Unlike the US where you have to just go back home disappointed when the seats are sold out for the movie you *so* wanted to watch, Indian theatres always give you a back up. If you are willing to cough up a premium over the price of a regular ticket, there are people who will be able to get you the tickets even though the movie is officially "sold out". Essentially these people sell illegal "black" tickets. Movie theatres claim that they dont encourage black ticket hawkers - but sometimes, the way the tickets are suspiciously sold out even if you arrive 2 hours before a big-name movie, you wonder (this has been happening long before the days of online booking).
When I was doing my undergrad, for me, black-tickets were a big no-no. Shelling out extra money to watch a movie was a bit too extravagant for me. Till the year 2000 rolled around. That was the year the movie Alaipayuthey got released. I have always been a big Maniratnam fan and I have to watch any movie of his in the theatre. My friend V and I decided to go to the theatre a few days after the movie's release. My cousins, K and S were visiting me at that time and my mom decided to send them as escorts (hahaha, my cousins were around 10 years old that time) for the both of us to watch the movie.
So, keeping in mind the popularity of the movie, the four of us arrived a good 2 hours before the movie started - only to see a big "SOLD OUT" sign. But of all the people who must have bought all those tickets, there was no sign. However, there were a whole bunch of characters who looked suspiciously like black ticket hawkers who were eyeing us greedily. As soon as we turned away from the ticket booth, with disappointed looks on our faces, all these characters made a beeline us. The current going rate for first class tickets was 50 rupees per ticket instead of the usual 40 rupees. V and me were scandalized. Black tickets??? Never!! Hmph, did they think we were fools?
And then we looked at each other again. Maniratnam movie. With a hero who apparently looked very cute. And we had come all the way to the theatre with so much excitement. After all what is an extra 10 rupees per ticket. We can always make up for it later. So gulping back our guilt, we asked for 4 tickets and paid the extra 10 rupees/ticket premium. I also gave my cousins a little lecture about how silence was golden and how they were not supposed to breath a word about black tickets once we got back home.
As the movie started, V and I hoped that the movie would justify the extra cost.Oh, it did and how! For starters, Madhavan looked extreeeemely cute (hehe, I have been waiting to put up this picture of Maddy somewhere ;-)). The story was lighthearted and told in an interesting manner. The music was wonderful and the picturization of some of the songs was breathtaking. When the movie ended both of us had difficulty taking our eyes from the screen. My cousins werent as impressed but they enjoyed the movie too. As we walked out of the theatre and V and I were discussing about what a total paisa-vasool movie Alaipayuthey was. And we reminded my cousins once again about the mouth-shut policy as far as the black tickets were concerned.
So, of course, as soon as I got home, K and S ran inside the house, loudly proclaiming, "Archu akka bought black tickets. We saw a movie with black tickets!" Grr! So much for silence is golden.
Alaipayuthey was the first movie I saw with black tickets. After that, I saw a few more high-demand movies with black tickets before I came to the US. Its been quite some time since I last bought black tickets though...