There’s an apologue about sucking up. It’s called ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ The story is about this emperor who is duped into wearing ‘invisible’ clothes and going out before his subjects. The subjects, of course, don’t want to offend the emperor, so they ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ about the clothes the emperor is wearing; until a child yells out ‘The Emperor’s naked! He isn’t wearing anything!’
I often think about that story when I think about the politic rhetoric or when I read a best seller or when I watch an award-winning film. But sometimes I think about this when I watch people’s reactions in movie halls.
I’d gone to see Mr. And Mrs. Smith.
Why? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
I sat through the movie?
Why? I’m a movie buff and Angelina Jolie.
I hated the film.
Why? Slow (fossils were regenerating at the pace of this flick), and Brad Pitt.
So there you have it – a film that has nothing to say, takes a long time to say it, and has an inarticulate but cute Archie Andrews as one of the spokesperson.
But the movie has witticisms, I suppose. I didn’t get several of them..but I could hear the forced giggles in the dark. And how do I know they were forced? Because they were so obviously hesitant. There’d be this loud chuckle followed by weak, wishy-washy twitters. After all, anything that Mr. Smith says with a clever arch of the brow, and any repartee that Mrs. Smith gives with a tilt of the head must be funny.
And so the charade went on. People who would have ordinarily got up and gone out for a smoke or a leak in movies like Bunty Aur Babli or Parineeta or Boogeyman stayed on to watch Mr and Mrs Smith making nothing out of nothing at all.
But just when it was getting intolerable, there was a slight twist of lime.
Pitt and Jolie find out that the other one is a spy. Both are hurt at being deceived. They are in separate cars driving home. Pitt is on the phone with Jolie. He asks her ‘What did you think of me when you first saw me?’ Jolie wants to hang up because…well, you know – husband being spy and all, but like all women, she doesn’t really want to disconnect the phone. ‘You go first’, she says defiantly. Pitt, ever the maverick jock, says with an almost funny tenderness, ‘When I first saw you, you looked like Christmas morning.’
Forty people smiled in the flickering light of the cinema – genuinely.