Indian Audience

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

While watching Dil Chahta Hai in a theater in Delhi with friends, I remember very clearly the entire audience in the theater. The reason I remember them is because they laughed at the right jokes, went silent at the right emotional scenes, snickered at the right moment. These reactions add to the experience of a movie. Dil Chahta Hai stood out from the other typical Hindi movies because the humour and emotions were subtle and relatable. It wasn't the over-the-top reactions that bollywood movies were known for. So, when I saw that the audience were reacting and responding to it in the right way, I knew that we as Indians, were ready for this kinda cinema.

But, maybe I was wrong. Fast forward to 2015, we went to watch Dil Dhadakne Do. The theater had the cliched "NRI audience". The movie has the same subtleties that Dil Chahta Hai sort of pioneered in. There were a couple of  scenes that the audience we were watching with laughed at because they thought that was a joke. When in fact, they were these amazing scenes that showed these subtle vulnerabilities that a woman goes through and the arguments a normal family has.

There's this scene where the character that Shefali Shah plays stuffs herself with chocolate cake and ends up with chocolate icing all over her face. This scene was so well taken. It showed the struggle the character has with food and her emotions. And I heard people laughing out loud because they thought that was a joke. And the other scene, where the entire family is inside a room and they have this huge argument where everyone's blaming the other person. And the people around us laughed, ruining the scene for us.Did they misread the cues? What was going on there?

That's when I realized that Indian audience have a long way to go before we start appreciating really good cinema. Not that there's anything wrong with masala movies. I am a huge fan of those too. But, I was hoping that the audience would have gotten better and would appreciate movies which explores real person's struggles and relationships a little better. And that they would appreciate the subtleties of emotions. Oh well, at least that doesn't stop good movies from being made. Kudos to all the directors who haven't given up on the Indian audience!

photo credit: Liam playing peek-a-boo at Myer Melbourne via photopin (license)

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