Miss watching movies on the big screen? This drive-in theatre might just be what you're looking for
The launch of a new drive-in theatre at Marathahalli, Bengaluru, gives cine buffs a breather from the lockdown, especially since “gap-year Covid 2020” is not showing any signs of abating. With multiplexes shut, Under the Stars by Lonely Cow Entertainment is set to open a drive-in theatre soon. Exploring the nostalgia of drive-ins, this startup has curated 52 shows since 2017, with a rent-a-space-show-a-film model where the organisers rent a space and project a film along with different elements and present it as an event. But now, they have a permanent address which is a four-acre plot that can accommodates 200 cars!
For IT professionals and childhood buddies Abhijit Shah and Sushanta Patgiri, along with lawyer Vivek Manchanda, it began as an eclectic idea that people warmed up to. Millennials thought the idea was too other wordly, never having even seen one, but then once they experienced it, they loved the idea.
The 80s and 90s kids too are excited. Bengalurean actor and model Sameer Malhotra, who starred in Bharat with actress Tabu and is currently shooting for Ekta Kapoor's magnum opus Bebaakee for Alt Balaji recalls his experience visiting one of the city's old drive-in theatres on Bannerghatta Road, “As kids, it was the coolest way to watch a movie. It was a special Sunday family picnic. Watching the movie was an afterthought. We would hang out with friends and sneak up on lovers getting a little too comfortable! The tilted cars, signaling headlights, speakers attached to the car window, with adjustable volume - that was Bangalore streaming into the 21st century! It’s a great revival and countries like Dubai, the US and UK have already seen the revival of drive-cinema. While it becomes more relevant now in the current crisis, I feel it should never have gone bust in the first place. We deserve drive-ins!”
Everyone is aching to get out, without being unduly stressed. Actor and Miss Earth 2010 Nicole Faria feels, “It offers an intriguing old-world solution to a modern problem. With the urgent need for re-engineering social activities at a distance, traditional concepts of enclosed populated gatherings are a thing of the past. It makes sense that old-school drive-in theatres are witnessing a resurrection across the world.”
What was once a portable set up with a 35 ft by 25 ft screen will now be permanent with individual headsets for a movie watcher. Co-founder Shushanta Patgiri recalls the happy faces of their previous customers, “It gives our team immense satisfaction to be able to curate an experience loved by all ages. Our vast movie library ranges from classics like Godfather to Avengers Endgame.” The team has had enquiries from Hyderabad and Pune too.
Be that as it may, there are drawbacks. They will not be able to screen new movies as the set-up is not equipped. With an investor onboard, they are getting set to roll out the red carpet for physically distant movie watching, and working on getting NOCs and the relevant permissions from the BBMP. “It’s open air and breezy. Our earlier curations had bean bags, bonfires and food trucks, and we charged Rs.300 - Rs.350 for a ticket with popcorn. Now, we will offer only a drive-in concept till it is safer. There will be temperature checks and sanitisation of touch points. The end game is not to allow people to mingle. Pets are also welcome,” says Shah .
Watching a film in your car seems tailormade for the Covid era. Kamal Kapur, MD Rex Cinema (among the oldest cinema halls now to be turned into a multiplex and mall) in Bengaluru recalls a similar drive-in theatre at Dubai’s Mall of Emirates. He says, “It’s a good idea. People are dying to get out. An open space, sitting in a car, maintaining distance and watching a film is welcome. I hope they succeed. The only drawback is that they won’t get new movies. Whether it is sustainable depends on revenue, equipment, royalty etc.”