Hall of fame
It’s three in the afternoon and I’m waiting at one of the busiest areas of Kathmandu, for a friend. You alight at Jamal and you’re greeted with a cacophony of traffic sounds and street vendors. Microbuses, cars, motorbikes, tempos you name it and they’re all there. “Peanuts?” “Popcorn?” “Strawberries?” I’ve always wondered, does the loudest vendor make the biggest sales? I’m still wondering when I spot my friend waving out to me.
Together, we walk into Vishwajyoti Hall — one of Nepal’s oldest halls for a little treat. One of 2004’s biggest blockbusters — ‘Alien Vs Predator’ has been playing there since January 21 and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited but a little apprehensive. After all, the hall has been around for an approximate of 30 years and old doesn’t necessarily translate to gold. Especially at this time and age where old seems to have no hold over anything at all.
The hall which is run by Rohan Singh and his father, was bought by them in an auction about 17 years ago. They’ve been the sole proprietors since. “We’re not running on a lease,” emphasises the junior Singh when I have a little chat with him later. As I walk into the hall premises I’m surprised with the size of their parking lot. One wouldn’t have expected a space quite this big considering the location. This is not the only surprise that’s in store for me.
My friend and I are guided into the theatre (that has a seating capacity of 1111) by the most helpful of ushers. In gratitude, I flash him a smile. “Bright enough to illuminate the hall,” my friend observes. I’m not listening to her; I’m more bothered about the comfort of the seats. “Oh my God! They slide,” I almost squeal in delight. Before I can say anymore about how comfortable the seats are the movie begins and the sound that only a Dolby system could produce hits my ears. I’m silenced, effectively! For the next 90 minutes. The story is pretty simple — Structures, which predate the pyramid civilisations of Egypt and the Americas have been discovered far beneath the Antartic icecap by satellites. To explore the findings billionaire Weyland assembles a drill team, specialists in Aztec and Egyptian archaeology and an environment scientist. But, this is all just a ruse by the Predators to lure the humans there who are needed as sacrifice or rather to be “impregnated” by a captured Queen Alien. Three Predators then arrive to hunt the Queen Alien and her offspring’s down as rites of passage of sorts. Weyland’s team of 15 plus and more, save one, are killed off in less than 30 minutes. The sole survivor is left with no choice but to team up with the Predator to fight off the fast multiplying aliens. What happens next? I say, find out at Vishwajyoti. One thing I can assure you though is that there will be a sequel. After all, the movie is entertaining and it does deliver what it promises — a battle.
I’m hoping I can watch it in the new 500-seater multiplex that Singh is going in for around the end of this year. “We’re getting professionals for the job,” says he. And, with the multiplex screening Hindi and English movies and Vishwajyoti doing justice to the Nepali film industry they’ll be gathering as Singh puts it, “the masses and the classes.” When I shoot the last and most expected question, he laughs, “We’re not competing with Jai Nepal and Kumari, they are like brothers.” Great! That’s one warring party less.