Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The US Tamil Cinema Viewer

Updated June 23rd
Added a few more categories based on feedback from readers. Thanks to GP, Prabhu, Srivatsan and MyTurn for the inputs :-)

Having seen my share of Tamil movies in the theaters in the US, I have noticed that we moviegoers can be categorized into some well-defined and not always mutually exclusive groups. So here's a handy guide for the different kinds of people you will see at a Tamil movie theater in the US...

The Waiter - This moviegoer buys tickets for all his friends and ends up waiting for them to arrive.

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will be standing in front of the theater clutching a few tickets in his hand
  • He will be talking almost non-stop on his cellphone as he enquires about where exactly his friends are
  • When it near the movie's start time, he will ask the guy at the ticket counter if there is a way to "hold these tickets for my friends".


The Comedian - The self-appointed humorist for the entire theater, this moviegoer's only aim during the movie is to make fun of the movie.

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will be accompanied by a group of friends who laugh at his jokes, further bolstering his confidence in his own sense of humor.
  • Though ostensibly telling jokes to his friends, he will utter his comments loud enough for the entire theater to hear.
  • He will be strategically seated in the vicinity of a group of single girls whose laughter will give him jenma saabalyam.
  • If he remembered to bring a laser pointer, he will point it on the screen inappropriately


The Critic - This moviegoer, also known as the moviegoer in denial, comes to all the Tamil movies but considers himself above them.

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will make comments like "Why did you guys drag me to this movie?" or "I am just going to sleep. Wake me up when the movie is finished".
  • He will call his other friends to complain that he is stuck watching a crappy movie
  • He will criticize every scene in the film while wishing loudly that he were at home catching up on his sleep.

For the record, this is the guy I hate the most :-)


The Trivialist - The moviegoer with a large knowledge of tamil movie trivia

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will be constantly talking, providing tidbits about every performer on screen
  • He will have no idea what is going on in the movie and will keep asking his friends for the story


The Son - This moviegoer's parents are visiting from India and he has brought them along because 1) he feels guilty that they are home alone and bored the entire week and 2) he wants them to experience "watching a Tamil movie in a US theater".

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will be fidgeting uncomfortably during any sexy or vulgar scenes in the movie.
  • He will be sitting rather quietly during the entire movie
  • He will look longingly at other groups that are clapping, whistling or commenting during the movie while mentioning that "they are spoiling the whole movie-going atmosphere for everybody".


The Newlyweds - This is a couple that just got married and the husband has brought the wife for her first movie in the US.

Defining Characteristics:

  • The wife will usually be wearing a new dress and some jewellery
  • The couple will be on their own and not with any friends.
  • They will pick seats away from the obviously 'rowdy' groups
  • They will watch the movie holding hands and the wife will lean on her husband's shoulder or whisper in his ear quite frequently.
  • They will be among the first to leave the theater when the movie ends.


The Moviebuff - This moviegoer will be seen at most movies and will usually be on his own(sometimes he might be the only one in the entire theater!) since none of his friends shares avid interest in movies.

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will be in his seat quite early since he wants to catch every line of dialog right from the first scene
  • He will never visit the restroom during a song sequence.
  • He will usually move to a different seat one or more times if he is in the vicinity of 'the Critic'.


The Fan - This moviegoer can be seen at all his idol's movies

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will arrive very early and greet all his friends with his idol's latest dialog/gesture
  • He will be hyperactive before the movie starts, talking loudly, laughing and hooting at random
  • He will whistle, clap, cheer, dance when his idol comes on screen and for all the songs, punchlines and stylish gestures
  • He will exit the theater saying "Super Padam"


The Parents - The moviegoers who bring their too-young kids to the theater

Defining Characteristics:

  • Only one of the two parents will be in the seat watching the movie at any given time. The other will be with the child in the lobby
  • They will regularly chide their children asking them to "Sit down", "Not run around", "Be quiet", etc.


