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Experience: Going to the movies, staying in the car

At a time when we are concerned about our health in public places, a new drive-in theatre offers another way to watch movies on the big screen in Mumbai. Park the car, don't get out.

December 28, 2021 / 10:24 AM IST
When was the last time you watched a movie under the stars? Well, if you haven’t already, and you are in Mumbai, that is one thing you can check off your list. Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) now has what is being touted as India’s first permanent rooftop drive-in-theatre: Jio Drive-in-Theatre. And if you are a fan of the big screen, we suggest you get your friends and family together for what can only be called a ‘movie picnic’.

When was the last time you watched a movie under the stars? Well, if you haven’t already, and you are in Mumbai, that is one thing you can check off your list. Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) now has what is being touted as India’s first permanent rooftop drive-in-theatre: Jio Drive-in-Theatre. And if you are a fan of the big screen, we suggest you get your friends and family together for what can only be called a ‘movie picnic’.

The drive-in-theatre could not have opened at a better time. The nip in the air teamed with people’s apprehensions about being inside closed cinema halls makes this a perfect excuse for when you want to be out and about. At Rs 1500 per car, it is a pretty good deal especially if every seat in your vehicle is occupied. The downside: if you don’t have a car, you have to pester your bestie to drive you there. The drive-in theatre could not have opened at a better time. The nip in the air teamed with people’s apprehensions about being inside closed cinema halls makes this a perfect excuse for when you want to be out and about. At Rs 1500 per car, it is a pretty good deal especially if every seat in your vehicle is occupied. The downside: if you don’t have a car, you have to pester your bestie to drive you there.

It was a relatively quiet weekday night when I got inside my friend’s car and four of us headed to the theatre. The slow drive up the rampway till the rooftop on the sixth floor was accompanied by bright bulbs, prepping us for the big screen experience ahead. At first glance, the drive-in-theatre resembled a giant playground with fake grass and a big screen on one end. With a rooftop big enough to accommodate 290 cars, there was ample space to park our car in our allotted row. We were there to watch the latest Spiderman movie in town, and as expected, there were families with kids in tow. Some brought out foldable chairs while a few settled on the roofs of their cars. No snogging couples around; which may or may not be a bad thing. My group preferred to sit out on one of the comfortable cushion-covered benches that were spread out between the rows of cars. Spidey got into his act on screen and we settled down for the big screen experience. However, we soon realized that while being in the middle of the row was good visually, the audio experience wasn’t exactly great as the speakers were on the sides. Back in our cars, we tuned into the radio frequency provided by them earlier and just like that, we got the sound we were looking for! It was a relatively quiet weekday night when I got inside my friend’s car and four of us headed to the theatre. The slow drive up the rampway till the rooftop on the sixth floor was accompanied by bright bulbs, prepping us for the big screen experience ahead.

At first glance, the drive-in-theatre resembled a giant playground with fake grass and a big screen on one end. With a rooftop big enough to accommodate 290 cars, there was ample space to park our car in our allotted row. We were there to watch the latest Spiderman movie in town, and as expected, there were families with kids in tow. Some brought out foldable chairs while a few settled on the roofs of their cars. No snogging couples around; which may or may not be a bad thing. My group preferred to sit out on one of the comfortable cushion-covered benches that were spread out between the rows of cars. Spidey got into his act on screen and we settled down for the big screen experience. However, we soon realized that while being in the middle of the row was good visually, the audio experience wasn’t exactly great as the speakers were on the sides. Back in our cars, we tuned into the radio frequency provided by them earlier and just like that, we got the sound we were looking for! At first glance, the drive-in-theatre resembled a giant playground with fake grass and a big screen on one end. With a rooftop big enough to accommodate 290 cars, there was ample space to park our car in our allotted row.
We were there to watch the latest Spiderman movie in town, and as expected, there were families with kids in tow. Some brought out foldable chairs while a few settled on the roofs of their cars. No snogging couples around; which may or may not be a bad thing.
My group preferred to sit out on one of the comfortable cushion-covered benches that were spread out between the rows of cars. Spidey got into his act on screen and we settled down for the big screen experience. However, we soon realized that while being in the middle of the row was good visually, the audio experience wasn’t exactly great as the speakers were on the sides. Back in our cars, we tuned into the radio frequency provided by them earlier and just like that, we got the sound we were looking for!

(Representational image) A big screen movie-watching experience isn’t complete without popcorn. The drive-in has all the options you'd expect in a movie theatre when it comes to food: pastas, pizzas, momos, frankies, rolls, popcorn, steamed corn, pastries and ice cream on offer. (Representational image) A big screen movie-watching experience isn’t complete without popcorn. The drive-in has all the options you'd expect in a movie theatre when it comes to food: pastas, pizzas, momos, frankies, rolls, popcorn, steamed corn, pastries and ice cream on offer.

(Representational image) Once the movie was over, I wondered if sitting in the car, I missed the community-watching experience that a regular cinema hall provides - the shared camaraderie of collectively breaking out into cheers when the hero makes a grand entry or laugh out loud with strangers at a funny dialogue delivery or shed copious tears when your favourite character gets killed? To be honest, I did. But as a ‘movie picnic’ experience, it got my stamp of approval. (Representational image) Once the movie was over, I wondered if sitting in the car, I missed the community-watching experience that a regular cinema hall provides - the shared camaraderie of collectively breaking out into cheers when the hero makes a grand entry or laugh out loud with strangers at a funny dialogue delivery or shed copious tears when your favourite character gets killed? To be honest, I did. But as a ‘movie picnic’ experience, it got my stamp of approval.

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Also see: In pictures | India's first rooftop drive-in theatre opens in Mumbai
Deepali Singh is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist who writes on movies, shows, music, art, and food. Twitter: @DeepaliSingh05
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