Popular Culture: Anupam Single Screen Theatre
Duration: 00:20:11; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 28.318; Saturation: 0.057; Lightness: 0.245; Volume: 0.410; Cuts per Minute: 6.239; Words per Minute: 56.795
Summary: A projectionist describes his work with an old carbon arc projector, in an old single screen theatre in a Bombay suburb. He talks of how he came into this profession, and how his love for cinema finally led him here. He remembers old films he has seen. He talks in detail about the projectors and the work he does on them and the skill it requires. He talks of how films have changed.
In the context of the almost virulent spread of multi screen multiplexes, old single screen theatres are fast losing business. This small suburban theatre barely survives, showing a combination of B grade films, some regional films. But the projectionist is an old worker with a love for the machine he works on, and a keen understanding of it.
Camera moves in empty cinema foyer. The outside is briefly seen through a closed grill. A man sweeps the empty foyer. Another man vigorously cleans the counter
Cameraman: Stand to your right
Cameraman(to man wiping counter): Keep doing our work.
Exterior of the theatre, posters of film called "Laila" and of one regional film. A dark green Fiat stands parked before it. Blue sensual image of a man and woman in one large poster. Two men stand staring. Two sit by the stairs at the entrance to the theatre, talking. One young boy carrying a mobile phone runs in through the half open grill. Another man sits by the gate, looking at the camera..
Outside the theatre gate is daylight, a BEST bus, a cart selling gulab jamuns, a man standing by a table selling lottery tickets. A small retaurant across the road called Hotel Sainath. A smatteringof traffic and people outside. Afternoon light. The camera pans up to see the name of the theatre in plaster, details of the building that might date back to the 1970's, are also revealed
A part of the façade, with some of the name of the theatre showing and also some of the plaster work above. A small notice, unclear in the sun, about the sound facilities of the theatre.
No Admission, stairs, woman, corridor, airy, landing, rooms, film, trunks, spool, window, sunlight.
The camera goes up a small flight of long stairs, a woman sweeps at the top. A trouser clad woman holds open a door on which is a prominent sign No Admission.
The door is held open, closes behind her, then is opened again, the camera travels up two flights of stairs, past a bright sunlit landing. It reaches an airy corridor, over which some clothes are hanging, high above. There is a wooden bench, a cane chair, a large wooden window to an inside room. The camera skims past one door and stands looking into another, where some trunks, of film cans can be seen, and a empty film spool.
Cameraman: This is the focus dada?
Camerman: What arc is it, a carbon, or zenon?
The camera stares into the back of the projector, a white light suffuses all the neat parts of metal. The cameraman speaks to the projectionist, and then the camera travels along the side of the machine, till, past a duct like structure, it reaches the lens, in a metal of a golden colour, with numbers etched on its rim.
Dialogues of the film
Man: My brothers have cheated me, Baba. Enlighten them, Baba. They have destroyed me.
Baba: Nothing will happen. Those who wish to harm you, will get enlightenment only when you pray to Maa Chandi
The front of the lens is reflected in the glass before it. The camera moves to a side, and looks out of another transparent opening in the wall, to where the film being projected in the theatre can be seen. The sound of the film, unclear till then, becomes clear now. The image seems to be of a group of people sitting around a central figure. Camera returns to the projection room, where a man is readying a second projector. He is carefully, manually linking the film from one spool to the second one, fixing it into place at various points in its path. At the first projector, the projectionist watches as the reel is coming towards an end.
Interviewer talks to the projectionist in the projection room.
He talks about his work and what can go wrong it the projectionist is not paying attention.
Interviewer: What do you call that instrument?
Projectionist; Rewinder, Power rewinder,
Interviewer: You learn that first?
Projectionist: yes, then print setting.
Interviewer: Someone teaches you
Interviewer: How long did that take you?
Projectionist: Print setting, carbon set, to learn it all, one month.
Interviewer: Can there be some mistakes in print setting?
Projectionist: Of course it happens
Projectionist: Suppose the machine is on, and my attention is more on you. After a while, there will be whistles in the auditorium(smiles)
You know of that, don't you?
Projectionist: There are whistles. I showed you that rod, how it works, if it becomes long, like this, it goes
Cameraman: By rod, you mean carbon arc
Projectionist: Yes, carbon arc
Cameraman: A carbon arc is still used?
Cameraman: Not Zenon?
Projectionist: There is no Zenon here. There is Zenon everywhere else.
Cameraman: So what do you think the Zenon is good,
Cameraman: or the old carbon?
Projectionist: Carbon is good, Zenon does not have the same light as carbon. If the distance is less, then the Zenon is good, but the distance is so much here, a Zenon wouldnot give such good light.
Cameraman: Sometimes film catches fire, why is that?
Projectionist: Suppose the projector stops. There is an automatic shutter, if it does not open for some reason, then the film burns
Woman's voice: Has it ever happened?
Projectionist: No, it is automatic, the shutter. If I start this machine, that machine's shutter will open. Meaning, you won't come to know inside. You sit to watch a film, a reel goes on for fifteen minutes only. I will keep this ready on the start mark. I start this, and that will go off.
You won't come to know inside the theatre, only I will know. Now if I make the smallest mistake, if I am looking at you, and then the mark goes, the whistling will start.
