Going to the movies: big fun for many Indians but you may notice some strange things

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Imagine being in a country with over 1.2 billion people. And imagine that a large part of the population is crazy about movies. You could even say that they are mad about movies! India is so movie-minded that it has a major effect on the country. Movies are almost dominant fighting for a place on the frontage of the two serious English newspapers that I read daily. And in the streets I see movies everywhere, on billboards, announcements, in shops, with announcements of the latest blockbusters or the marriage (or divorce) of yet another star. Talking about movies, you might think that it’s all about Bollywood. That’s wrong! Of course, the number of movies that are produced around Mumbai – formerly known as Bombay – is huge. In fact it’s one of the largest film-production area’s in the world! However, the Tamil– and Telegu-language film industry – Bollywood movies are shot in the Hindi-language – is almost as big as Bollywood. Last Saturday I went to the movies. Before you read further I need to do a small confession: It was not a Hindi-, nor a Teleguru-film. I went to an American movie! But I got inside of the temple of the film-industry, the Cinema. I live quite near a fancy mall with an even more fancy cinema: Cinepolis. This cinema is part of a chain, so you will find Cinepolis-cinema’s everywhere in India. It’s not an all-Indian company, Cinepolis is original from Mexico. There are many chains of upmarket cinema’s in India, but you will also find a lot of lower priced options. Going to the cinema in India is different in many ways and it starts with the price. An average ticket in a posh cinema will cost you around 200 INR, a little less than 3 euro’s. Compare that to the average 10 euro that you will need to pay for a ticket in the Netherlands! And there is more…. There are other things completely different! The cinema industry is regulated, with a lot of restrictions and obligations. One thing that I find very surprising is that trailers and commercials are checked by special authorities. Surprising in this case means that they display a special government approval before a trailer or commercial starts. One of the most thrilling events will follow after the commercials. Beautiful music starts and everyone stands up…. It’s a tradition to play the national anthem just before the actual movie. The anthem – called ‘Jana Gana Mana’ – is a very nice piece of music! If’s energizing and the melody is great. During the movie I noticed two other things: when someone in the movie smokes a cigarette they display a very prominent text on screen: ‘Smoking’. And, to finish, some conversations in the movie where partly dubbed. I’m not sure, but I assume that words like ‘Bitch’ and ‘Fuck’ are not allowed in cinema’s. In a way I can understand that, but the funny thing is that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are entering the market over-the-top. How regulated are these services? Probably not. So if you want to watch movies without the national anthem but with some dirty words and a lot of smoking….please use Netflix instead!

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