Like every other film fanatic, Natasha Diddee loved her weekly movie outings. Last week, she booked a couple of tickets for Sully for the 6pm show at her preferred movie hall, Cinepolis, in Seasons Mall, Pune. The seats next to her were occupied by a couple and their toddler, who obviously did not want to be there.
A few minutes in, the kid was screaming and wailing, making it impossible for Natasha, or anyone else, to understand the A-rated movie. Natasha, who was at the theatre with her husband, stayed patient till the interval, and used the break to speak to the couple about the situation. Never did she think that a 'polite' conversation could turn into one of the worst experiences of her life. According to Natasha's Facebook post, she turned to the couple and politely suggested that they take their child out, calm him down, and bring him back in.
The parents, instead, took offence and began screaming at her in front of everyone.
Natasha told Vagabomb, "I was polite and patient, but I don't know what came over the couple, who immediately stood up and started accusing me of all kinds of things. The language, the tone, everything was beyond pathetic. My husband is an expat who has lived in the country for over a decade now. Never have both of us heard ridiculous shit like, 'Tum yeh gore suaron ko yahaan leke aa rahi ho. Sharam karo, humein matt batao kuch.' I was beyond shocked."
Thankfully, others in the theatre intervened and asked them to behave. "Everyone around us agreed that they were disturbed but, despite this commotion, nobody from Cinepolis intervened. The couple walked out because of the embarrassment and we thought that the ordeal was over. Ten minutes later, the authorities finally woke up, came to our seats, and asked us to step outside because this couple had complained against us!"
In the commotion, the woman made false allegations of molestation against Natasha's husband. They made a police complaint, which shocked Natasha and other audience members. Natasha shared, "I couldn't believe what was happening. Thankfully, some audience members accompanied us to the help desk and supported our statements. They told the cops and the authorities that the couple was faking the entire episode. But, even then, the Cinepolis staff and the cops kept asking me to apologize and get done with the matter at hand."
Natasha posted the entire incident on the theatre's Facebook page, which has been shared by her friends and family members. Seeing this, senior officials from the brand finally reached out to her and tried to apologize.
Vagabomb reached out to the Cinepolis team, and Devang Sampat, Director, strategic initiatives, Cinépolis India, shared this vague, evasive statement with us:
“Cinépolis India is a law abiding organization and it’s committed to each and every guest that comes to our multiplex. Our staff is trained to analyze the situation, keeping in mind the safety and peaceful environment of our guests. The recent incident of a child allowed in the theatre (who was 16 months old as confirmed by the parents) adhering to the ‘Cinematograph Act 1952; as per which “The exhibition of a film, in respect of which an “A” certificate 3 or a “S” certificate or a “UA” certificate] has been granted, to children below the age of three years accompanying their parents or guardians shall not be deemed to be an offence within the meaning of this section.” Our team adhered to the company’s norms and followed the Cinematography Act 1952.”
The brand is using existing laws to justify why they allowed the child in the movie hall in the first place. But there's still no explanation behind why they didn't intervene during this mess and help a customer who was in trouble. But the bigger lesson here is for movie-goers around the country. We've all complained about noisy kids in movie halls on many occasions, but without knowing the laws involved. Now that you do, we suggest approaching the situation more cautiously.
In the meantime, here's hoping someone writes a book on movie hall etiquette for everyone to follow.