Watching Dorasani Alone In A Theatre In Mumbai: A Tale Of Eternal Love (For The Movies)

FC reader CV Nitin takes us through the odd and slightly surreal experience of watching a Telugu film all alone in a theatre in Mumbai
Watching Dorasani Alone In A Theatre In Mumbai: A Tale Of Eternal Love (For The Movies)

Here's a maths question for you:

What is one movie ticket plus two movie tickets?

Three movie tickets, right?


Two weeks ago, on a Sunday, I watched a movie for the first time (wait, that's not the end; I have watched a fair number of movies). But this time I watched a movie for the first time when I was the only person in the entire theatre.

I had always wanted to do it ever since one of my classmates in primary school said that if anyone watched Evil Dead all alone in a theatre and was still alive at the end, he would win Rs. 20 lakh or something like that (by the way, this is not my craziest Evil Dead anecdote).

Despite its allure, being the only soul in a theatre was not a big item on my bucket list. After all, watching a movie in a theatre is a communal experience. You sit in a dark hall with random strangers and watch as a bunch of images projected onto a white screen at twenty-four frames per second. And after the laughs are laughed, the whistles whistled and the tears cried, everyone goes their separate ways. This three hundred odd gang is not going to assemble together in the same configuration ever again in their entire lives. But during the three hours in the theatre, you share something magical (if the movie is good). If you are really lucky, you may even end up meeting someone with whom you share the rest of your life.

 Like me.

 Just kidding. Keep up man, I just told you that I literally had an entire theatre to myself.

Anyway, this is what happened.

Recently a Telugu movie titled Dorasani released. I wanted to watch it because:

 a) Cinema is life

b) The lead actor Anand Devarakonda was my senior at school

I really wanted to see how he performed as I didn't remember him as an actor. And let me tell you our school put up a lot of plays every year. But coming to think of it, some other guy from school writing a blog post about me would say the same thing if (and when) I become a director. I was never known for my interest in cinema during all my years at school. In fact, even I didn't know until I entered college.

There has also been a lot of talk that Das (as Anand Devarakonda was known in school) became an actor only because of his elder brother. I didn't care much about this nepotism debate because I can't ever imagine why anyone would do anything else in life if they could work in movies.

So, coming back to Dorasani (somebody tell me if there needs to be an extra 'a' in the title), I forgot to mention that I am currently staying in Mumbai. Yep, not a lot of options if you want to watch Telugu movies (especially the smaller ones).

I was constantly checking Bookmyshow but for the first full week, there were no shows in the entire city. I had given up and only opened the app again on Thursday to book a ticket for Puri Jagannadh's iSmart Shankar (what can I say, I like Puri) when I found that Dorasani was playing in two theatres over the weekend.


One was in Thane and the other in Goregaon (not Gurgaon; you should have seen the auto driver's face when I said that by mistake). Both of them at least half an hour away. I decided to go for the 12:20 show in Thane because it was nearer. And while Bookmyshow was helpful enough to tell me about the movie, I decided not to buy the ticket online. The theatre was empty. No point in paying 20 rupees as 'internet handling fees', when you can easily get a ticket at the booking counter, right.

What can I do, I am the guy who saves 20 bucks here and then proceeds to reward himself with a coke and popcorn (costing more than 500 rupees) during the interval. But not booking the ticket was a mistake. The next time I opened the app, the Thane show had disappeared.

Luckily the Goregaon show was still up. I booked the ticket before they changed their mind too and rushed out of my flat after a quick bath. I had to reach the theatre in 45 minutes if I didn't want to miss the opening credits.

I would have still watched the movie if I was late. I am not like Woody Allen in *fuck, what's that movie's name*, yeah Annie Hall. Once I was so late to a movie (Puri's Loafer) that ten minutes after I sat down in my seat, it was time for the interval. Later on, when a friend asked me if I liked the movie, I replied that the first half was good (I am trying to get you to smile now but at that time, I had really meant it).

God, I am rambling on and on. Maybe, because there is nothing much to tell.

I reached the theatre five minutes late. But apparently the show had not started yet. In fact, the theatre people were waiting for me. As soon as I showed my ticket at the entrance, they were like: 'ah, here is the guy'.

A woman came up to me.

 'We are extremely sorry, but we can't run the show.'

 'Why', I said even though I knew exactly why.

 'We cannot play the movie for a single person.'

I tried to sum up the courage and attitude of every Mumbaikar who believes that it is his right to get what he wants.

'But I paid for the ticket already.' I said in Hindi. I would have sounded bold and confident if only I didn't make at least a half a dozen grammatical mistakes.

'You can watch any other movie you like.'

 'But I came all the way from Worli.' I had given up on my toughness. 'Is there nothing you can do?'

 'We can play the movie if there are at least three people in the theatre.'

Ah, now we are negotiating.

'I can buy one more ticket if you want. Not more than that.'

 'The rule is three tickets, sir.'

'Alright, I'll buy two more tickets.'

I paid for the two extra tickets and made my way into the theatre. The hall wasn't as big as I imagined but who am I to complain. I went and sat in the seat that I had booked despite the fact that I could sit anywhere I wanted (Does this say something about me?).

When the National Anthem started, I dutifully stood up. The lights dimmed and the theatre became dark.

I kicked off my sneakers, put my legs up and sat back as the movie began playing just for me.

The End.

PS: What did I think of the movie?

I thought it was a good watch and Anand Devarakonda did a pretty good job (apart from the open-armed SRK pose he does a couple of times). One of the biggest tests for a new actor is whether he can hold your attention for the 150 minutes he is on screen. This is quite a tough task because the moment people are bored, they whip out their smartphones. I don't know about other theatres, but in mine, not a single phone came out during the movie.

I was sucked into the story and was not randomly reminded that he was my senior at school or VJD's brother. Shivathmika, the 'Dorasani', did a good job too. A few critics have already talked about how the director didn't explore the relationship between the heroine's dad and the maid or the naxal uprisings in the area, so I am not going to go there. With a bigger budget and a longer run time, this story would probably make a great series on Netflix. Something like a violent Downton Abbey.

 However, I had a few issues. Not to be picky but why does Dorasani tie the red cloth to the window? Visually, it looks great as it flutters in the wind, but it didn't have any impact on the story. Was it supposed to be like Brienne's candle in GoT? I don't know. And the train in the end looks so modern. Did trains in the eighties have blue seats and red numbers like they do now? I would be quite disappointed if they did.

And as for the ending (*spoilers*) I had already seen Sairat, so I kinda expected what was in store for the lead couple. But it was still shocking, nonetheless.

PPS: A few hours later, I watched iSmart Shankar. And this time, I wasn't the only person in the theatre.

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