It was a Friday, God's sign to all of mankind to forget your worries and plan for a weekend. I was following God's command. I was browsing the site of a multiplex for any good movie that was being released over the weekend.
"Aha!" I said with a childlike excitement as if I had been gifted a PlayStation-3. I had found the perfect movie to watch. I did the needful as I was taken to the online transaction page when I heard a familiar voice from behind.
"Money transaction online! Wah bhai wah! What are you buying?" my colleague asked.
"Booking a movie ticket dude!" I said trying hard to contain my excitement.
"Nice! Planning for a weekend date already? With whom? Anybody from our office?" he asked with a wink.
"No, I was booking just a ticket for myself" I said.
"Just for yourself? Are you going for some aisi-waisi movie?" he asked.
"No way! I prefer watching such movies at home... I mean I don't watch such movies" I tried to clarify.
"Oh, so you are.... really watching a movie at a multiplex.... all... by... yourself?" he said slowly trying to make me feel as if multiplexes only allow couples to watch movies.
By the time he had completed the sentence I could feel that he was rubbing the fact in that only lame people watch movies alone at the cinema.
I was dining at the office pantry with my colleagues when...
"Hey heard about The Social Network getting released today? We should all go for it" Zulu said.
"Yeah, I heard it is a movie on Facebook. Its made by some Finch guy who made Benjamin's Buttons and some movie about fighting" Juliet said trimming her nails.
"Its David Fincher, and its The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And the movie about fighting is known as "Fight Club" a cult classic of our times." I said with a mock nonchalance expecting an applause any minute from everyone dining in the pantry.
But all I got were blank stares from my colleagues.
"Anyway, I am going for The Social Network this weekend. You can read my review at my blog pretty soon" I said as if the whole world would plan to watch the movie only after reading my review.
"Ooh who are you going with?" Juliet asked.
"I am going alone" I said mentally reminding myself that it was not a crime that I was committing.
"That is so sad, awwww!" Juliet said sympathetically rubbing my arm.
"Dude, is all okay?" Charlie asked with a genuine concern. "I mean why alone for a movie?"
"But why not alone for a movie?" I exclaimed.
"Are you a serial killer?" Vishal asked
"Not that I know of..." I said.
"Are you a married man who wants to get away from his fat nagging wife and pain-in-the-ass kids?" he probed.
"No, but that was some really bad sense of humor there" I quipped.
"The only person with a bad sense of humor in this room is YOU! How can you watch a movie all by yourself? That is... Lame!" he said smoking his cigarette with a sophistication that one would relate with Nobel laureates and holders of Ph.D. "Don't you have an ash tray in this dump which you call your room Anuraag?" he said searching for one. "Oh wait a minute... you don't, because your whole room could give an ash tray an inferiority complex. How is that for a sense of humor!?" he said, with a wicked grin and a wink to Kumar.
"Why do you guys have to judge me because I go for movies alone? Why does society have to judge single movie goers like that? We haven't committed any crime! We just want to watch the magic of cinema unfold on the big screen like everyone else. We want to laugh, we want to cry, we want to whistle and we want to clap. But we prefer doing it all by ourselves. We have emotions too you know. Is it a crime?! Is it a crime to ask from the society to not judge us because we spend a weekend at a movie theatre all by ourselves? From the usher, to the guy serving the overpriced popcorn, to the guy making out with his girl in the corner seat... I could feel their eyes looking at me with sympathy as if I am suffering from some disease and have got only two weeks to live" I said, gasping for breath.
"First of all - Bravo! Erin Brokovich for a stirring speech. You are a crusader for the army of lonely movie goers like Joan of Arc. I wish I had your speech taped it so that I could send it to some acting school, and second "The Society of Single Movie Goers Association" would love to make you their president after they hear that speech you just gave." Kumar said with a mock applause.
"Hey its not like I haven't tried asking people out for a movie. I went to a movie recently with someone you know." I tried to explain myself.
"Explain no further if it were a guy. Because it is as good as going alone for a movie." Vishal said.
"It was a girl"
"We are all ears!" They said in unison.
Kids, you ever heard the famous saying "Never miss the beginning of a movie in a cinema hall because there is no rewind button"?. It may not be a famous saying, but it is true that it has happened to us all. We all have missed the beginning of a movie in our cinema going experience and we have always blamed the other person for it. I blamed her too when I missed the first fifteen minutes.
"She must have had a reason" Kumar said.
"She blamed the traffic" I said coldly.