Projectionist: Main thing is the mind and the alertness of the gaze
The projectionist talks to the cameraman about the use of the carbon arc in old theatres like this one. He compares the suitability of old and new projectors. He explains how the film catches fire sometimes. He explains how two projectors are used to give the feeling of a continuous film experience. He talks of how the projectionist's alertness helps create that experience of being absorbed in a film.
Interviewer: This work that you do, what do you like about it?
Projectionist: ( he does not
understand the question at the first go)
This is my service, I had an interest in this from childhood
Projectionist smiles: To watch films. Like how you people have..
Interviewer: What is the first film you saw?
Projectionsit: The first film I saw was… Mangal Phera, Gujrati picture
Then I saw Chori Chori, before that, Nastik. In 1958 I saw Tumsa Nahin Dekha
Interviewer: The one featuring Shammi Kapoor?
Projectionist: yes, I saw it here itself
..in 1955 I saw Chori Chori
Interviewer: But what did you like?
Projectionist: Everyone likes.. .like how you like
Interviewer: I like because there is a story, there is music
Projectionist: In Bombay, there is no one, every man watches a film in his unique way
Interviewer: So which way/style do you watch it with?
Projectionist: I watch it with pleasure. The songs and the story.. not the fights
Interviewer: So that is what you like: not the action?
Projectionist: Not action
Woman's voice: How did you become a projectionist?
Projectionist: I had an interest always
Woman's voice: How did you get this work?
Interviewer: he was a wireman first
Projectionist: First I was a wireman, then..
The interviewer asks him what he likes about his work, how his interest started, which were the first films he saw, what kind of films he likes.
The projectionist says that everyone watches films in their own unique way, there is no one in Bombay who does not like films. He mentions he was a wireman before he became a projectionist.
tumsa nahin dekha
The projectionist talks of films he has seen recently, what he has liked. He talks of what has changed in films over time. He talks of his hours of duty, where he stays.
Woman's voice: You were a wireman first?
Projectionist: yes, I learnt that work first, then while I was at it, I learnt this work also.
Interviewer: What film did you like recently?
Projectionist: Zeher. It ran here. Before it ran Charna, Karm.. those were nothing special. Nigehbaan
Interviewer: So what is the difference between films of that time and this?
Interviewer: A lot of difference. That time there were stories, songs, what is there now, violence, sex. Look at this picture, it is just full of sex. What will this old man see in that? But its my service, so I do it.
See, this will close now. It shut off, see? You won't come to know inside the theatre
Interviewer: So how much time, do you spend all day here?
Projectionist: No, we have a duty for two shows, two shows. I have come in at three, I will leave at nine. I have done the show at three, I will do the nine o' clock one.
Interviewer: Where do you live?
Projectionist: I live in Dahisar
This brother will leave now, he came in the morning. In the evening, someone else will come. Actually there are four people. Two in the day, two at night.
sex in cinema
Interviewer: There is lesser public, fewer people, why?
Projectionist: It is because of the films- I was working at this other theatre, Sona, I was there for six-seven years. If there was a hit film..there was no question of leaving. Like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, at Sona, the tickets would sell in black, for a hundred and fifty rupees! So it depends on the film.
Interviewer: Here do tickets sell in black?
Projectionist: Here it is not like that. Not house full. Here the hall is also big, there is a capacity of nine hundred. There, there was only a capacity of three hundred.
The projectionist tells the interviewer that if a film is good, it still draws full houses. He gets to see few full houses at Anupam though, because the theatre has such a large capacity. In the smaller cinema hall where he worked previously, he would see plenty of tickets selling in black for a popular film. .
hum dil de chuke sanam
Interviewer: What do you like most about your work?
Projectionist: Me- actually, I am the son of a carpenter. My family has had carpenters for generations. But I had an interest in mechanical work. First I took on a wireman's work
Interviewer: Didn't your father say something?
Projectionist: He said, but I was clear I did not want to do carpentry, I wanted more technical work. I have not studied much either. That is also why I took to this work. It's been thirty to thirty five years. I have been in this line for thirty five years.
The projectionist talks of how he moved away from his family profession, which is carpentry, how he followed his desire to do something more technical. He has worked at this job, he says, for thirty five years.
Interviewer: Do you see films in other halls, away from work?
Projectionist: Yes. At home, there are grandchildren. They wanted a dvd ( player), I got them one. Now we get cd's see films on that.
Interviewer: You don't go to other theatres?
Woman's voice: You don't go to other theatres?
Projectionist: What to go for? To give money and go to other cinema halls.. can go, but why?
See, look at this, my license, you need a license to run a projector
Woman's voice: He is young
Projectionist: It is from 1974
Interviewer: Arre your sons in this line?
Projectionist: No, they aren't. I had trained one of them. Just so that if he ever needed to, it would come in handy.
I have two sons, two daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, a full family, I live in Dahisar, I am Gujrarati.
Camerman: Are you from Kathiawar?
Interviewer: How do you know?
Cameraman: I have a friend, he is from Kathiawar, he is a Sutar. Woman's voice:She knows..
Cameraman: He is a Voralia. Khambalia.
Projectionist: Yes, Voralia. Khambalia. One can make out the accent- Kathiawari
The projectionist talks of how at his house, everyone watches films on a dvd player. He does not go to theatres any more. He shows his license, which is a photo identity card, with some pride: one needs a license to run a projector. His license dates from 1974. He talks of his children, how he trained one of them in this work, only in case he needed a skill to fall back on. He talks of his family. The cameraman and he have an informal chat about the area he is from, in Gujarat.