Let the Credits Roll

When was the last time you sat through the credits of a show or movie you watched? Chances are, if you were watching them on Netflix, the credits screen would have already been minimised, and the trailer of another trending show or movie would have started playing. Such a situation places the onus on us to consciously click and choose to continue watching the credits. When platforms do not skip credits, often we ourselves switch off our laptops or screens after the last scene, not caring for what comes after, or we’re too distracted and fidgety by then – already scrolling through Instagram, afraid that our phones might feel dejected and jealous at our having spent so much time with our televisions or laptops.

Every time I skip credits, I remember the screaming voice of my senior from college. This was at the end of a documentary screening for our department. She was furious because the organisers had switched off the movie after the last scene, and students had begun to disperse without watching the credits. It was the first time I had ever seen anyone react so passionately to something that I found unremarkable and absolutely normal.

At home, I never watched credits, wondering why I had to sit through random names on screen. The senior objected on the grounds that we must acknowledge and respect those who have lent their time and expertise to the cinematic endeavour, by sitting and reading their names. She was made to calm down by our professors who assured her that this was not the precedent and would never be repeated. This was an unfortunate one-off incident since we had extended the time allotted to us. I was amazed at her reaction, and thought about it for a long while.

This lack of sensitivity towards watching credits, which irked my senior, is perhaps exacerbated when OTT platforms offer to skip them. They reinforce the belief that these lists of names are unnecessary accessories which interrupt our seamless viewing experience. Their effort is to keep us hooked, and repeatedly keep watching something.

Back in the days when I used to go with my family to watch movies in the theatre, we always used to wait till the credits stopped because it was too crowded to leave immediately after the movie ended. So the sensibility to sit back and read through the names developed more out of convenience than a genuine commitment on my part. And even then, this sensibility was reserved only within the space of the movie theatre – it seldom extended beyond it.

Efforts are made to encourage us to watch credits by inserting songs, behind the scenes, post-credit scenes and so on. I still remember my excitement when the ‘Train Song’ started playing at the end of Gully Boy – I had been waiting for it the whole movie!

All these thoughts were ignited by singer Bindhumalini’s post on Instagram urging viewers to deliberately allow credits to roll for the Tamil movie Sethumaan on Sony Liv, because the platform automatically skips to the next movie. This leaves an important song by Pradeep Kumar unheard. As the film’s music director, Bindhumalini turned to Instagram to educate viewers about how to “continue” watching credits on the platform.

I must learn from my film scholar mother who not only sits through, but pauses and replays credits so she can appreciate, and also critique the work of cinematographers, costume designers, and sound engineers, and also marvel at the sheer amount of people who work on a single project. It is imperative that we work towards acknowledging, appreciating and respecting the work of the entire crew that works on a film or show. Developing the patience and sensibility to sit for a few extra minutes after a film, be it at home or in the theatre is not that big of a deal. Our phones can wait,  they’ll be there even after a few extra moments.

Shambhavi Gupta is a post-graduate in Sociology, an educator and a classical dancer who likes to read, sing, bake, and write down her thoughts.

Featured image: Noom Peerapong / Unsplash