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Till cinema do us part


Mihir and Neha Joshi have even designed their living room in a way that feeds their appetite for cinema

Films are a great binding factor, or so the late film critic Roger Ebert would have us believe. Marry someone who does not share your taste in cinema, and your relationship is doomed, he warns. TOI-Crest explores

Not many women can laugh when their husbands threaten to abandon them in social settings. Film critic Anupama Chopra, however, could not help breaking into her trademark chuckle when her spouse, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, did so in the middle of a movie. 

She had forced him to watch the film Jism as it was a hit. The year was 2003 and underworld mergers were resurfacing then, so the couple had gone to the theatre with an armed bodyguard. Halfway into the movie though, the producer, who could not bear the film, got up. "Watch the rest of the movie with the bodyguard, " he told his wife and left. Chopra loves dark, violent films while Anupama is the kind that weeps after watching Kal Ho Naa Ho. "If we ever split, it will be because of your love for all things Yashraj, " he often warns her.

Of course, it is a joke, but the late film critic Roger Ebert would not have laughed. "Never marry someone who does not love the same movies that you do. Sooner or later, that person will not love you, " Ebert had famously said. While the giggle-prone Anupama Chopra does not buy into the theory (" We are a living exception, " she points out), many movie-crazy married couples can be divided into those that nod vigorously in agreement and those that would have, had the veteran not insisted on the words 'same movies'.

Either way, though, what this means is that celluloid can be a powerful glue. Watching movies as a ritual does not merely offer these couples a chance to hold hands or enjoy each other's silence but also leads to meaningful urban conversation that stretches beyond mundane pleasantries. While bashing the silliness of chick flicks together or even arguing over a character's moral choices, they rediscover each other.

For instance, Gangs of Wasseypur 2 had a lingering effect on 25-year-old Aakriti Bhatia and her boyfriend Atul Patwari. They were so overwhelmed by the rawness of this Kashyap film set in the interiors of Jharkhand, that "when we stepped out into the mall, it felt surreal. The luxury of city life hit us, " she says. This even led to many deep conversations of the kind that Patwari, who works with an IT company, relishes.

Patwari, who has a low threshold for movies that do not satiate his brain, is often up at odd hours to watch science documentaries on how the earth was formed. "Once, we even spoke about the types of cameras used in sub-zero temperatures. They cost crores and we were contemplating other uses, " she recalls. Since the duo is getting married in October, it is more important for Bhatia that their tastes intersect as "he is very opinionated". So, Bhatia now makes up her for her love for "mindless" movies by discussing superhero films.
Coinciding tastes leads to a mine of in-jokes for couples. Mihir Joshi, a singer and a die-hard comicbook fan, feels lucky as just like the characters in his favourite American sitcom Suits - who are given to frequently bringing up movie references - he too is able share references of his favourite movies with his wife. For instance, the fact that a mutual acquaintance reminds them of Star Wars' bumbling character Jar Jar Binks, cracks the duo up.

"I am very passionate about movies, music and television so it is important for me to be able to invest two hours in them with my wife, " says Joshi, who watches close to four movies a week at home and one at the theatre. They have even set up their new home in a way that feeds their appetite for cinema. Besides a 46-inch-TV, there is a rack in the living room that stores at least 500 to 1000 Hollywood classics of Gary Cooper and Clark Gable, many Blu-rays including that of their favourite film Avatar and over 50 box sets of various superhero and sci-fi series.

Even subliminal marital messages can be sent in the guise of such post-movie discussions. After watching Saathiya, for instance, which is about a misunderstanding between a newly-married couple, 35-year-old Parinda Singh, assistant vice president of an entertainment channel, made sure she rattled on about the importance of communication long enough for her husband to get the hint.

"You can learn a lot from arguments, " says Singh, whose husband is a sound consultant and has a home theatre in his showroom. The couple remembers being polarised over the film Rockstar. Singh passionately loved the way the Ranbir Kapoor-starrer was made but the fact that "the lead character didn't use his suffering to shape his musical career", didn't bode well with her husband, a sound consultant.

Other personality hints could be sought in the form of moral choices. "Depending on which side they take, you realise what kind of people they are, " says Misha Kamath, a school teacher from Mumbai, who watches at least three movies a month with her husband. Kamath remembers feeling strongly against Farhan Akhtar's character in a movie that showed him having an extra marital affair. She felt validated when her husband endorsed the argument.

"Movies also make you introspect, " says Snehsha Tank, who found herself and her boyfriend Adarsh Manjal questioning themselves during the movie Life in a. . . Metro. In the film, an old couple meets after a long break and decide to rekindle their relationship. Tank, who too had been through a break, found this cathartic. "If there is true love, it doesn't matter if you are away, " she says. Tank can identify with the lead couple in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na who were best friends and didn't realise they were in love. "I was seeing someone else then, and when things fizzled out with him, Adarsh was there for me, " she says.

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