen (that’s a pretty bad place to sit in). Actually it was quite an adventure – we were desperate to see a movie that night,and not knowing any place in Mumbai properly, we took a taxi from the Andheri station. It was a jolly sardarji who quickly found out that we were from Kerala. He proceeded to regale us with Kerala stories that he had picked up from a Malayalee neighbor, and included some malayalam words too… after around an hour of driving, he dropped us off at Maratha Mandir (which is not the theater we asked him to drive us to) and told us that ‘Arrey, yeh movie badi acchi hai, ise dekh lo’. Hmm… we knew we had been duped, much like every other newcomer to Mumbai.. and after around 20 minutes of arguing, we ended up paying half of what he demanded. Anyway, we did hike our way to a different theater and saw our Rs 40 movie.
We also resolved never to tell anyone in Mumbai that we were from someplace else.
My first reaction on reading the CSM story was “‘longest running’? How long did Sholay run?” To which someone posted:
Ah! The difference between American media and others…
Not sure about ‘real’ theaters or the Maratha Mandir. At the upscale Forum mall in Bangalore, there’s a very slick new theater where a ticket for Oceans Twelve cost ~Rs. 130. It was huge and nicer than most theaters in the U.S., except maybe Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and other converted theaters and opera houses.
The ticket cost was similar for Hulchul, a Hera Pheri ripoff, at a new mall in Noida. I wanted to go to a real theater, but the family wouldn’t hear of it– they were treating, and they wanted to show off the chrome.
True, many theaters in the south, especially in Kerala (Anyone who’s been to Trichur will know Ragam) are pretty awesome.
Hulchul was a remake of the Malayalam movie Godfather (no relation to the Brando movie) and directed by Priyadarshan who seems to have made a business out of remaking old Malayalam movies into Hindi. Hera Pheri itself was a remake of an old Malayalam movie (and probably directed by Priyadarshan himself) Ramji Rao Speaking.
It’s more like Cats than Rocky Horror …