Whip out your sense of adventure and acting skills for the second edition of Zoetrope in Chennai
If the plush seats and flavoured popcorn at your local cinema are losing their attraction, it is time to give Zoetrope’s movie screenings a chance. Founded by Sharan Reddy, Krishna Bezawada and Rohit Koliyot, a trio of film buffs, it set off a buzz among movie lovers last year, and is back for a second edition. Calling themselves a clandestine movie society, their screenings follow the Secret Cinema concept that is popular in Europe and is designed for adventurous movie lovers. “We will not reveal the title of the movie or the location of the screening till the day of the screening,” says Koliyot, adding, “The audience enjoy the element of surprise.” In fact, to maintain the suspense, they disclose clues through emails and social media posts as the screening date approaches.
When Zoetrope debuted in the city last January, the movie they chose was The Birdcage, the 1996 comedy starring Robin Williams. Since it revolved around the theme of gender identity, they had set up a booth at the venue to help the audience dress in drag. “It left food caterers perplexed,” chuckles Koliyot, who is always on a lookout for new venues. Last year, they revealed the venue – open air, at a spacious mansion in Alwarpet – on the day of the event. “The central idea behind our activities is to build suspense,” says 34-year-old Reddy.
Reddy had come across the idea when he had worked with Secret Cinema in San Francisco, the European company specialising in the immersive movie experience. Their USP was to arrange screenings at open spaces and create a cinematic ambience with enormous sets and props from the movie. Impressed, Reddy returned to Chennai to create Zoetrope. “Ours is not a commercial initiative. The fee we collect barely covers the cost. We are more keen on building a community of people who are interested in the concept of immersive cinema,” he adds.
The first screening of Zoetrope was attended by 100 people, many in their 20s.The group is expanding slowly, and will be screening an ‘undisclosed’ movie in two secret locations in Chennai and Bengaluru this Sunday. Sticking to the format of sharing clues, the group has already revealed two: Fozzie Bear saying Waka Waka and Laurel and Hardy with fingers to their lips. If you feel you know the answer and love the sense of mystery, book a seat for this Sunday’s screening, which is open to only 150 people.
From 5 pm. Rs 975 (dinner and beverages included). Details: zoetrope.in / 9940021115