Movies come to life at this amazing new event

Forget what you think you know about how a film should be enjoyed. This event is adding a fun twist (and shout) to the traditional cinema experience

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Everyone loves films. Whether you have your weekly cinema outings with friends, host movie nights at home or prefer to binge on Netflix, films provide a great source of entertainment as well as punchy one-liners that have become commonplace in conversation: “You can’t handle the truth!”.

But there’s watching a film, and then there’s really experiencing it. And that’s the idea behind Yas Movies in the Park, making its Abu Dhabi debut this month.

Hosted across two weekends from 15th to 17th and 22nd to 24th March on Yas Island, the immersive outdoor event will not only screen some top films, but also bring them to life with interactive entertainment. Plus, what’s better than watching a film under the stars?

Join the sing-a-long

From family-friendly flicks like Finding Nemo and Beauty and the Beast to iconic titles like Jurassic Park, the film line-up is exciting in itself.

Headlining the event is cult classic Greasepresented by Paramount Channel, a premium entertainment and storytelling channel but it’s not just Danny and Sandy on the silver screen. Dancers from London’s West End will take to the stage for an interactive cinema experience featuring live music, singing, dancing and crowd participation. Essentially, it’s the perfect excuse for a sing-a-long.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a T-Bird? Pop-up zones will give you the chance to show you’re worthy of a leather jacket: see if you’re quick enough at the Grease Lightening Challenge where you’ll race to change tyres, then head to the T-Bird Barbers to get a worthy quiff. Ladies can stop by the Beauty School Drop In then take photos in the themed photo booth.

While Grease is taking centre stage, there’s plenty more entertainment going on across the weekend. On the bill is live music from bands like The Swing Revue, stand-up comedy from Salman Qureshi, Bollywood dance shows and much more.

Film and performance times vary. For a full schedule, visit: yasmovies.ae

Bollywood magic

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A big part of Yas Movies in the Park will be dedicated to Bollywood, but you don’t have to be from Mumbai, or even the subcontinent, to appreciate the magic that is Indian cinema.

A riot of colour, song, dance, comedy, romance, crime and mystery, Bollywood films have it all. And with 17th March dedicated to Bollywood cinema with the screening of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (There Goes the Bride), you can be part of the drama.

Starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, the 1992 rom-com, billed as one of the most successful Indian films of all time, tells the tale of two expat Indians who meet on a trip around Europe.

But it’s not just about the celebrities on the silver screen. Bollywood actor, producer and director Arbaaz Khan will be making an appearance to meet fans and answer questions in a Q&A session.

The son of legendary actor Salim Khan, Arbaaz and his brother Salman have become top names in the industry. Since making his film debut in 1996, Arbaaz has gone on to act in numerous films, and has even turned his hand at producing and directing. Despite coming from such a successful and legendary family, Arbaaz says his destiny was never written for him, but rather it was a path he chose for himself.

“Since I was born in a film family I was always interested in being in films because my father was a very established and successful writer who’d made a big name for himself,” Arbaaz tells us.

“At a young age I decided I had to be associated with films in some way or another whether it was acting, producing, writing, anything. It wasn’t pure destiny, it was something I wanted to be.

“My father has been a great source of inspiration in my life. When I was starting my career he had a lot of advice to give, experience he’d had in his life being in the industry, basic ethics of working, professionalism, talent, hard work, being focused, dedicated and determined – these are things he instilled in us very young. He was also keen that we had a formal education so that if something didn’t work out in film we had something to fall back on.”

But as it turned out, Arbaaz didn’t need a plan B: After his successful debut in Daraar in 1996, which won him a Filmfare award for best villain, his career took off, and in 2010 he stepped behind the camera, setting up his own company, Arbaaz Khan Productions.

“I was always very keen on exploring different aspects of filmmaking. I was waiting for an opportunity where I could produce, direct or write a film.”

That opportunity came in the form of Dabangg – some of which was shot here in Abu Dhabi – starring Arbaaz’s brother, Salman, in the lead role.

“I was pretty nervous because we hadn’t worked in this aspect before and it was too big a film; I was also a little conscious as to how I should approach him because he’s not just my brother, he’s also an actor and a superstar,” Arbaaz admits.

“But we had a great rapport on the set, and we creatively gelled and didn’t have too many differences or opinions to fight on; more often than not we agreed on things. I think we collaborated very well.”

So well, in fact, that they went on to film a sequel after the original became the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2010 and one of the highest of all time. After such a successful stint as a producer, will Arbaaz stay behind the camera from now on?

“I pretty much like every aspect of filmmaking, and acting of course is something I started my career with and wouldn’t want to stop. But I must be honest and say I am also a behind-the-scenes kind of guy so being a director or producer is what I’ve developed as
part of my personality,” he confides.

“I’m a very creative producer so I get involved in every aspect of the filmmaking whether it’s selecting a script, the director, music, locations, costumes – I have a say in all of that and that keeps me involved. As an actor one would be a bit restricted because you’re only considering what you’re doing or told to do. As a filmmaker you have a holistic view of everything and have more creative control, which is something I like.”

Arbaaz is preparing to begin production on Dabangg 3 but says when that’s wrapped up, he wants to bring “some interesting cinema to the fore” and already has projects in the pipeline so fans can expect plenty more from the film veteran.

Do you have your own questions for Arbaaz? Ahead of his appearance at Yas Movies in the Park, the lines are open to ask him a question about his life as a Bollywood superstar. Visit yasmovies.ae to submit your question and if it’s selected, you’ll get to meet the man himself.

The Interactive Q&A with Arbaaz Khan takes place on 17th March from 6.25pm to 7pm.

The VIP experience

Tickets to Yas Movies in the Park are free, but there’s an option to upgrade your ticket for the VIP experience. For AED 100, you’ll enjoy priority viewing for Grease, a bean bag, two soft drinks and popcorn – because no movie is complete without popcorn. For AED 75, you can enjoy the same but with priority viewing to any of the other films screened throughout the weekend. The VIP experience is limited so register soon before slots fill up.

Need to know

What: Yas Movies in the Park
When: 15th-17th and 22nd-24th March, 4pm-11pm
Where: Gateway Park South, Yas Island
Tickets: Free entry but pre-registration required. VIP upgrades from AED 75
Visit: yasmovies.ae/registration

WORDS Rachael Perrett

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