Alone at the movies

Teenage and adolescent in small towns in India, especially for a girl, is pretty boring, or rather it was back in the 90s. Going to the movies was about as much fun and entertainment as we could have. As I grew older, I became obsessed with watching every new release at the theatre. As the stories unfolded on celluloid, I would drift in and find solace from the harsh realities of my life. My preferences changed from romantic comedies to serious issue-based cinema as well as visually spectacular frames. And the popcorn and soft drinks, of course, became my companions.

College days went by very well, with frequent movie outings with friends, cousins, family, etc. But once I started working, my job took me to many different cities, mostly ones where I did not know anyone when I moved in. Most of the time, I could not find any company to go to the movies. So that pretty much reduced my movie outings.

I realized something was amiss. Of course, there are movies aired on television every day, but for me it is not the same as a theatre. That is the only true love of my life- the experience of watching a Hindi movie at the theatre. And I knew this love was slipping away. So, I needed to do something about it. I decided to go watch a movie alone, yes alone! It seemed a little crazy at first, or may be just awkward. How could I go alone? What if I met someone from work there? What would they think? All these thoughts sort of got permanent residency in my head. I was scared of being judged. But hang on, not being able to go to the movies was even worse. So, I just decided to go alone.

First time I booked online, to avoid the awkwardness of buying just one ticket at the counter. And I went, thinking that no matter what, I’ll enjoy myself. It had been 7-8 months since I had been to the movies.  I walked into the mall and took the elevator. At the security check, the guard gave me a confused look when I handed him my ticket. I smiled and walked past. I bought soft drinks and popcorn, went in and took my seat.

As people were walking in and settling down, some gave me weird looks. I decided to ignore. As the lights dimmed and the titles started rolling on the screen, I lost all the apprehension that I was feeling. Then it was just the screen, the popcorn and me. I was happy! Smiles, tears, laughs, affection, awe: I felt all these and most of all I felt alive! At intermission, I got some ice cream. I mean why not? I was having fun. I bumped into some acquaintances and when they asked who I came with, I very confidently replied, “I have come alone”. I did not even bother with their reaction.

At the end, I walked out feeling very happy, confident and proud of myself. But I also felt stupid for not being able to do it earlier. Why did I wait for so long? I went ahead and had dinner at one of the fast-food joints at the mall. There was no more hesitation or awkwardness. I knew I was being stared at but it ceased to bother me.

I realized that my happiness depends on me, not on anyone else. So, I need to take charge of my life. Today I actually enjoy going to the movies by myself. Born out of necessity, this step made me a more confident woman and the after effects reflect in all aspects of my life. So, ask yourself, what is it that makes you happy? Do more of it. Get over your fears, apprehensions and take that first step. You will never regret it.

Anahita Suri, Assistant Professor, School of Fashion Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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