Thursday, June 28th, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
This afternoon we went to see a Bollywood blockbuster called “Rowdy Rathore” which is showing on screens everywhere we have travelled. This is now the 4th largest grossing movie in Indian history. The lead actor sort of looked like an Indian Tom Selleck of Magnum PI fame.
Rowdy Rathore is a Bollywood action comedy and the boys and I really enjoyed it. Kelly got a bit bored. The movie is almost all in Hindi with no subtitles, but you can follow the plot pretty easily. At a couple of points in the movie, the star says to the bad guy “Don’t angry me!” and this is the tagline of the movie.
Beyond the movie, the theater and cinema going process were experiences in themselves. To start with there are separate queues for men and women and we were advised that the women’s queue is much faster, so we had Kelly buy the tickets. It looks like at one point there were 4 price levels for tickets - but at least for our showing there were two – diamond and emerald. Diamond cost RP120/$2.10 per ticket and emerald was RP70/$1.22. For the extra money we got to sit up in the balcony and had our own waiting lounge and refreshment bar. Unfortunately we (and all the Indians waiting to see the movie) had to deal with several children trying to beg from those in line. It really is very sad to see people in such abject poverty.
Once you have your tickets, you enter into the general lobby (see above camera phone image) which is a very large vestibule. For diamond patrons you go upstairs to a separate lounge with velvet cushioned benches while you wait for the cinema to open. Interestingly prices at the snack bar were on a par with places outside the cinema. As a simple example, a bottle of water is usually about RP15-20 on the streets and cost only RP25 at the theatre. In a restaurant, this is usually between RP30 and 60, so you are not getting gouged by any means.
Inside the cinema we had our own reserved seats that reclined. The place is huge – easily the largest cinema I have ever been in. I think the capacity is upwards of 500 people. There is only one screen, which plays the same movie several times each day.
The place is very well worn – the carpet was tacky on my shoes, which was a little gross! But you certainly get your money’s worth at the movies in India. The film started at 3:30 and after only one preview (Hollywood, can you take note?) the film began. The image quality and sound were excellent – at first I thought this might even be a digital screening, but I later realized it was actually film. However, the picture quality was better than anything I have seen in the States or Europe before digital projection.
After about 75 minutes there is an intermission, followed by another short preview and then the film continues to it’s conclusion. We were out of the theater about 6:15, so probably a solid 2.5 hours of movie.
If you’ve ever seen a Bollywood movie, this follows the formula – handsome cool lead actor has a crush on the pretty leading lady. Lots of action/fighting takes place, interspersed by a few non-sequitur dance scenes.
By the way, speaking of Indian movies, I watched one called “Delhi Belly” on the flight from the UK to India. It is not a typical Bollywood movie – it is a sort of thriller gangster comedy, something along the lines of “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” or a Quentin Tarrantino movie. If you like that sort of thing, you should check it out – I know it is on Netflix.