So I came back an hour ago after watching 5 minutes of the second Pirates of Caribbean, whatever it is called – Dead Man’s Chest? Yeah, whatever. I had been wanting to see it for a long time and considering that tomorrow will most likely be the last day it’s going to be in theatres here, I finally decided to go and watch it at this theatre near my hotel. So I quickly finished dinner – which wasn’t too bad btw, which is a rarity these days – and reached the theatre. Only the second time in my life was I planning to watch a movie “alone” – what’s the big deal with doing that anyways? I mean if you really want to watch the movie you shouldn’t really care who you’re with, right? I’m in for watching movies alone after being sceptical for the best part of my life. Anyways, I digress.
I reached the theatre, bought the ticket and entered the hall, you know the usual drill. At this point I would like to state for the record, my complete distaste for multiplexes with halls that are only slightly bigger than your living room (unless you live in Mumbai or New York of course, in which case any place is bigger than your living room). I mean this hall had only 52 seats (yes, I had time to count as I was waiting for the movie to begin) – 52 seats? Give me the single screen theatres over multiplexes any day. Call me old fashioned, but I like my movie screens big and the halls bigger. Call me old fashioned, but I’m not sure what I’m gaining with multiplexes – I pay more to watch the movie on a smaller screen with worse audio. And yes, being close to the screen is suddenly a good thing?!! WTF!
Talking about crappy audio brings us back to today’s movie. The previews start and there’s this constant hiss in the audio – never mind, I thought, it must be just the previews. Not the first time the stuff leading up to the movie is in stereo and the movie that follows is in Dolby or DSS or whatever the latest buzzword is. But of course this audio wasn’t even in stereo because the sound was coming from only one direction – right in front of me (where the screen is) – and I could just about make out what they were saying. Wait a minute, is this MONO? No way, I thought to myself. That’s not possible. Ah, the previews are over, the movie begins, surely everything will be fine now. There’s the production house banner – OMG the hiss is still there! The movie starts and yes, it’s still there. I can just about make out what the actors are saying over that annoying hiss and I start to realize that the four speakers on the left and right walls are just for show – I wonder if they are just empty enclosures – not the best publicity for Bose I tell you.
I somehow sit through the first scene and just as Jack Sparrow, correction “Captain” Jack Sparrow, is about to make his first appearance on screen (or so I think, because I never made it that far) I decide enough is enough, I don’t need to put up with this. By the way talking about sadda Johnny Deep Singh an Edward “Scissorpaws” reference on Frasier as I type this – some coincidence, eh? I walk out of the hall and happen to catch the “projectionist” just as I am moving out. What the hell is the matter with the audio I ask him, what’s with that noise? He replies with the M word. “No problem, the audio is mono”. AARGH!!! How can you even utter those words with a straight face?!!!! He added we have a digital print (with great audio I presume) but this screen has only mono audio. That would explain all the noise because to make an audio signal distributed over 5 channels audible with only one, you would have to make it exceptionally loud, bringing in all the noise. Well, that is putting it in simple terms – which is the best I can do.
Anyways, atleast the guy was understanding when I said mono sound is unacceptable to me and he took me straight to the manager/ owner who gave me a refund, no further questions asked. I didn’t expect them to be this “co-operative” to be honest, which is why I even considered sitting through the movie – but 23 seconds after the thought entered my head, I realized I just couldn’t do it – refund or no refund. I don’t know how the other half-a-dozen people watching the movie could put up with that crap! This multiplex has 3 screens, so I naturally asked if the other two had mono sound as well. Thankfully, the answer was no. Ah, great. So I pay 25% more than the guys in the other theaters (because English movie tickets are more expensive than Hindi movies which were playing on the other two screens – go figure) and I’m the one who gets mono audio! Ain’t life grand?
Take my advice, if you are in Muscat and you see a movie playing at Al Nasr screen number 3, don’t bother.