BENGALURU: A large-screen playing your favourite movie, complete with surround sound, popcorn and other snacks... Watching a movie in a mall may be the things that dreams are made of right now, but Bengalureans are finding new ways to recreate the cinematic experience for themselves. Take, for instance, SteppinOut, which was famous for its ‘movie under the stars’ experiences, which came to a halt due to the pandemic.
But in true show-must-go-on spirit, they have adapted the experience to introduce a ‘drive-in’ theatre concept, or as brand head Kritika Tater explains, “Customers drive to the venue in their own vehicles, watch the movie from their cars with audio playing through their car music system via bluetooth, order food online with a completely contactless system, and have a fun cinematic experience while maintaining social distancing.” A popular concept around the world, drive-in theatres are a safe way to enjoy an outdoor experience, while still complying with Covid safety norms.
SteppinOut’s first show was held earlier this month, and they have screened movies like Grease, The Conjuring 2, Shrek and English Vinglish. “We allow four people in each car, and only allow 17 vehicles per event,” says Tater, adding that due to the spike in the number of cases in the city, the brand is hoping to resume the event by the first weekend of August. Besides safety, the idea also creates a huge nostalgia factor as drive-ins were the rage in the late ‘70s. “And it’s great for customers who have not got a chance to enjoy a large-screen movie experience in five months,” she says.
The same reason drove Mourya Pantham to rent out Binge Club, a private mini theatre in the city. On July 1, the Whitefield-based techie took his wife to the mini theatre in HSR Layout in order to celebrate her birthday. The two movie buffs used to watch at least one movie a week in theatres before and found this to be the closest they could get to the experience. “Our last movie outing was in February. And even though we can watch films at home, the experience is not the same because we don’t have a surround sound system. And the screen’s resolution and size really matters too,” says Pantham, who watched the film Roja with his wife.
Like Pantham, other film lovers too seem to be coming from distances far from HSR Layout for this experience. Sahithya, co-founder of Binge Club, has seen them come from Vijaynagar and Hebbal for the experience, and some return for seconds as well. “From June 8 to July 14, we saw Friday evenings and Saturdays packed with 6-10 bookings,” she says. Upon making a booking, customers can choose to stream content from any OTT platform they have an account with. “We also noticed a surge in enquiries because now, movies like Dil Bechara and Shakuntala Devi are releasing directly on OTT platforms. Now that people have consumed most of what the sites already had, they want to enjoy these new offerings in the same theatre like ambience,” says Sahithya.