One of my favourite peeves – cribbing about the cost of popcorn when you go to watch a movie. You pay 200 rupees for a medium-sized tub – the same costs just Rs.25 when you buy at any store outside. Samosas which used to be around Rs.70 for 2, are now anywhere between 100 and 120 rupees. Cold drinks, sandwiches are all priced at almost ten times what they cost in a restaurant. All this, over and above the high cost of the movie ticket.
When the movies shifted from single screen ‘talkies’ to the multi-screen theatres in malls, one was happy to be free of the domination of ‘Lalas’ and blackmarketeers. The multi-screens also gave the movie-goer a wide choice of films in one venue. Also, the comfort of being in an air-conditioned space, shopping, washrooms, food courts where one could hang around. Not that any favour was being done to us. All these sprouted because of the huge number of footfalls.
Everything is priced higher in these malls, but people reconciled considering that it was a nice place to hang out even if one did not buy anything. But the obscene cost of refreshment in the movie halls beats all logic. You are not allowed to carry your own food. When I went to a movie recently with my little nieces, they pointed out that the theatre was extremely cold and they felt hungry every now and then. The movie halls alone are kept cooler than the lobbies or the rest of the mall. A deliberate ploy to sell more refreshments. And what refreshments? God knows when the popcorn machine gets cleaned. When you go for a morning show you will see the previous night’s leftover in the machine and more stuff is added and sold. About the other items – sandwiches, pastries, samosas, coffee – who can tell? The pressing queues at the counters do not allow a buyer enough time to think about all this.
In such a scenario, it was very heartening to read a news item (Mumbai Mirror, 6th April 2018) about a filmmaker who has filed a PIL against the ban on carrying food to multiplexes. One can carry food on trains, airplanes, so why not to movies? The case is being heard.
It will be a happy day, I am sure, for all moviegoers when this ban is lifted. The vendors will come to their senses.