April 22, 2022
When watching a Thalapathy Vijay movie in theaters, you can expect the audience to cheer loudly when he first appears on screen. He is, after all, one of the reigning kings of Tamil cinema with over 30 years in the industry, consistently setting box office records with his releases.
But, during an April 12 screening of Vijay’s latest mega film Beast in Toronto, the sold-out audience cheered not just at the start but any time he sent one of the bad guys flying through the air — which meant most of the 162-minute run time. There was dancing in the aisles as the hit song “Arabic Kuthu” played, people clamored over each other amid torn-up ticket confetti, and a young man even took his shirt off and whipped it around in glee. These elements are usually part and parcel of a first-day first-show experience for any major Indian film, especially in India.
The thing is, the film wasn’t very good. But watching the movie was a joy because of the experience we fellow moviegoers shared. The coronavirus pandemic has deterred many from visiting theaters over the last two years. But Beast is a perfect example of a timepass movie — those illogical flicks that you must watch in a cinema hall because you’re craving popcorn and animated commentary. Beast’s box office success — despite the mediocrity of its plot — indicates that blockbuster timepass movies like it are here to stay, along with theatrical experiences.