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The Raj Mandir & Movie Etiquette in India
By Bianca Lucas
18 December 2011


In the pink city of Jaipur (all the buildings are pink coloured) lies a creamy white building with coloured stars on the outside and ornate pink, green and gold on the inside.

Opened in 1976, The Raj Mandir is touted as being one of the most popular cinemas in India and the minute you walk through its crowded doors, one is instantly taken back to the Raj era of opulence and ornateness. 

The crowd had gathered in their best sari dressed droves to watch the latest Indian blockbuster ‘Ra-One’. Part action movie, part sci-fi, part love story with a good dose of Bollywood singing and dancing thrown in for good measure, and the only thing more beautiful than the leading couple (Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor) was the cinema it was being shown in.

Not merely a form of escapism, going to the movies in India is a way of life.

Couples, families, teenagers all gathered to enjoy the spectacle and verve of the cinematic experience.

And it is an experience. Roars of the crowd erupt as the suave leading man comes on screen. Clapping, whistling (mostly for the beautiful leading ladies) and more cheering ensued throughout the movie.

You quickly learn the movie itself is only one part of the event.

One becomes so captivated and enthralled by the atmosphere and vivacity of the crowd, you don’t even mind mobile phones ringing and people talking on them. It just adds to the spectacle of it all.

Participating in dancing, whether in the aisles or in just in your seat (turning the light bulb and high prayer easily accomplished in this position) is optional, though highly recommended by this wanna-be ballerina. 

And even though there are no subtitles and one can barely understand a Hindi word being said, it’s not difficult to follow the plot.

Laughing and crying (at the movie not the crowd) and even a little sing-along to familiar songs repackaged in Hinglish (mixture of Hindi and English) took place. Who knew the sentimental ‘Stand By Me’ could be remastered into such a mix and sound so good?

That’s the point though isn’t it? Of travelling I mean. You are transported to something new and exciting. The old and familiar suddenly seems a little boring, and one knows that ‘Cheap a*se Tuesdays’ back home will never be quite the same again.

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