#TheatreLove: Watching films with audience helps feel the pulse of viewers, says Lakshmy Ramakrishnan

Even as the central government has announced that movie theatres can be opened from October 15 with 50 per cent occupancy, there is still uncertainity 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…

Hailing from a conservative family, I did not watch too many movies in a theatre. However, what I distinctly remember watching Yaadon Ki Baaraat in a theatre. We, around 40 of us had gotten together for a cousin’s upanayanam. That time, Ram (my husband) was also in the gang, and we all went for the movie. But we never knew that we would get married later.

As a school student, I had once bunked class and went to watch Moondram Pirai wearing my uniform. It was sheer luck that no one had informed my parents about my adventure.

It was in Muscat that we started watching films. We used to go with friends for films. After returning to India, the first film I watched was Shivaji with my three daughters. Along with the audience, I too stood up, whistled and enjoyed the film. By that time, my inhibitions had gone.

When my debut movie as a director, Arohanam released, we went to Sathyam and watched it along with the audience. Oh god, it was such an unforgettable experience. After the show, people got up and clapped. It was an amazing experience. My family was so proud of me and fascinated by my film.

I love watching films with youngsters and my daughters as they are expressive and celebrate their favourite stars. It’s an experience to watch films in theatres as one among the audience and I remember watching Yudham Sei in AVM. I think every filmmaker should watch his or her movie in a theatre along with the audience so that they understand the viewers’ pulse. I also dream of small pleasures like watching movies sitting on the floor, so close to the screens, and enjoying the magic of cinema unfolding in front of me. Movies when screened in theatre give you a high; inspire you.

Like most of the movie-lovers, I am also eagerly waiting for the theatres to re-open to watch films. During the lockdown, a lot of debate over OTT vs theatre has happened. I wish theatre owners become sensitive to filmmakers like us, who create content-driven, small-budget movies. While they screen 10 movies featuring big stars, they should give space for at least two small-

budget films.

In addition to entertainment, cinema also has something to do with society. We need to showcase and listen to stories from different perspectives.