Monday, May 19, 2008

Cinema and the City

One evening in 1986 found a much less wrinkled version of me in a small screening room on the lot of 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles. I was there to see the not-yet-released-soon-to-bomb film “Wisdom” with Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore. My friend JoAnna - who worked on the "Late Show with Joan Rivers" and got us seats whenever anybody interesting was on - and I were the only ones in the cinema for about 30 or so people which was kitted out with overstuffed seats equipped with their own phones. I had never seen such a place before.

This was before the day when everyone brought their own phones into the theatre treating us all to the requisite once-every-movie experience of “I can’t talk right now, I’m in the cinema… Ironman… Not bad… I can’t talk right now… Blowing stuff up… Yeah… Uh-huh… I can’t talk right now… What are you saying??!!” No, these were phones that would be used to summon the likes of Scorsese and DeMille, to order yummy treats from Spago. I wanted to pick one up and scream into it “You GO Demi, girl… You're gonna be huge. HUGE I say!” I had been a Demi fan since she started as Jackie Templeton on "General Hospital" and had run into her a few times at the Beverly Center in Beverly Hills, waiting for her to drop a crumb I could sweep up and call my own. I once tried to hold open the door for her as she left a store in Century City, but instead she changed her mind and went to look at something while a rude Christina Ferrare walked through in her place without so much as a "thanks" and then as fate would have it, I never saw Demi in person again, but I ran into Christina almost everywhere I went for about a month. Tell me, is there anything worse than repeat B-list celebrity moments.

That screening at 20th Century Fox was an amazing experience that ended with a stroll through the New York City stage - which was so much better than that sky wall that greeted everyone entering the Paramount lot, although I never got tired of seeing it loom over me as I stopped at the security booth for my pass - and was the first and last time I was in such a luxurious cinematic setting...

…Until last Saturday, that is. Against my better judgement I went to see “Prince Caspian” with Manuel. I had not been too impressed by the first one. I loved the books, I just think the story worked better on paper and in the imagination rather than on a big screen. But whenever we would pass by a poster of Prince Caspian, Manuel would start foaming at the mouth and in an awe-filled tone say things like “that has to be amazing!” So when the movie finally came out, I caved in and off we went to the PVR at Select Citywalk, already voted Mall of the Year for 2008. A bit presumptuous, but who am I to say anything.

At the PVR Citywalk, there are two counters around which people crowd, PVR and PVR Gold. We had no idea what PVR Gold was all about, so decided to ticket up and check it out. We entered the theater and were directed downstairs to a low-light lounge type bar to wait for the concierge to come and seat us. About 10 minutes before the start of the film, Manuel and I were taken into the cinema that has only 48 chairs. And these weren’t just any chairs, they were overstuffed red leather electronic recliners. I took off my shoes and pressed the button to raise the leg rest. If the button is pressed long enough, the chair completely stretches out into a very inviting nap-time position. There is a small table shared by each pair of chairs which the concierge then places a flute of bubbles.

Surprised, we yanked up our glasses and almost smashed them as we enthusiastically clincked and toasted our new cinematic discovery. And to make the situation even better, we each had a call button and without that inconvenient airline hassle of having to reach up over your heads. Nope, these buttons are located right next to the twitchy fingers longing to order up some popcorn, nachos, fries, wraps and mocktails, all delivered to the seat and put on the tab for our own convenience. Seemingly miles away from out closest neighbors, it was like watching a film in our private screening room. Of course, these tickets don’t come cheap. As the normal ticket prices are about Rs. 150, these are Rs. 750 each, about the cost of cinema tickets in Europe.

The only downside is that there are only 2 of these in Delhi, so the movie opportunities are not huge, but we are hoping to be cheering and raising our Mock-o-politans to Carrie and the girls from our incredibly luxurious seats.

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