Interval in a cinema hall screening a Bollywood film in the 1970s

Now that multiplexes (and piracy) have altered our movie watching experience for good, ever wondered what it was like inside a theatre back in the heydays of the single-screen theatres? To know/relive that experience Krishna Shah’s 1979 quasi-documentary Cinema, Cinema is a recommended watch. Shah (who also directed the 1978 film Shalimar) tells the story of Hindi cinema (the term Bollywood was just introduced and was yet to gain currency) narrated by leading Hindi film stars on the silver screen before a house full of motley moviegoers.

One of the highlights of our movie watching experience, irrespective of whether it is a single-screen or a multiplex, is the interval. It’s then when we go out to fetch the popcorn and cola and also take (time and bladder permitting) a leak.

One of the best things about the old single-screen experience was that the snacks were not as exorbitantly priced as in today’s plush theatres. I miss the Rs 2 popcorn in little transparent plastic packets and Thums Up/Gold Spot in the glass bottles

Almost all films have one interval (though Sangam and Mera Naam Joker had two), and in many films it happens at a time just before something crucial is about to unfold in the plot. Something that made me skip the loo break many a times, to much discomfort for the remainder of the movie. This is something that hasn’t changed for me in all these years of theatre visits.

The following clip from the Cinema, Cinema captures the essence of the interval that was so much more vivacious three decades ago than it is today. Must watch, I say.