Egged on by the challenge thrown by director Ram Gopal Verma that his latest horror film
was too scary to be watched all alone, a youth in Bangalore has enjoyed the movie with not a single soul around, by booking an entire 227-seat theatre all for himself.
The 30-year-old Pavin Ponanna, advertising professional and a native of Madikere in Coorg district of Karnataka, booked the Inox theatre paying Rs 47,000 for a night show on Sunday and watched the entire film.
"It was a challenge that I dared to accept," says Pavin referring to Verma who dared that he would reward Rs five lakh to anyone who could watch the film alone.
Though his apprehensive family offered a special pooja and insisted that he visit a place of worship before entering the theatre, Pavin said, he had little doubts he would emerge "unafraid". "I came out unafraid, a celebrity", he said referring to the calls that poured in, after he came out of the theatre.
Pavin said he would approach Verma to claim the award. But is unsure of receiving it since the contest date was over. "I will ask Verma to hand over the reward or I would challenge him to make another film that was horrific enough to scare me," he said roaring in laughter.
However, it was not the money that made Pavin take up the challenge.
"I thought it was also an excellent platform to showcase the bravado of Coorg, the district of daredevils. We Coorgs fear nothing. Back home we walk down on lonely deserted roads in total darkness since several parts have no streetlights. We are used to dark and lonely places," says Pavin, who is pursuing an entry into the Limca Book of Records.
Inox, which had made arrangements for solo viewing and had intimated the doctors at a hospital just in case anything went wrong, said they had no reasons to call the doctor.
"We had discreetly asked our men in the projection room to keep an eye on Pavin...Just in case," says Mohit Bhargav, regional manager of the theatre.
As Pavin's tensed wife and friends stood outside the hall, he watched the film from start to finish without even an interval in between or popcorn to bite into.
As the lights dimmed out, the theatre plunged into inky darkness and on came the haunting music and visuals. Pavin admitted it was a little unnerving to find him seated all alone in a theatre.
"The first five minutes were difficult because of the loud sound and visuals. I really missed my wife but not because I was scared, but because I haven't watched a movie without her since our marriage," he said.
And did his wife hand over any talisman when he went in. "No, just hugs and kisses as moral support," he laughs.
Pavin, who is obsessed with number seven and has his vehicle and other documents ending with seven, also chose seat number seven in the middle row to watch the film.
Though one particular scene of a protagonist looking into the mirror did give him some goose bumps, the film on the whole was not scary enough to make him either close his eyes or ears or stand up on his chair.
He came out beaming and shook hands with Sudeep, the actor of the film, who congratulated him.