There are few things as relaxing as sitting in a cool dark movie hall, waiting for the film to begin. An anticipation of a good story, some laughs or goosebumps. To be immersed in another universe for two hours. Just you and the screen. Of course, you need popcorn, you need cola and some coffee to keep you company. These movie going staples – popcorn and cola, are perfect accompaniments when you are sitting in the dark, engrossed in a movie. There is no co-ordination needed to take a fistful of popcorn to your mouth, the straw at the end of your cola glass makes sure you don’t spill. There is no slip between the cup and the lip.
Now imagine, you are sitting in the hall, and your neighbour decides to have a snack. More specifically, your movie mate has packed more than a sandwich, maybe some spicy snack with a gravy. The smell is over powering, but you sit politely. The lights come on and you see you are surrounded not just by people eager to discuss the film’s plot line, but to open even more tiffin boxes. Sounds like a nightmare right? This could be a reality, especially in movie halls in Mumbai, if the state allows users to take their own snacks inside movie halls.
Yes, watching movies today is an expensive affair. For a family of four, watching a movie includes paying over Rs 1000 for tickets and then buying expensive tubs of popcorn and cola. But a movie hall, is a dark space. We, are not the most dexterous bunch and surely trying to eat badly packed ‘
chaat’ in a dark space is going to cause a lot of spillage. And where is the space to keep your ‘tiffin’ and water bottles? It is a confined space, with everyone in smelling distance of the next. Would everyone really appreciate the strong smells, that a big packed lunch gets along? Also, a family will ‘share’, and that would mean a lot of ‘whispering’, not exactly the perfect audio to go with the surround-sound Dolby system. Letting outside food in at a movie hall, is nothing short of disaster. Yes, we do get bullied into buying over expensive popcorn and shakes inside the halls. But it is a clean, quiet space, and remains so, since one can easily dust off spilled popcorn or a box of nachos, and the wait staff is ready to assist.
So, what next? How about we bring only homemade popcorn over? Well, with all our familial love, we may see quite a sacks full of it being towed by Mummy, Daddy, Aunty, Bunty…etc, not exactly the stuff you want to hop over to get to your seat, in a dark auditorium. What is the solution, then? The prices of food items sold inside movie halls needs to be regulated, for their prices and nutritional levels. The state government can sit down with hall owners and chalk out a deal that benefits the public. But letting people get their own meals inside, is a recipe for disaster. The only blockbuster movie playing then will be –“Mummy can you pass the
chutney?” I am sure none of us want to watch that.
Are snacks in multiplexes a fundamental right? Sharon Fernandes is a journalist based in Delhi.