The glittering confetti that soared to the ceiling as the magic title ‘MGR’ popped on screen was of course reminiscent of the traditional ‘first day, first show’ experience inside a cinema hall. But the jostling, the queues, the noise and chaos that were also associated with a typical MGR movie opening show of yore were, however, missing as the digitally restored version of the 1965 Tamil film, Aayirathil Oruvan (One in a Thousand Man) was released here on Friday.
Despite several new films seeing the light of the day the same day, the freshly minted 49-year-old blockbuster opened in over 120 screens all over the state. In a near-packed standalone downscale cinema hall in Chennai, many who turned up for the noon show seemed to have already seen and savoured the film when it was released first. In the 14-seater box, where the ticket rate is as high as Rs 50, almost everyone should be over 50 years.
With no youth to enact the hyper-charged drama that usually unfolds at cinema hall and multiplexes when new flicks are launched, the sprawling campus in Vadapalani was a scene of quietude as people trickled in alone or as twosomes or small groups. There were no boisterous groups of friends vrooming in superbikes or honking horns from cars, queuing up at the gate, blocking traffic.
But for the handful of women, the crowd was predominantly men, most of them over 55 years. They were attired differently in dhoti, lungi, pants, khaki uniforms and jeans. There were men who looked like temple priests with their smear of sacred ash on the forehead and tufts and there were men in colourful kurtas and cooling glasses. But everyone waited patiently for the gates.
Inside the hall, the seats started filling up from the back and the front rows, from where the confetti normally comes, did not fill up at all. And the confetti came from the back rows and it was not the usual bits of paper but marigolds.
As one walked out through the aisle after the show, the entire floor was littered with marigold, thrown in bunches at various points of time during the nearly three hour screening.
It started during the title scene and then went on during the mellifluous song sequences and some moments of ‘meaningful’ dialogue delivery.
As a film that should have been ahead of its time in terms of technical excellence and also in creating a do-gooder image for MGR, Aayirathil Oruvan portrays its swashbuckling hero as a committed leader of the people, reading to make any sacrifice for his followers.
The movie also saw its leading lady, J Jayalalithaa, giving a sterling performance with impeccable dialogue delivery.
The crowd savoured every moment, fully engrossed in the action and drama and enjoying the melodious music, tapping foot and swaying their heads. No catcalls, no hootings, no loud comments and no jokes. The crowd was there to watch the movie.