Well, as they say, movie is a religion in India (by the way, who the hell are "they"? ;)) I think its very hard to find a person who is completely uninterested or ignorant about movies. I was just thinking about how my movie journey has been. As a kid, it was just the occasional movie we were taken to during some sundays. I dont remember feeling any movie as "bad" at that time. Typically a movie would have a hero and a heroine. All we needed was a "hero" who could fight. And we used to come back home and replay that fight with my granny's soft pillow, visualizing a villain in that. Then came television, and the sunday movie got added to our basket.
During our pre-teens, our movie watching was pretty much restricted to Sterling and Skyline. These theatres used to screen only English movies then. Apart from an occasional Ten Commandments or a Mackenna's Gold, our syllabus consisted mainly of action movies. Our movie world was full of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris etc etc. School time discussions were mainly about Arnold's biceps and how he uses the sword in Conan the Barbarian!
I feel we had had enough of "action" in the pre-teen period. Teens were dedicated to Bollywood masalas. Our school/college was at a strategically good position, where there were more than 10 cinema halls within 2 km radius. What was it that gave us more pleasure - bunking the classes to prove that we were longer kids, standing in the queues for hours discussing filmi trivia or just the thrill and achievement of first day first show. I dont know. During my PU days, I was a regular reader of 6 film magazines every month and thats where I learnt words like "gotcha", "wanna", "gonna". It finally took the most crappy movie of that year called "Raja Hindustani" to enlighten us that movies can be really "bad". I guess probably that was the time when I started viewing the movies critically. The first day first show - standing in the queue craze was gone, as I had started judging the movies.
Surprisingly, the movie viewing intensity had reduced during my BE days. There were the occasional visits to the cinema halls, but we used to be very discreet in our selection of movies. Then, there were VCDs of course. It was the time I started watching some very good international movies (though in very small numbers) like Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful and Good, Bad & Ugly to name a few.
After coming to Bangalore, movie watching became a routine weekly activity. Any movie released that week, lets go. Just for timepass. Its so boring otherwise. Oh yes, that was the logic. I had even seen a lousy movie called 'Muskaan' (yes, I am still ashamed of it!) It was after 'Muskaan' I guess, I decided that I would rather devote time to do other things than just watch movies for timepass. I was growing!
And then the trip to US changed my whole outlook towards movies. Lot of time at hand, heavy snowing outside - I had to take refuge in movies. I watched the movies of Scorsese, Hitchcock, Tarantino, Copolla, Woody Allen, Kurasawa, Bergman etc. etc. Noir movies, existential movies, surrealist movies - french, italian, spanish, japanese I had ventured into almost all categories. People who have interacted with me in the last two years would have realized how obsessed I have become with movies and how I cannot continue a conversation without bringing reference of a movie (my room mate recalls now that for almost a month, I used to say "Whhoo-aah, liar liar your pant is on fire" like Al Pacino, while brushing my teeth) To me, movie is no longer a timepass. Its an art, its an expression and its an adorable obsession! A movie should touch me, challenge me, haunt me, teach me something new or it should at least make me think. Yes, I now watch movies only for that cinematic experience!
Why I wrote this painfully long writeup? (And I am not done yet!) As I look at myself, I realize that I have grown from a kid who used to fight with pillows to an objective greedy cinegoer whose expectations have soared. I sometimes expect the whole world to be mature. And I am thoroughly disappointed. Why? I was reading some blog, where that author had criticized the movie "Sivaji". And he was getting lot of hate comments and his orkut account was also attacked. Now, you can like someone very intensely, but what prevents you from listening to an alternate opinion (you just need to listen, you need not agree) Now, if someone comes and tells me that Al Pacino was a bad selection for Godfather or Annie Hall was the worst comedy movie of all times, I may argue with him, but I would definitely allow him to express his opinion (though I would rate him as a cinematically dumb person in my mind!) Now, why do these "fans" behave that way? Why do they think that their "idol" is God and beyond criticism? Why do they want some "idol" in the first place, whom they want to emulate? And why is this idol worshipping a very south Indian phenomenon? As these questions start popping up in my mind, I remember this quote from Voltaire - "I strongly disagree with what you say, but I'll die to defend your right to say so". Why cant we be like that?