Capitalizing on Crash winning the 2004 best picture Oscar, Sathyam Cinemas released it soon after the movie’s upset victory over Brokeback Mountain that year. I always look forward to catching Oscar winners in the theatre and booked tickets for two early in the week.
My friend and I arrived a little late only to find that the row behind our seats had been occupied by a drunken, noisy lot. Now Crash is a sort of movie in which if you don’t follow the dialogue, you would find yourself being unable to follow the plot. My friend and I had a horrible time as the group behind us made cat-calls, wolf-whistles and primate-like noises. After they refused to quiet down despite several warnings from me, I walked down and met the Sathyam theatre management for the first time in my life. The response was quick and effective. Soon, the drunken lot were in a police jeep heading for the station while my friend and I abandoned the movie (we had missed too much of it) and made our way home.
The above example is just one among the many I can recall to illustrate how responsive the Sathyam management is when compared to other theatres in Chennai. I remember what my first movie in Sathyam theatre was. I was new to Chennai and Matrix had just been released. I was quite oblivious to the phenomenon the movie had become and entered the theatre as a novice to the world of Neo. That was before the remodeling, but even then Sathyam was a dream-theatre. It was as if when you entered the theatre some of the stardust from the screen rubbed off on you.
Then Sathyam remodeled itself twice, each one more lavish than the last. It added a desert parlour, two new theatres, a renamed one and two whole levels for Blur, the multiplex’s gaming arcade, which is one of its kind in the country. A new south Indian restaurant sprang up on the first floor called Id and though the food was pricey the quality was equally excellent. Right from the menu, to the way food is served and the utensils are used, the restaurant is like no other in Chennai. Also the chocolate bar, Ecstasy, immediately gives you a feeling of being in alien land (Los Angeles, perhaps?). The menu is eclectic and the lounge is an attraction in its own right. For parents with toddlers, Sathyam also has space for kids to play as you watch the movie.
A few months after the theatre was redesigned I took my friend who had just returned from the US to Sathyam. He was awed by the theatre and the way it had digitally-displayed movie stills and promos. He said theatres like Sathyam were rare even in the US. It was clear that Sathyam was past the stage of competing with the other cinemas in Chennai. It was now pitching itself as one of the best in the country. Gaming centres like Blur are not even present in Mumbai.
The online experience of Sathyam is also beyond compare. You can book tickets, mark the seats you need and even order your snacks online, which will be delivered to you during the course of the movie. Consequently, most of the tickets now are sold online, and Sathyam was finally able to kill the queue like its famous ads once proclaimed.
Satyam also has expanded its parking lot, which used to be a regular complaint of its patrons. When the patronage increased, they expanded to a sizeable plot adjacent to the theatre to accommodate the spill-over of vehicles.They also introduced minivans to ferry passengers to and fro from the adjoining lot. However, the parking is still cramped and could do see some improvement.
With its white walls, digital display of stills, clean toilets and friendly staff, Sathyam makes the movie going experience hassle free and leaves us to enjoy the movie in bliss.