Friday, August 29, 2008

Money Back Movies

Do you remember the last time you went to a movie and felt thoroughly disgruntled within no time, but somehow grit your teeth and took it quietly? Seriously, does it have to be like this?

So, what is it with movies, that you lose money by taking a risk, while you have no minimum guarantee of satisfaction with what you paid for? After all you're the paying customer and the movie is the product you are buying, so if you are not satisfied with the value you are getting for your money, you should be entitled to a refund, right?

There is only one stupid impediment to this simple logic being carried to the just and fair next step of implementation. You can REturn a coconut that was rotten on the inside. You can REturn a stereo that doesn't work, but you cannot UNexperience a movie, and more often than not, you cannot prove in measurable ways, beyond doubt, that you didn't quite get what you were promised. So, "no contract"! It is the "nature of the business" gleeful producers will tell you.

However, if you didn't already know about this, you can actually walk out of a movie theatre before the intermission and get a full refund of the ticket. This is a right that not many people obviously exercise. It is a simple procedure that should be encouraged to the maximum.

When the moneybags hurt is when we will get better cinema. Up until now, the first week's movie goers are the ones taking the hit, taking the risk of being subjected to the damage our films can inflict upon our senses, our sensibilities, and upon our minds. The insult of watching a "typical" Mumbai movie is far too intense to be ignored. And yet, a lot of people are brave enough, and compassionate enough to our film producers and film makers to make a beeline to the box office.

Is there a single producer out there who can put a simple "Money Back Guarantee" on his product? I bet you not. But just because it is not the norm doesn't mean this nonsense has to continue, where the paying public pays in full before they know what they are getting into.

If you are at an art exhibition, you can definitely experience the beauty or the ugliness of every piece of painting or sculpture before you want to cough up the money to own it. Now, cinema cannot be exclusively owned like other pieces of art, but then moviegoers are not interested in exclusive torture either!

If you bought a medicine for headache and it gave you a bad stomach as a side effect, you can sue the pharmaceutical company for not warning you. And the warning better be on the product wrapper, right where the consumer can see it. How often have you and I been to a movie hall, where a Statutory Warning greeted us with - "This movie makes no claim of great entertainment value. Audiences are warned that boredom, disappointment, and in some cases, watching this movie may result in undesirable physical consequences like nausea and headache" or atleast a really humble, "Amateur cinema. Patrons are warned not to expect cinematic greatness"?

In some cases, especially in movies with big stars involved, the promos are abject LIES, and there is absolutely nobody to question the validity of some of those outrageous claims of good art. Ah, art! Now that is a big illusion to hide behind, isn't it? Yes, as long as your art doesn't need my money for its survival.

All it takes is a few hundred people demanding their money back from movie halls, and the ripple effect will hit where it matters - at the pockets of producers who don't know a rat's arse about cinema, and at the careers of pretenders who call themselves film makers! After all, it isn't as if an enormously successful movie and huge profits encourage producers to give discounts to audiences that come in for second viewings. So, let us as consumers punish a lousy product no matter what industry it comes from.

We would create a whole new generation of films that advertise a "money back policy", and we would be treated to a minimum of effort in understanding that we, the audiences, don't appreciate being treated like cattle, when we pay AND give our time to something that is supposed to be fun.

India deserves this, our cinema begs for this, and in all fairness, we deserve to keep our money intact until a good movie shows up.

No comments: