Film criticism – kya se kya ho gaya – how the trade of movie reviews has fallen
I still remember, as a child I eagerly waited for the monthly women’s magazine that my mother used to read. I used to peep out of the window and as I’d see the newspaper guy, I will jump out and grab the magazine before anyone else gets a look of it. I will run to the terrace with the magazine and directly go to last few pages, where they used to print movie reviews.
There were 1 or 2 reviews of the film that released days before and were still running. Reviews were simple in nature – Director did a good or bad job, could have done better. Actor is good, heroine looked beautiful, lyrics are good, music is OK, camera work is good or bad, and son on. There was hardly any intention to hurt the filmmaker by teaching him a few things or take revenge from the makers for some grudge the writer may be having.
As the review came only days after the release, one could clearly see the intention of the critic – it was pure judgement of the film with some fine, and easy, language. With the growth of publications, film reviews became an important part of the copy. Newspapers always had their film reviewers who were as honest (not pretentious) as were the films in those times.
Times changed. TV and then Twitter arrived. TV was still okay, though reviews started becoming dumber and reviewers/critics started becoming star. But now we are in the digital age.
Social media is as important and addictive to us as a daily dose of cup of cappuccino. With Facebook and Twitter providing audience, suddenly there was an army of film critics born. They were supposed to be “independent” or associated themselves with various websites. And all of them started bombarding people with their reviews, rather, views.
They all serve the purpose as the films. The common man is busy in daily odds in life and finally he needs entertainment, which is provided either by the movie or the movie critic! Perfect example is one critic on Twitter. He calls himself number 1 critic, apart from being an actor. It’s okay, we, the audience, follow him for his ability to provide entertainment, in the form of abusing top actors, directors, writing demeaning language about actress and so on. It is another thing that if you are forced to see his first (worst) film for a day, you will either want to kill the person or will want to kill yourself.
A director once told me that if a film works, no matter what the content is, it is good. Same applies here; if a critic provides reviews and entertainment, no matter what language he speaks, people will follow him.
However, there is something else that is happening behind scenes. Few days back I was shocked to know a different kind of film criticism business – Pay a decent amount to the most popular or unpopular social media critic, and your job is done!
The critic knows that the audience is smart, so he reviews film accordingly so that he is not caught. If a film is very bad, he will rate it average. If it’s average, he will rate it good, and so on. Those who follows the film critics, are being taken for a ride. They are being trasported to a different environment, where the words of the critic affects them. and it affects the business of the film too.
Suppose yours is a very good film, and a popular critic rates it a bad film a day before release. It does affects the Day 1 business. The filmmakers who are paying to these critics are supporting a different kind of business – of extortion! And they are not doing good to film industry and the audience.
A director joked about it and said there should be column in the film budgeting sheet, where amount payable to critic is added to the total budget of the film.
Today anyone can create a blog (the way I am doing) and a social media account, and start reviewing a film. There is no qualification require to be a film critic, neither there are any schools where you can get graduated in film criticism. I bet if there is a school of Film Criticism, these so called number one critics will fail (with distinction).
I do like to read film reviews but not of those who reviews with some intentions. I still enjoy reading Rahul Desai and Rohit vats, their reviews are not pressured; there is no intention of revenge from Filmmaker, not meant to insult Filmmaker.
I am not a writer, nor an Oxford English student, any mistakes hitting your educated, intellectual mind, please excuse me. But do give your feedback. Waiting for your feedback and your views on the subject.
Thanks for your time.
Writer,Indie Filmmaker from Mumbai