Avinash Pandian


First it was Pokkiri and now it is Vedalam, Vijay, Ajith


The concept of interval breaks in films was mainly brought into practice to facilitate technical difficulties like changing of reels. But with all the technological advancements, the practice of such recess breaks is a long gone practice in the Western countries. However, as an exception, Quentin Tarantino’s latest Western mystery thriller The Hateful Eight, was released with two versions, one with the conventional interval free edition and the 70mm limited version with midpoint stop breaks (The 70mm version gives you an impeccable visual output with crystal clear images that are twice the size of the standard 35mm film that you find in digital).

Unlike the West, in India we hardly see a film without stoppage breaks. If a director is so rigid to make an interval free film, he has to make two versions, one the uncut festival version and the normal theatrical release with break. In fact, all intermission free Hollywood films have a manually cut halfway breaks in India.

Nonetheless, you could occasionally find interval free films when you watch the opening shows of Rajinikanth or Vijay or Ajith starrer, especially when you watch it down south of the state, say like Madurai. I myself have watched some opening shows without intermissions, three instances to be precise and all three were in Madurai. First time was during the opening show of Vijay’s Pokkiri, when the theatre decided to chop of a 2 hour 50 minute movie to a 2 hours and also made it interval free, all to control a huge unruly crowd in one of the biggest screens in Madurai. Last up I watched Ajith’s Vedalam without interval, thanks to the delay in start and the screen was on a 6 show schedule that day. So that is how things work in India.

The Indian film industry has adapted itself to this two part movie experience (pre and post interval). Most films follow a standard pattern; to start off high, slow it down in the middle (which however is unintentional, to establish the characters and to form the crux of the story), then comes the interval with a bang. Immediately post intermission you will find the slowest melancholic song of the album being played, and then the maker tries to unveil the knots in the script one after one and finally the big finish. Though by all means you will find a lot of directors in Kollywood who don’t go by this stereotypical format.

We as an audience too have acclimated to such type of narration. Even a commoner today, expects the interval block to be suspenseful and smacky. The audience has started to dismantle a film into halves and not look at it as a single piece of wood and that is where I feel the problem is. Intermissions can be good, it gives a breather time for the audience to recoup when there is too much to take, but on the flipside it may distract the whole movie watching experience at times, especially when you’re so attached to a movie and to detach with it for 15 minutes and try to adhere with it after the break, spoils the fun.

Today intervals are a part of the business in India; people spend twice the amount of film’s ticket costs on the snack counter. A popcorn packet, I once used to eat for 5 bucks is now sold at 120, the cost that I pay for my film ticket. There is a cap on the price of a movie ticket in Tamil Nadu, but do we have a slab for eateries in the cinema hall? You’re eventually locked up in the theatre hall for 3 hours and with no outside food allowed, you’re forced to buy a product that is charged more than what it is worth for.

So commercially speaking, you cannot release a film without intermission but people like me wants to watch a film without a break. I literally hate intervals specially when I am inundated with a film and the 15 minute break diverts me towards my phone which eventually averts my attention to various other stuffs.

Even some directors might want to tell a story in a single stretch and not plan on for an intermission suspense block. For instance, I had watched Vetri Maaran’s Visaaranai at a film festival recently. It was so real and intense and with just 5 minutes into the film, I was so engrossed in it and got hooked up to the screen without flapping my eyelids. So I was able to travel with the film in the absence of any annoying disruptions and dilution of my interest.

Some may not be in agreement with my thoughts while a few may agree, but I honestly feel that a change is required and it will be a progressive step to the future. Even if there are stoppage free movies, the audience will still have an option to stack up snacks before the start of the movie and in that way the commercial interests in intervals could also be addressed.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me, with regard to this article to below mentioned email id. Thanks for reading!

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