Looking back at five years in Ahmedabad, if at all there is one thing which has really set this place apart from any other city in India, it is the drive in cinema here. Its a bit of a archaic wonder actually. A huge space, set right in the middle of one of the hotly growing commercial areas in the city, every time I visit there, I feel a pang. I just want to keep coming often to make the best use of this place for as long as it remains because I am sure sometime in the not too distant future, the land is going to be far too valuable to remain as just a drive in theatre. I have seen too many old cinema halls in Bangalore torn down and converted to malls and multiplexes.
Drive in cinema is unique because it pretty much gurantees that you can hardly understand the movie. Specially in this era when normal theatres provide an amazing viewing and sound experience, drive in provides ordinary viewing and sometimes downright bad audio. There are entire movies I have watched, without following most of the dialogues. Bill Bryson writes an eloquent essay in one of his books (I think it is Notes from a Big Country) about taking his family to the drive in and let me tell you it is in no way exaggerated.
But what it does give you, nay return to you, is the fun of watching a movie. In an era when multiplexes are increasingly restrictive of what you may carry into a movie hall, drive in allows you to carry an entire picnic basket, matress, pillows, charis and anything else you can fit into you car.
It has a great food court with all kinds of affordable food, not just overpriced pop corn (In fact, from what I remember, it has no pop corn). And since it is in Gujarat, it affords any non-gujarati another opportunity to marvel at the sheer variety of gujarati snacks and their abillity to pack so much food for an outing. (I have blogged earlier about this here). In fact there are times when I feel I go to drive in not so much to watch a movie, but to hog and also gaze (or maybe ogle) at all the families around me and their huge, and I mean really huge tiffin dabbas. And it is also the only cinema hall where I can take my little one, because it gives me the option of watching the movie even as I am playing bat and ball with her in the little park.