People who know me might know that I am a cinephile. I avidly follow the happenings in the cineverse, regularly interact with fellow cinephiles in social circles, and occasionally write short snippets on movies that moved me.
I am not much of a picky eater, but I am a picky watcher. I check reviews, watch the trailer, and decide to watch a movie only if it suits my taste. In a time before Covid and direct OTT releases, seeing a movie that you waited for eagerly was not always easy. The cinema halls may not be that accessible to you, or the movie may not be prominent enough for it to release in your nearest theaters.
There have been times where I have dropped the idea of watching some movies in theaters due to practical limitations, but here let us talk about the times where I went the extra mile.
The Jungle Book (2016)
Disney’s Jungle Book was, beyond doubt, one of the most prominent releases of the year, and of course, it was released in theaters near me. But the trailer of the movie had swept me away with it’s visual richness so much that I wanted to watch it with the best experience possible. IMAX was out of bounds, so I settled for what was allegedly the best theater experience in the state - The AriesPlex SL Cinemas, Thiruvananthapuram.
I was doing my Masters in Kollam during the time, and the said theater was almost a two hour ride away. The decision was made, and off I went on a KSRTC Superfast. Kollam to Thiruvananthapuram - just for the movie. I went alone as I was embarrassed to ask my classmates to tag along. I was sure I would be ridiculed. The trip was worth it, as the magic of the Jungle Book unfurled spectacularly on the majestic screen of Ariesplex.
The same year. The same student phase. I had not heard of this Radhika Apte starrer psychological thriller until it was released. Once the rave reviews started pouring in, I had this indomitable urge to go watch it in the theaters. I checked for screenings near me, and realized that this movie was screening at only one center in the entire state of Kerala. PVR - Lulu Mall, Kochi.
It was a Monday morning. I was at the Kottayam railway station to board the train that takes me to my college at Kollam. The train that would take me to Kollam arrived on platform one. I quietly walked over to Platform two. Soon, Venad Express came in on its way to Shoranur, via Ernakulam. I boarded, of course. A train and a bus journey later, I arrived at the Lulu Mall with plenty of time to spare before the movie would begin. It was an exciting day for both the cinephile and the foodie in me.
Gully Boy (2019)
Not all trailers have the ability to excite you to the core, but Gully Boy had one such one. I was counting days for its release. And when it did, and it did release in a nearby multiplex as well, but the timing was a bit off. The only showtime available was eleven in the night. Though the screen was not too far from where I lived, the timing was a bit tricky as I did not have any vehicle with me. I decided to walk it, very well knowing that it would be past midnight when the movie ends and then I will have to walk all the way back home alone.
As luck would have it, I ran into some colleagues (and my wife too, but I did not know her then. Ab dekho toh hum paas lekin Socho kitni doori hai) at the cinema, and one of them probably took pity on me and offered to drop me home after the movie ended.
This time I am in New Delhi, and even though Malayalam movies release there, it’s often delayed and limited. One has to follow keenly to know when a new movie will be out. When Moothon finally found its way to Delhi after a myriad of film festivals, it could only find one screen - and that too in Faridabad - which is a part of NCR politically but geographically, it is in Haryana.
It would take me roughly four hours up and down in the Delhi Metro to commute, and once again I traveled for cinema - alone as usual. The theater was not very remarkable, and the small crowd was mostly Keralites. There I met a young Delhiite, who was an evolving filmmaker. He had come down to watch Moothon after hearing good reviews, and that elated me. So did the Geethu Mohandas directed gritty drama starring Nivin Pauly and Roshan Mathew.