First Half vs. Second Half

by meeta | 2 comments | 3,642 views | Add comment

How often have you come out of the theater shaking your head in despair and saying/hearing, “the first half was good, but they completely @#$%&* it up after interval, man!!!”

This is what I call the first half-second half syndrome. Of course, there are times when the movie becomes more enjoyable in the second half. But, we’ve lost too many movies to this disease. The latest being Bhoothnath.

Why does this happen? I have no answers, only a lot more questions.
Note: In the examples here, I’ve enjoyed one half enough to not hate the movie overall, and in some cases, I’ve forgiven the flaws enough to be in love with the movie. The point is not whether you agree with the examples or not, but to wonder why this phenomenon exists.

What is the writer thinking?
Some of these movies feel like two different movies, at the broad plot level itself. One example that just bounces out of my memory is Fanaa. This one would have certainly worked better for me if it had been two movies. Mixing two issues could have been okay if there was some synergy there. The mid-point shock seemed for the sake of shocking instead of it being an integral part of the story - it stood out.

So, is this how it works?
“Let’s write this nice story.”
Couple of months later…
“Hmm…nice, but too nice, it needs a commercially viable ‘different’ feature… ”
Couple of months later…
“Aha…There you go, there’s your twist…”
Tada!!!”

Is it that, just because it is “different”, the writing style becomes different too? Is that why this gets magnified in the screenplay and dialogues?

How come the texture becomes different too?
Its not like movies are shot in sequence. Then, how come the feel of the movie changes drastically between the two halves? Case in point - Taare Zameen Par. From a subtle lyrical narration it suddenly transforms into in-the-face, let’s-not-take-risks story-telling.

How or why this happens has been a mystery to me for the longest time.

Is this a “Hindi movie” concept?
I don’t recall thinking in these terms while watching a non-Hindi movie. Is the “interval” to blame for this? Does the break bring a break in the way we are digesting the movie? If yes, then it should mean that the same movie could be perceived differently if we saw it at one go. Does that mean it all comes down to perception and we can train our brain to ignore the break?

Note: I don’t say “Indian” instead of “Hindi movie” because I haven’t seen enough regional cinema to make such a comment. You tell me, does this concept exist in cinema from other parts of the country too?

Is this prevalent more in mainstream cinema versus parallel cinema?
Again, I think in general, movies that aren’t made for the sole purpose of pleasing a majority of the masses, viz. parallel cinema, suffer from this syndrome. Is it because mainstream cinema requires a greater suspension of disbelief and they end up pushing the envelope? Is it because this kind of cinema requires a mixing of genres and at most times the mixing happens in chunks, rather than genres flowing in and out of each other?

Note: For lack of words to differentiate between the run-of-the-mill crowd-pullers and the out-of-the-box type of movies, I use the terminology above. So let’s not get into the nitty-gritty of the definitions of those terms.

Does length of the movie play a role too?
I get the general feeling that a movie over 2 hours is more likely to suffer from this condition than shorter ones. Is it because the longer it is, the more difficult it is to be consistent?

I know this post touches upon too many issues. And I know, its entertainment after all, so one is not really supposed to activate so many gray cells. But, I really want to like more movies, and when I don’t like one, I want to know what went wrong, especially when I liked a part of it.

- meeta, a part of the audience

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The first half vs. second half disease in Bollywood...

How often have you come out of the theater shaking your head in despair and saying/hearing, “the first half was good, but they completely @#$%&* it up after interval, man!!!”

This is what I call the first half-second half syndrome. Read on for a...

First half vs. Second half | DesiPundit:

[...] wonders about the reasons for the “first half-second half syndrome“. I don’t recall thinking in these terms while watching a non-Hindi movie. Is the “interval” [...]

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