It’s High Time Bollywood Does Away with Intervals
You’re watching this horror film at the theater and just when the ‘ghost’ in the movie is about to kill the dog, you break into the interval. NOOOOO! It’s like a 15-minute-long cliffhanger where you just cannot wait to get back to your seat to find out the fate of the adorable little dog. Well, this is one case. The other could easily be one of the many no-brainer movies that feature the industry’s biggest stars. Without taking any names, I’m sure you’ve thought of more than just one name. Now, imagine yourself watching one of these movies. Halfway through the movie and you probably have judged the movie much more than your friends have judged you for wearing Crocs, which is when you are relieved to have received a 15-minute-break from the torture that is being imposed on you.
Intervals! These 15-minute-long breaks play an essential role in deciding whether part of the audience is going to return to the auditorium or not. Whether good or bad, the movie is discussed, dissected, thrashed, praised, everything in those 15 minutes. Apart from that, intervals give people a break from sitting and, most importantly, allow them the time to finally make up their minds about what they should pick along with a tub of popcorns – a portion of nachos or the garma-garam samosas.
More often than not, certain movies just do not need intervals, in my opinion. Just like unnecessary songs and randomly placed songs, intervals break the entire narrative of the movie. A screenwriter and director, collectively, attempt to make the movie intriguing for the audience. Now, the interval can have only result in two reactions, the audience either like the movie till the intermission or not. For instance, if they do find themselves intrigued by the last shot that they watched before the interval, chances of the movie ending on the same high note isn’t as likely.
Not many are aware that intervals were not actually designed for people to get a break from sitting in their seats and grabbing a bite. As it turns out, in early movies, intermissions were a part of movies to facilitate the changing of reels. Each reel could store only about 45 minutes of the movie, which is why there were more than one reels that were needed to project movies at theaters, hence intervals were introduced. In the West, after the latest technology kicked in, the concept of intervals has been shown the door, however, forced intervals are still prevalent in the Indian film industry. Despite the advanced technology, most cinemas are persistent on having intervals since it gives them a chance to bring in large revenues by means of snacks and beverages.
Whatever the reasons might be, it does affect the cinematic experience. My question is – Do Bollywood films really need intervals? Chalo, I understand there are movies that are three-hour-long but even then, my question stands.
Vikramaditya Motwane’s thriller Trapped was merely a hour-and-forty-five-minute long. Now, if you’ve watched Trapped, you would agree with me that the interval was extremely forced, abrupt and that it really wasn’t needed. I don’t see the point of people wanting to get a break from watching a movie that is not even two-hours-long. Much against the wish of the director, there was an interval introduced by the cinemas, breaking the narrative of the movie just for the heck of a tub of popcorn.
At the risk of her life, Neerja Bhanot, a flight attendant with Pan American World Airways, saved the lives of the passengers after her flight was hijacked by a team of terrorists. An emotionally draining story of a 23-year-old Neerja, made people feel proud of her and at the same time made us cry. With tissues in our hands and teary eyes, I don’t think the two-hour-long biographical drama needed any interval.
The Lunchbox, who can forget this Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur-starrer light-hearted romantic drama? Although the movie did break for an interval at an appropriate point but was it necessary? I would rather watch the one-hour-forty-five-minute-long movie in one go.
The two-hour-long psychological thriller movie starring Radhika Apte literally had me gripped to my seat, hiding my face in some scenes, looking forward to some, but never wanting to wait for the movie to just abruptly pause.
Movies like Pink, that speak so loudly about sexual abuse that women are subjected to, attempt to highlight different shades of the double-standards of the society that we, Indians, live in. Over the course of its screenplay, they try to get the audience involved with its script, dialogues, and the actors’ performance. After being so engrossed in the movie, the last thing you want is to lose track of it and feel heavy in the heart till the screening resumed. Did this one need an interval? No. Na ka matlab na hi hota hai.
This critically acclaimed movie that won Manoj Bajpayee a Filmfare Award for Best Actor is based on the life of professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras. Again, a movie that is under two hours long doesn’t need an interval.
You might think that most of these movie are slightly over or under two hours but there are many other movies like Dangal, the Baahubali series, M. S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, and Sairat that can be added to the list, and the same logic applies to all of them. What intervals usually do to the movies is break the narrative and the audience’s link as well. Back in the day, we weren’t technologically well-equipped but now that we are, let’s not ruin the cinematic experience of movies in general.
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