La La Land: treating yourself to a solo cinema experience

Updated: Mar 14, 2020

A fever has struck our modern lives: the fever of being social. My first piece in February highlights why one doesn’t have to carry the burden of being a social butterfly all the time. 

I was once a typical Mumbai girl working for a creative industry, handling crazy deadlines, long hours, and an absolutely non-existing social life. To top it all I was in a long-distance relationship with my long time boyfriend (now my husband). Whenever my friends made weekend plans my answer would always be, “I am sorry ya, I have to stay back at work” or travelling or sometimes exhausted AF.  And times, when I would hang out, was mostly with my colleagues discussing work or office politics over drinks. I only went home to get some sleep and to get ready for work the next day. This entire cycle caused me to forget what it is to enjoy, or — as I have mentioned in previous articles — ‘the art of chilling.’  

I was becoming antisocial without even realising it myself. This is odd because I’m what you’d call outgoing and an extrovert for the most part. It started affecting my regular hobbies such as reading turned into skimming pile of marketing reports, my favourite pass time was doing competitor’s analysis. One day after missing a couple of close family weddings and get-togethers with my mom (btw I have the coolest mom on this planet), I decided to take her out one Sunday to her usual market place just doing random things. We ate PaniPuri (do we even need to describe how awesome this chat is?), and caught up on her social service activities.  It was just a simple conversation, a walk to freshen up and it felt so good. I was finding it so strange how can something so normal and mundane make me feel good about my weekend. 

Weekdays followed and I went back to my routine again, but somehow this time I asked my mom to keep herself free on Sunday for “our day.” I used to look forward to it by the time Friday came. I felt that with such a demanding job I can at least stick to a few of my all-time favourite small things to do such as reading and catching up with family. I started reading 5 pages a day and it felt good since it was my long lost hobby it just took a few days for me to come back to the speed of finishing the book in a week. I felt so good and fresh after every reading session. Somehow, I felt I’d achieved more than the time’s worth.  

But then routine follows too, with work, deadlines, meals on-the-go and coming home late. I remember one such gruelling week at work, which was mentally exhausting. I was out on a Saturday morning — yes, I used to work Saturdays too — for a long meeting, but in my mind, I was desperately waiting for Sunday to come soon. This long meeting ended before I expected and I thought I would reach home not just on time but early today. I quickly left for home and then called mom on my way thinking I could surprise her and take her out for a movie and dinner. But my mom said she was out with my aunt and didn’t expect to get free so soon. They were at the other end of Bombay so obviously there was no point in waiting. I don’t know what happened to me, or what I thought at the point in time, but I wanted to watch a movie very badly. There was one running at the theatres at that time which had all my favourite actors. And, the reviews were quite favourable too. I reached a mall close to my house and decided to book tickets for the next day, which was Sunday. I reached the ticket counter to realise tickets are not available for tomorrow. The guy at the ticket counter said only 3 tickets are available for today and that show starts in 10 minutes. I don’t know what came in my mind but I was like, “OK, let’s go.” 

So, with the ticket in my hand, I got myself a tub of popcorn and went into the experience a movie all alone for the very first time in my life. P.S. no movie experience is complete without popcorn. I reached my seat and luckily there was a gap of a seat between me and another couple. I was only the lone warrior back then wanting to watch the movie alone. I did get some freak stares from the couple in between but I didn’t care then because they had no clue that I made this choice voluntarily.  I was excited about the movie, wrapped myself in a stole. By the way, the first movie that I watched alone continues to be my most favourite movie even today - La La Land. I love Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, my favourite actors, and I love their chemistry. This movie was dreamy, positive and so charismatic. In fact, it was a neat coincidence that the movie itself was about two different people drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. Since my first ‘Cinema Alone’ experience, I have watched this movie multiple times — once with my husband too — and every single time I have enjoyed it the same way. I think everything is magical about this movie and the music is just soaring and gorgeous, a complete masterpiece.

My experience was so incredible that I’ve decided that in future I shall share this story with my niece and other young kids in the family. I feel that the next generation should definitely be more emotionally independent. I felt so good about having a good time on my own. Doing things I loved without any distraction. I didn’t care about the stares and decided to focus solely on the movie. This is exactly how I feel when I am reading. It just made it easier for me to decide that I am going to indulge in things that make me feel happy; it could be with friends and sometimes alone, and that is absolutely ok. You’re not the only one doing things alone so there is nothing weird about this, after all, we are in 2020.  I did go for a lot of movies with friends and family after the first experience but I also went for movies alone from time to time and trust me every experience was better than the previous one. And that’s only because I got more comfortable with the idea of being on my own. Although, somehow I can’t enjoy nonsensical comedy and jingoistic movies apart from these I can experiment with any genre. And yes, some of the best movies I have watched are when I went alone.

Here are my takeaways from this experience

- Love your own company too

- No stress of dressing up for a date, sometimes I have worn a simple T-shirt paired with comfortable pants/pyjamas and always carried a stole or a jacket with me

- Only you can make yourself feel comfortable 

- No disturbance or the need to discuss each scene with a movie partner

- You don’t have to share the popcorn 

- No need to be the social butterfly all the time

 - When you do hang out with your friends, partner, or family you can do other fun things instead of watching a movie

- And when you want to relax or have alone time you know what you can do - solo trips to your nearest cinema theatre

Antisocial as it sounds, sometimes the best moviegoing experiences are the ones you undertake by yourself. So the next time a movie catches your attention and you can’t find anyone to go see it with you, try watching it alone. You could find a little uncomfortable at first but it gets better and more comfortable with every experience. 

After I got married, I moved cities and didn’t go for movie alone but I have replaced this with some other self-love ritual, which I shall discuss in my next story. Also, if you watch movies alone, do share your experience in the comments section below. 

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