scratch the corresponding number on the card which
would release the appropriate aroma. Well, whether
the smell will be really aromatic is another question
altogether. But, the fact that has by now stumped
a lot of people is the kind of things film makers
are willing to do to give the audiences a complete
‘viewing’ experience. Well, it is not
a viewing experience in the exact sense of the word.
In this case, it would be an olfactory experience.
God knows, in years to come, film makers would attempt
to cover all our senses within the confines of theaters.
We already have vision covered with various versions
of 3-D, 2-D and even i-max being available. Our auditory
senses are also well treated with cutting edge technology
cutting into your earlobes at every theater. Now,
we have our olfaction accounted for. That leaves only
taste and touch to be covered. Well, how can one taste
a movie? By handing out appropriate eatables at various
points in the film – wonder how a vampire movie
will taste! And, what about touch? Well, that is a
But hearing about the smell of movies also takes us
back down memory lane when cinema viewing and exhibiting
were fairly uncomplicated things which required no
paraphernalia, except a pair of good eyes and ears,
sometimes patience and a good sense of humor. The
smells were confined to the unwashed washrooms. Then
came the revolution when film makers began to blame
the poor quality of theaters as one reason why their
films did not do well. Well, right or not, this did
bring a sea of change in the way we watched films.
One can still remember the jarring noises that were
made by speakers in local theaters every time a bomb
burst, especially in Vijaykanth films. Well, all that
slowly began to fade out as by the mid 90s, almost
every theater in town had a big logo along their masthead
which said ‘Dolby’ or ‘DTS’.
Well, no one knew the exact meaning of this at that
time, the only thing we knew was that such a theater
wouldn’t make you frown every time there was
an extra-loud sound effect. Actually, reaching the
theater early to catch up with the rather pompous
logos of these sound systems enhanced the overall
excitement of movie going. One also remembers another
variant, the Ultra Stereo which attempted a competitive
entry into theaters somewhere close to the late 90s,
that one too had a rather interesting theatrical logo.
Well, it could not edge out Dolby; perhaps the very
name ‘Dolby’ had a more majestic phonetic
quality than ‘Ultra’.
By the time, the 3-D revolution had also been introduced,
not established like it is nowadays with almost every
movie coming out of Hollywood having a 3-D version,
only rom-coms are spared. We also had i-max.
But, the next real viewing experience revolution came
through digital and satellite projection. No more
70mm and 35 mm stories; it was all being done through
satellite and we could see the difference. Nowadays,
every other theater carries this ‘QUBE’
technology. The one thing that has not changed perhaps
is the childish excitement that comes from entering
the theater early enough to catch up with the ‘QUBE’
logo flashing on screen. Now, we also have got the
UFO technology making its presence felt.
Then we have theaters competing with each other to
give the more exciting viewing experience. While Satyam
introduced RDX which promised DVD like clarity on
screen, Abhirami went the luxury way offering fully
reclining seats and massage chairs within theaters
(perhaps that is one way of covering ‘touch’)
and then we had Sangam which went all out to publicize
its newly acquired German import projector.
We all did expect picture and sound quality to get
better and better with each passing year. But, this
Spy Kid idea of bringing smell into the movie experience
is something that will have to wait for a verdict.
Only one thing that can be said at the moment is;
no amount of technology, be it 3-D, i-max, RDX or
aroma cards can make a poor movie feel good. Technology
feels or smells good only within the first 5 minutes
of a movie; then it is the age old basics of story
and screenplay that take over. Well, let’s wish
the Spy Kids and their ‘aromatic’ experiment
all the best. The Spy Kids might just be worth a ‘sniff’.