I wrote this piece for thREAD, The Hindu’s online space for perspectives, opinion, comment and essays. Here’s the thREAD link: This piece on thREAD
As Finding Dory ended, I was surprised to find two words appear on screen that I haven’t seen appear on screen – Hollywood, Bollywood, or any wood – in a long, long time. ‘The End’, that too in lowercase, if I remember correctly. People of course had started exiting before that, once they had got their, and Dory’s, happy ending. But if you see a lot of movies, especially animation ones, and especially Hollywoodian, you know that ‘the end’ – whether that text appears on screen or not – is never the end. For after the credits finish rolling, at the ‘real’ end, and just before the production / distribution company logo, there typically is a bit more of the movie, a fun mini after-movie, if you will – a tiny little sequence around some theme in the movie, or even a side theme or character. In Dory, it was around the sea lions and… But I ain’t telling you more, as you chose to leave the audi before that, didn’t you?
The earliest I remember this trend was from Jackie Chan’s blooper sequences, which was aped by Bollywood and Hollywood alike, until there was no more novelty in it. Also, they were more like behind-the-scenes. I remember cute side scenes and stories from the first two Kung Fu Panda movies. They were like rewards for watching the movie right till the finish. Like this one from Kung Fu Panda 2, which shows how baby Po landed up at Mr Ping’s house.
The superhero movies seem to have picked up on the trend, and taken it further. Marvel’s movies don’t just have rewarding after-scenes, but before-scenes, so to speak – snippets that give a peek into what the next movie could be about. Ant-Man, for instance, first did the Wasp costume reveal and then talked about Captain America: Civil War. (Given how ho-hum Civil War was, they should have continued dwelling on the beguiling Wasp.) Deadpool’s after-scene was in the same irreverent vein as its hero and the movie, Deadpool coming out from the door, not once but twice and popping out a third time, to fool around with prescient lingerers, much to their glee and giving them their full ticket’s worth.
But I have gained more than just fun by staying behind in the audi, being very often the last to leave, even after the cleaning staff have come and wondered why I’m still there; or if in rapt on-screen attention, wondered if I’m dead; or if I’ve shown signs of movement, then almost given me dirty looks to leave and allow them to wrap up their duties quickly.
I have picked up much trivia and information by being a stay-backer. I have noted that most movies with an Arab / Middle East setting, again whether Bollywood or Hollywood, are shot in Morocco (Sex and the City 2 and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation). I have come to know that the end credits of most movies are done by a company called Scarlet Letters, just as the catering company for many movies is one by the name of… Cast Supper.
I have learnt of concepts like ‘production babies’ in animation movies. These are (quite uninspired a moniker, after all) babies born to people working on the movie while working on the movie. I haven’t noticed this for live-action movies, I guess, because animation movies take longer, being all done in a studio. The work, that is; not the baby-making. Or, you never know; maybe that’s why they take so long.
In the recent Marathi blockbuster, Sairat, I learnt that the unfamiliar tongue the male protagonist’s father speaks in for a good two minutes (an apparent mix of a Marathi dialect and Hindi) is Pardhi (through a credit for the language coach), the language of the tribe of the same name living in parts of Maharashtra. (This last part of course was from the net. The movie couldn’t give so much detail, no?)
Watching the end titles of the much-in-recent news Udta Punjab, I happily discovered a song that hasn’t been on the promo loops, is more haunting a tune than Ikk Kudi, and is as message-loaded as the movie itself. Hass Nach Le will make you feel: dus baar sunn le (listen to it ten times over).
While on songs, though I don’t have a big ear for music, I have come to know who the second, more rich-textured but less-promoted singer of a particular melody is, as also the varied instruments used in a soundtrack.
Getting back to animation movies, you experience some familiarity (and take some pride, for whoever this is a thing) in the number of Indian names that crop up in the various animation studios that have worked on that movie, as a lot of animation work is outsourced to India, especially studios in Chennai. For big movies, you also marvel at the number of animation studios that worked worldwide to create that movie.
And in some movies, forget after-scenes, the real movie isn’t actually over when you think it is. This is typically the thriller / whodunit genre, and there was a movie sometime back whose name or story I just can’t recall that really gets over a full 15 minutes after the first time it seems to get over, thanks to a huge twist. Now, who’ll tell this to the couple I saw walking down and out after they felt the movie was over? When discussing the movie the next day with others who had watched it too, they must have wondered if they had caught a different film, and on realizing what they had done, must have kicked themselves on the backside. Or the other’s, depending on whose suggestion it was to “let’s leave before the crowd”.
Speaking of which, and coming to a key point, I just can’t get what the big hurry is for people who walk out as soon as the core movie ends. Is it just one of the many things to do on their weekend / enjoyment list? Are they taking part in some Amazing Movie Race? Needing to reach home before their vehicle turns back into a pumpkin? Or did they come not for the movie, but for, erm, some in-the-dark “to-do”?
But there are also practical reasons why I don’t get up and going, which my friends who are impatiently waiting outside never seem to understand. (Maybe that’s why I end up going for most movies alone. Which also goes with watching so many movies.) I mean, what do you get when everyone leaves at the same time? A bottleneck at the exit. Which gets worse when it’s a 3D movie with you needing to re-deposit the glasses: the queue pretty much goes back up to the passage as the attendants check and count the glasses before letting you leave.
I also don’t get up and go because, to me, the movie-watching process is akin to an exercise session. I come early as warm-up, the movie is the main workout, and the stay-behind is the cool-down. If it’s a good movie, or a delicious slow-burn such as Masaan or Sairat (especially its intensely crafted first half and its chilling end), staying till the last credit allows me to be with the movie a bit longer, savour it a bit more, let it linger in my system. And while others would rush out of a lousy movie, even halfway in some case (Humshakals and Bullett Raja, in recent times, both incidentally starring Saif Ali What-Was-He-Thinking), I stay back in these cases too – to ensure I leave the movie behind in the theatre itself!
Seriously, and this could be the movie-lover in me talking, I wish folk could treat the ending the way they treat the beginning. They put in copious effort to ensure they don’t miss the start (rushing their dads, making frantic calls to their partners, giving ultimatums to friends: “If you come late, I’ll enter without you”). Those who are tardy despite these efforts ask those inevitable questions to those around, “How much did we miss?” and “What happened so far?” Yes, you should enter early for the movie too, if nothing else than for etiquette (not disturbing others with your silhouettes, sounds, and shoe jabs as you sheepishly enter), and for Pixar’s movies, for the cho-chweet short before the flick, which many times is better than the main, like Piper was before Dory. (What, you missed that too? See, now you have to go find Dory again.) However, to not make you feel too sore, here’s a snip.
But a British multiplex (don’t recall which one, as it was from a sea of social-media posts) has perhaps the best reason – from a cinephile’s perspective – for staying back till the end, and why they don’t open the doors until all the credits have finished rolling. They want you to respect the effort of everyone involved in the movie, and not just the top stars. Clearly, no Brexit in this case.
To me, there can be only one time when it’s okay to be in a hurry at the end. If you’re catching another right after. In which case, how about seeing if it’s playing in the same audi? That way, you get the ending of this one, and don’t miss the beginning of that one. Which should be great for you. And for the rest of the audience. Though not for the cleaning staff. Who’ll have to wait for you to leave… twice over.