Most of the movies I had watched during my childhood in theatres, were appa’s (Sathyaraj) films. I remember watching Walter Vetrivel at Udhayam theatre. It created a record by playing full house for the first 50 days. The clapping and whistling by fans on the 50th day of release were the same as its first day; witnessing it was a ‘wow moment’.
Those days, the popularity of a star was measured by the advance reservations. Watching Amaidhi Padai and Villadhi Villain, which had a reservation for around two weeks, was a great experience. I remember villain Sathyaraj getting more applause than hero Sathyaraj in Amaidhi Padai. Similarly, watching Avvai Shanmughi at Abirami theatre — the whole theatre was cheering for most of the scenes, especially for the hilarious climax sequence. Another crazy experience was watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day, multiple times, from Alankar theatre. I remember the frenzy when Arnold mouthed the popular dialogue, ‘I will be back’.
I was in Coimbatore for a location hunt when Vijay’s Thalaivaa was released. Since the movie didn’t release in Tamil Nadu, we went to Palakkad to catch the show. Travelling to another state to catch the FDFS was a memorable experience. Watching my film, Naaigal Jaakirathai, on Sathyam’s main screen was an emotional one. It was released on a small screen and was shifted to the main screen after a few days.
I’m quite hopeful of people returning to movie halls. People have started going to restaurants and other places. I was surprised to see the crowd at a popular coffee shop recently. Movie halls in Puducherry, too, had a decent crowd when they re-opened. I think movie buffs are ready to watch films by maintaining social distancing and other precautionary measures. And when a vaccine is invented, things will be back to earlier times.