Movie theater culture varies dramatically, but in most places audiences respond out loud in ways that are normative and even, in a sense, ethical. These modes of response are a very important part of how people are expected to relate to artwork. For instance, Film Forum has sustained, respectful silence with dashes of old-man snore, followed by a hearty concluding round of applause to recognize auteurship. The UA on Court Street has text-pages and outdoor voices. You might be interested to know that Jaipur, India has crying, whistling, and viewers generally wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

Although none of us knew a word of Hindi, the plot of “Rab Ne Bana De Jodi” (“God Made This Couple”) was pretty transparent. We were riveted for more than three hours (plus an intermission) by a twisting love story in which two of India’s most glamorous models played an ordinary working couple struggling through an arranged marriage. In a device I found Shakespearian, especially for its implausibility, the male lead did double-duty as a working schmo and a hubristic fop, changing only his shirt, glasses, and mustache in the transformation.

You get the idea from the trailer:

Anyway, the crowd in the gigantic one-screen theater with the ice cream paint job treated the movie like an event from the opening shot. Particularly in the first and the last half-hour, every scene was accompanied by shouts of delight and expressions of concern. By the end, the crowd was worked up, and the babies were at their crankiest. As the protagonists (fop now revealed as schmo) were named the winners of the climactic dance contest, and the central motif began playing for the last time (1:45), there was a grand finale of appreciative clapping and whistling.

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