The European Film Festival is happening in Delhi, just like it did last year. And I gladly go to watch some never-before-seen-in-these-parts foreign films. I've had a pretty decent run uptil now, but today's experience just blew that out the water.
Today's film was a Spanish one called Ficcion. The title appears "Ficcion" (subtitle: Ficcion). While I'm wondering why the subtitle doesn't read "Fiction", a comment from behind: "Oh, Ficcion matlab Fiction." And right then I knew it was going to be a difficult crowd. But what followed beat all expectations of mine.
The Spanish film inexplicably had Spanish subtitles on. The audience immediately started making noises, an expected reaction. Somebody shouted for the English subtitles to be turned on. People applauded. Somebody started thumping on the table. More people joined them. Other people who had no access to tables clapped loudly. The place was deteriorating. The operator who had left the arena returned and stopped the film. The audience applauded. The film was restarted with English subtitles and when the first English word appeared, the audience applauded again. And the rest of the film was doomed to Indianness.
Now that tongues had been loosened and postures relaxed, random comments started appearing, like this was a cheap Hindi movie that had been made for the front benchers. All subtleties at showing the growing fondness between two strangers were completely lost on these buffoons as they made silly comments on how some camera that the woman was carrying must be a Chinese model camera.
After a sizable portion of the film had passed in this manner, every time a blank screen appeared for even a second, a loud "Khatam" (finished) would emanate from the very sociable gentleman sitting next to me who obviously carried a very high self esteem and opinion about himself and his endearing sense of humour.
The only time there was any sort of silence during the film was a scene where there was a certain amount of sexual tension in the film. It was a beautifully portrayed scene where the man and the woman are very uncomfortable and don't quite know what to say or do, but I could just sense the audience waiting for the steamy sex scene in the foreign film that most of them had quite obviously come in expecting. The Khatam gentlemen even asked the bloke sitting in front to move slightly because he wasn't getting an uninterrupted viewing experience. They were sorely disappointed, much to my delight.
What I don't get is that this was a FREE film screening. Nobody paid any money to buy any ticket. Why couldn't they just get up and leave? One of the reasons I love going for foreign film screenings is that the riff-raff usually don't make an appearance.
Hindi watching Spanish reading English.