The Disruptor - The moviegoes who spoils the moviegoing experience for everybody in the theater

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will be doing some activity other than the one he is supposed to do i.e. watch the movie quietly. His activities could include arriving late, taking his time sitting down so that he blocks the screen, changing seats, talking on his cellphone and eating loudly
  • He has no patience for sentiments, romance, etc. (however good they may be) and will laugh, boo, howl, etc. at totally inappropriate moments.


The Foreigner - A slight variant of the Critic, he will criticize the movie even if he enjoyed it.

Defining Characteristics:

  • He will enjoy the movie inwardly while putting on a bored expression
  • He will jump on to any scene that resembles a scene in a Hollywood film and will immediately tell his friends about it
  • As soon as the movie ends, he will ask his friends to never call him to a Tamil movie again


So the next time you are at the movies, keep a lookout for all these viewers. And if you see anyone belonging to a new category, just lemme know. This is a work in progress :-)


At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in india, esp. satyam (for movis like indian and run) i was the "galeej party" but in the US, i am the serious movie buff...the movie i enjoyed the most here was virumaandi which was screened at a film festival in LA...

At 12:58 AM, Blogger Kaps said...

Nice effort man!

As Zero said most of these categories (the son category may not be applicable in India) are found all over the globe.

Which category do you belong to?

At 2:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add one more for Indian audience

Thiruttu VCD Thiagarajan - One you will never see in theatres unless it is a movie worth watching only in big screens. Always seen in CD shops every weekend.

At 3:32 AM, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

nice categorization, in india those who make noises and hoot for their stars are the largest group for any popular movie. and there are very few critics. (tamil padamna lava oru madri pappanga inga chennaiilla, aduvom english pesara groupilla)kaps te son category exists in india these ppl watch movies 'famila' and only during weekends.

At 5:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Zero said, this happens everywhere.

What about the Saapatu Ramans?

They will bring some 6 to 7 chips packets. Rip open the polythene making maximum noise, or eat so loud. You end up wondering why the BGM for the movie is so crazy!!!

At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought-provoking post, Balaji.. Nice.. You didnt mention a group that you had already discussed in another post.. Parents who bring infants and 'mobile' children below age 5.

I hate one more class of people: When there is a silent sequence in the movie, such as in a horror movie or some buildup to interesting scene, some howl or scream or laugh loud or choose it as a right moment to make comments.

Some show that they have a laser pointer with them..

At 11:11 AM, Blogger pk said...

LOL, good categorization. where do u belong?

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Krish said...

Actually I don't belong in any of these categories since the last movie I watched (and that too since someone treated me to it) was GoldenEye and you know how long back that was :-)

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji.. one more.. How about someone who brings his/her spouse or a friend to the movie and keeps translating to that person, whose native language is different so cant understand it?

Which one do u belong? Which one u think I belong? May be u guessed right.. yes.. moviebuff..

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

zero, i think back in india people just don't watch Tamil movies if they don't like them. thats their choice. Its only in the US i've seen guys come to the theater and THEN complain about why they came. that irritates me no end!
and u'd be surprised how many ppl belong to the 'waiter' category here, esp. for popular movies!

mav, indian theatersna i can think of a few more. mainly 'lovers'... the ones who occupy the corner seat ;-)

srivats, yep. u just reiterated my first comment :-)

ferrari, good one. will include him in the planned update :-)

gp, that was one i initially had in mind. but somehow slipped my mind when i wrote the post. thanx! will include in planned update.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

asokan, sorry... if u don't actually go to the theater u cannot be included in 'the critic' group :-)
and if that sounds pretentious then i'm guilty too. which irritates my wife when i refuse to FF scenes in ANY movie!

my turn, thanx for commenting. i used to know a few in that category too. i remember one of them said he didnt like 'zorro' since it was like a tamil movie. that was the main reason i liked it!

thennavan, appo how about your last tamil movie on the big screen?

gp, another good one :)

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

oh... and i used to be one of the 'waiters'. and now it should be pretty obvious which 1 i am :-) the moviebuff ofcourse.

and that comment on being the only 1 in the theater was based on personal experience. i saw 'virumbugiren' all alone in the naz theater in fremont :-)

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Ram C said...

it is apt that you have classified under 'movie buff' category


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