Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dark Night: Newly Opened and Desperate for a Sale

A mannequin with a light inside it: A ludicrous way of ensuring footfalls.

It’s been pouring for the last four or five days. The sun is rarely to be seen and the sky is a uniform grey, as if it has been varnished by a brush dipped in grey paint by God himself. It’s on such a grey and gloomy evening that I go to the newly opened Adlabs multiplex in Kharghar, near where I live, to watch the Dark Knight.

And what a Dark Night it was! Now, Kharghar has developed faster than CBD Belapur, though Belapur was supposed to be the Central Business District of New Bombay. The real estate agents have unnaturally hiked the property prices in this area touting it for its nearness to the New Bombay airport and for being the location where the movie Dhoom was shot (both part 1 and 2). There are two faces to this area: one is the undeveloped villages where life is a struggle and the other is the ritzy housing estates, malls and multiplexes. They exist in an uneasy compromise of raw potholed roads and smoothly paved smooth expressways, on which the films Dhoom were shot. The road leading to the multiplex is unlit and potholed and this compounds my misery further.

The huge mall had just opened and what I could see was lots of knocking, hammering, and paint-spattered workers busy with their work, scraping, painting, moving, cleaning, and everything they do so messily, which – lo and behold! – turns out to be such dazzling spaces when they are done. Yeah, the same was going on.

There were all kinds of shops: Woodlands (I am wearing one), Levis, More, etc. with huge spaces which will soon fill up with products. I am wondering, but where will the money come from? There isn’t a housing complex near the mall, and it is far from the station. How will people reach here? Must warn them fellas, don’tcha think?

I see the movie, which has a good storyline, but halfway through I get so turned off by the relentlessness of the violence and gore, that I remove my shoes in the darkness, raise my feet on the seat – seems theatre is empty and nobody’s watching – and quietly doze off. Shortly, I wake up. The hall is half empty and the movie is still playing. I wonder who will fill up the nice seats that swivel forward, the aisles lit with strips of red light and the stereos booming in my ears.

When I exit the theatre rather dazed by the movie and the price of popcorn (Rs 60 a medium-sized pack), I am followed incessantly by a salesman when I enter a prestigious electronic equipment vendor’s showroom. I am still dazed! I tried to shake him off saying I am just looking, but he won’t take the hint. The reason: they opened today and are desperate for a sale.

Oh God! There’s such desperation on the saleman’s face that I feel sorry for him. The guy is nearly in tears! But I don’t want anything such as: computers, water heaters, toast poppers, surround sound systems, cellphones, more computers, televisions, etc. that he has on offer. I have them all.

All I can hope and wish for him is that the theatre and the showroom fills with consumers soon, and that they break even and recover their investment in expensive space, glass, airconditioning, salaries, etc., etc.

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