“275 per ticket, Madam”, he said.
I gaped at him.
“Recliner seats, Madam”, he said sympathetically.
“Can’t you give me normal seats?” I gasped.
“No, only recliner seats, Madam.”
I rushed into the theatre, determined not to waste a minute’s worth of my 275 rupees. They were still cleaning up after the last show.
Dhanno raised her eyebrows and said, “Mom, they’ll let us know when they’ve finished.”
Once inside the candy-striped auditorium, I pushed the back of my seat.
Dhanno said, “It’s not a bus seat, Mom. Just wait.”
She found a secret switch in the copious folds, and the chair extended, my legs went up, my back slid back.
“More, more,” I said, “that’s enough.”
A little boy passing by squealed, “Daddy, I want a seat like that.”
I was inclined to pull out my tongue at him, but his Daddy pulled him away, reassuring him that his seat was going to be as wonderful as mine.
“Oh no,” I said, as it suddenly struck me, “how will I get up for the National Anthem?”
On the dot, the screen commanded, “Stand up for the National Anthem.” I scrambled out of my seat; the chair lurched with me. Dhanno meanwhile, pressed a switch, her recliner went back to a normal position, and she stood beside me, tapping her foot impatiently while I shook myself straight.
“I almost fell,” I said.
She nodded coldly. I noticed for the first time that the group of actors singing the National Anthem have weird eye-lines, because they are all keyed in. The thought that each actor has been shot separately against a green background depressed me for some reason. I slid back into the chair with relief.
“Should we have some popcorn?” I said.
“No, we’ve just had dinner, and you always say that the popcorn gives you a headache,” Dhanno admonished.
“Will you share the popcorn with me?” I said, ignoring her.
She refused to answer.
I asked the usher next to me, “Could you get me a regular popcorn?”
He said, “Only large, Madam, no regular.”
I sank into the seat, defeated.
“Isn’t this chair like the one Joey has in ‘Friends’?” I said.
“No,” Dhanno said, “That’s a Lazy Boy.”
“This is a Lazy Boy,” I said.
“No, it isn’t,” Dhanno said, “for one, a Lazy Boy is much larger.”
“This is nice too,” I said.
I slid the back further. The ceiling was candy-striped too.
“That’s hypnotic,” I thought.
I woke up from a nap much later, and looked around. Peace prevailed, as people slept on their recliners. Dhanno looked more amicable in her sleep. Only the little boy behind me was awake. He was playing with the switch and had succeeded in turning his recliner into a swing. This time, I did pull out my tongue at him. His Daddy was asleep.
So yes, do go see ‘Toh Baat Pakki‘ if you can book yourself into a recliner chair. If you own a Lazy Boy, then stay home and watch TV instead. Even if you don’t have a Lazy Boy, stay home and watch TV instead.
There’s enough bad acting, screenplays, camera work, music on the small screen to sedate you, you don’t need to go to the theatre for that.