With Tropical Cyclone Thane bearing down on the coast of Chennai our regularly scheduled touristing options were pretty much dead. Well, I suppose we could have gone with the plan of checking out the waterfront and the lighthouse, and we would have seen them really in action, but the waterlogging we would have to accumulate to do so was less than appealing. And so began our quest to visit the local cineplex.
Thanks to the advice of a good friend and Chennai native we learned that it is possible to have the hotel call over to the movie theater and arrange the ticket purchase – and even delivery – rather than dealing with the queues at the theater. Sounded great, but there was a problem. Turns out the concierge at the hotel wasn’t very good and the movie was mostly sold out and most theaters in town that day. He basically couldn’t find us seats, and every time he did they seemed to disappear as he called us to confirm.
Back to square one. Thank goodness for the internet. The theaters we were looking at all had online booking systems. And there were a couple aggregator sites, too. This meant that we were actually able to find theatres showing the movie and which had seats available with a quick search rather than having the concierge calling them individually. We actually found a few showings with seats and went to book. Of course, it took us three different sites until we found one that actually worked throughout the process, but eventually we got that part squared away. For only Rs. 120 (~USD$2.40) each we were going to the movies. And I’m also now apparently a member of the INOX frequent guest program. Not sure about elite status yet, but I’ll see what I can figure out.
We hopped in a tuk tuk/auto-rickshaw in the rain and hoped for the best as we made our way to the theater. I’ve heard plenty of stories about the theaters in India, with rather chaotic scenes inside. I was expecting a bit of the worst.
- Yes, there were three levels of ticket takers, each checking the previous and issuing a new one, all for the same seat.
- Yes, they checked our bags going in and confiscated the battery of my camera (but not my mobile) and my wife’s granola bar, issuing us a claim tag to recover them later.
- Yes, there were people talking randomly throughout the movie, on mobiles or otherwise, and no one seemed to care.
- Yes, they turned up the volume on the movie excessively loud to compensate for the above noted talking.
- Yes, there was an intermission. Not timed for a break in the show but per the clock, leading to an awkward pause in the heat of an action scene.
- Yes, there was an awesome collection of snacks available. Not just popcorn (which was also there) but samosas and roti and other "normal" food that wasn’t complete junk.
It was a bit crazy, no doubt, but also mostly quite civilized. Maybe because we went to an English-language film (almost certainly actually the reason) or maybe because it was a "fancy" theater. Awesome experience (and horrible movie) and one I’m completely happy I got but a bit less extreme than I was expecting.
Maybe next time we’ll step it up and try for the more authentic, "local" version and see what happens.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.