Last week, a group of friends dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the theatre to watch Premam. Again. My resistance, of course, didn’t have much to do with the film itself; I had fallen in love with it as quickly as Premam’s protagonist, George, does with Mary. But at a time when films come and go, like girlfriends in George’s life, it becomes quite difficult to rationalise watching a movie a second time. And movies, unlike the pazham pori that George and friends have in their college’s canteen, are expensive affairs.
A couple of tickets set you back by three hundred bucks, but it’s not just the tickets, is it? What’s a movie without some popcorn? And what’s popcorn without something to dunk it down with? There’re also, of course, the travelling and parking expenses, and you wake up to the realisation that a film costs you roughly as much as buying ‘Malar miss’ a settu mundu would. Oh, and there are more arguments for why you probably shouldn’t watch a film again. You see, it is estimated that more than 1,50,000 titles were released worldwide just in 2015, and though the general consensus is that five per cent of all the movies are of good quality, let us, for our purposes, assume pessimistically that it is not five, but just one per cent. That’s almost 1,500 good films releasing every year across the world. We would have to watch about three films every day to try and keep up. Movies for your son’s achievement. Movies for your parents’ anniversary. Movies for your dog’s birthday. Yet, you’ll still likely fall short. And in this gloomy situation, I was being taken to watch a film a second time! Can that decision be justified at all?
Well, interestingly, as I pleasantly discovered, it turns out it can. You see, no matter how rested you may have been, and how attentive you are, you can only consume so much when watching a movie the first time. It’s often only during the second viewing that you absorb the details better. You can hum along, not just with the songs, but with the background music too.
In Premam, for instance, you notice the number of times the opening instrumental portion of ‘Rockaankuthu’ gets played in the background, before George and gang dance on stage to the actual song. You notice that naughty, impish grin Nivin Pauly lets out every time he talks about a girl he has eyes for. You notice that except for a bottle of absinthe at the end, the alcohol consumed by George and friends are generally from an unbranded glass bottle. You notice the peculiarity of a left-handed man (George) in a fight scene. You have more time in which to savour the lingering shots of sparrows during the Celine phase. And of course, you are also more invested in little Celine’s reactions during the Mary phase. You also understand why Celine, when she meets George for the first time at Agape Café, gazes upon him with familiarity. Incidentally, you notice what an odd name Agape is, and learn that it’s a Greek word for love. And then, in some tiny, yet deeply satisfactory manner, the movie seems to be more complete; its world more vivid.
Falling in love with a movie is like the appreciation of the human body in a way. You begin by getting impressed with the sum amount of all the features. And then, sometime later, you notice the details — the high cheek bones, the height, the sharp nose. But what stays with you in the long run, if you stay long enough, are the even smaller details — like the crinkles near the eyebrow, like the clumsy gait, like the way they often mispronounce/misuse a word. Perhaps they say mallipoo, when they mean mullapoo. Your love for them, over a long-enough timeline, encompasses those small, quirky details too. After all, when you love something, you want to take in the minutiae. And that includes films. Don’t really worry about missing the other 1,490.