One of the most breathtaking part of going to the movies is to see the lights go dim as the hall is engulfed by darkness. As the operator says "Let there be light... and sound" the giant screen before us lights up with the movie trailers, as the audience falls silent. It keeps the audience guessing on what the forthcoming attractions are. These are the little moments which we always cherish while going for a cinema. We may come out of the cinema hall loving a movie or absolutely hating it. But we cannot ignore that exhilarating feeling of the lights dimming slowly as darkness falls in the movie hall. She had made me miss the trailers of new movies, and a chance to boo at Harry Potter when his trailer was shown. She had deprived me of that exhilarating feeling when the lights had dimmed. And that in my book is akin to butchering a sheep.
"It is not that big a deal as you are making it out to be" Vishal said.
"You must have made the poor girl feel like she had killed someone" Kumar said.
"Why do you have to sympathize with the girl? You guys don't even know her!" I asked.
"Did you at least have the courtesy to buy her something during intermission?" Vishal asked.
"She did not want anything, so I did not buy her any" I said.
Strike One !
"That is what they say! You have to buy them even if they insist not to. Has anybody not forwarded you the mail of what women say and what they actually mean? Do a Google search and you could even find it on the internet!"
"She did not need any because she had put on weight" I said in my defense.
"Don't tell me you used that as a reason to not buy her even a soft drink. Please! please! please!" Vishal begged.
"I just said that she looked like she had put on weight. I was just being her friend with an honest opinion."
Strike Two !
"My dim witted friend, if you really were trying to be her friend you should have told that she looked wonderful and not fat! They can hear anything in the world. But they cannot hear you tell them that they have put on weight." Kumar enlightened me.
"Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood. Only theorems, maps, philosophy and rules for monopoly are written to be understood. Women are not any of those. Its no wonder you go to movies alone. I would be surprised that she even talks to you these days." Vishal presented his philosophy.
"I find it amusing that you are even allowed to talk to other people" Kumar joked.
"So where did you guys go after the movie?"
"We went straight home"
"I like that! Her place or yours?" Vishal asked.
"She went to her place, and I went to mine" I replied solemnly.
Strike Three and Out!
"You guys did not go anywhere? Not even for a cup of coffee?"
"Nope" I replied.
"Why did you even invite her to watch a movie then in the first place?" Kumar asked.
"Hey, I did not know that there are certain "Do's and Dont's" to be followed while watching a movie with someone. Why should there be guidlines to be followed by two friends in watching a two hour movie? Where would all the fun be then?" I asked
"With whom will you argue about movies? Could you imagine anyone watching a movie like Avatar all by themselves? Movies are made to be enjoyed with friends and family and the neigbour's daughter. Especially movies that are larger than life! You will look like a complete nerd if you went to watch a movie like that all alone." Vishal tried to justify.
"There are some movies which appeal to a certain audience and that can be better understood when viewed alone, and I am not talking about porno. I watch movies so that I can review about them in my blog."
"Take a movie like "Inception", as mind-bending as it was would you have felt great for having watched it all by yourself? Picture this: you are in a packed theatre, watching a thrilling story unfold in front of you. It has got surreal visual effects, pulsating action sequences and a chase scene that would make the audience go "Ooh" and "Aah!". But there you are, in that packed audience alone in a crowd with no one to share your feelings with. You got no one to share your excitement with, you got no one to whom you can say "Wow did you see that!?". The only "person" with whom you share your feelings is a flat screen monitor and a bunch of keys that convert words into emotions which you want to display. People read what you felt about the movie. People whom you probably don't even know. And the only way you know that they felt the same way is by their comments. And you don't get more than two or three for every post that you write." Kumar argued
"You need to live a little, take a risk, ask a friend out! Its a big world, learn to share your popcorn!. So what if you end up not liking the movie. You atleast would have had the comfort of knowing that you were sitting next to a person who does not pity you for being alone in a crowded hall. A friend to whom you can say "Wow! what a scene!" It does not matter if you were with a guy or a girl. All that matters is some experiences are ought to be felt with the people you know."
I logged on to the site of the multiplex as I browsed for a movie that I could watch over the weekend. I browsed through the movies that were being played. I clicked a movie whose poster had a pretty looking girl leaning over a guy. It took me to the next page.
Seats it was neatly titled on top of the page.
I hovered the mouse pointer over the number of seats.
I clicked "2".
I took out my mobile and punched the number of a familiar friend.
"Hey, what are you doing this Saturday?"
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