#TheatreLove: I embarrassed my parents while watching Thenali, says Ashok Selvan

Even as the central government has announced that movie theatres can be opened from October 15 with 50 per cent occupancy, there is still uncertainty over how audience would embrace the new theatre experience. In this column, celebrities reminisce about catching their fave films at theatres and the magic of the movie hall…

Our family used to go to theatres only once in a while, and that too when a big film came out. The first film I remember watching is Kadhalan at Devi. I didn’t understand the film much at that age, but I remember enjoying Prabhu Deva’s dance moves. I embarrassed my parents while watching Thenali. I laughed so much that I kept hitting the front seat. The people in those seats turned around and shouted at my parents.

I remember bunking special classes to watch Anniyan in Sathyam Cinemas. The next day, we were all asked to come to the principal’s office. I also managed to watch the A-certified Manmadhan in the theatre even though I was under 18! And later, when I watched Paruthiveeran, my entire perspective about cinema changed. I developed a huge respect for cinema as an art.

Over time, I began watching films with more enthusiasm. I used to search for good films and watch them. I have two big memories of watching films in the theatre. One is a sad one — I did a minor role in a big-budget film. I went around town and announced that I was doing a role in the film. I was so excited, but as I watched the film in Devi theatre, I realised that they had chopped all my scenes. I didn’t know that there was a process like this and that you might not be seen in the film. It was a humiliating experience as my friends thought I was lying.

But I also had my aha moment when I watched Soodhu Kavvum. The film has dark humour and I was worried if audiences would get it. In the preview show, nobody laughed. But when it released, the audiences laughed like crazy. And at a screening of Kootathil Oruvan in the theatre, I saw a boy who looked exactly like my character in the film, who had come all alone, and cried during an emotional scene. All such experiences can be witnessed only in the theatre. Heading to the theatre has become a habit of sorts, now. These past few months proved to be difficult for me. I recently watched Ford Vs Ferrari on TV and felt sad about missing such a great film in the theatre. Going to the theatre brings so much joy. The experience of shouting, clapping, and throwing confetti at the screen while watching our favourite star is incredible fun.