I can’t remember the first movie I watched, but the earliest films my brother and I have caught were at The Assembly Rooms in Ooty. We studied at a boarding school there, and whenever our parents came to meet us over the weekends, our plans included catching a film. The Assembly Rooms mainly played English films and we’ve seen a lot of James Bond entertainers there. For our Tamil movie fix, we’d usually go to Mettupalayam. I remember how hard I laughed when I saw Michael Madana Kama Rajan. Kizhakku Vasal and Anjali were also some of the films I watched in Ooty.
Once I got into making movies, Friday mornings at theatres became my routine. I was in Tirupati when my first film (Charan Dodla-Shriya Saran-starrer Telugu film Ishtam) released. My co-director Raj and I went to four-five theatres to see the response and that experience was fantastic. There is nothing like watching movies in theatres. Getting permission from parents to go to a theatre in itself was a big deal back then. Making arrangements for ticket and refreshment money, standing in a queue and then getting tickets… Sometimes, the show would become house full even before you got your tickets! Today, you can just see online if there are tickets or not and then make that effort to get to a theatre. Back in those days, it was different, and that was the whole thrill. In Kerala, they would close the gates until they start issuing tickets and people would be standing outside, getting crushed. When the gates opened, there would be a stampede.
When TV was introduced, people said nobody would go to theatres. That’s what people are saying now for OTT as well. Though cinema in theatres will always continue. Theatres have opened up in some cities, but it will take time to pick up because of the coronavirus scare. But it will definitely continue to be a major form of entertainment.