films
Dec
16

2013

The Real Hero: The Critic Who Watches Crappy Movies Week After Week



A few weeks ago I stood on the fence of a major decision. On one side were my strongly held beliefs of not supporting crappy Hindi cinema no matter what the pressures to do so. On the other, stood an angry girlfriend. So as the man with the baritone voice squeezed the representative tar out of the representative lung in the No Smoking PSA, I consoled myself with the logic that it wouldn’t count as really supporting the movie since we had got the tickets for free.

The movie was a dud. Not the “I-hate-this-movie-so-much-that-it’s-giving-me-heartburn-but-will-still-make-100-crores” bad. This was “This-movie-is-so-bad-that-the-seventh-AD- will-prefer-to-wait-another-year-to-register-his-IMDB-page-than-have-this-on-his-resume” bad.

Now I normally hate the much hallowed interval point in Indian films. It ruins many good films by forcing screenwriters to write in a cliff hanger where it doesn’t belong thus causing a second half lag. And the irony is that the food that’s delivered to your seat post-interval is usually the only way to keep yourself entertained until the climax of the film starts.

But this time I cheered as the lead character froze mid-leap and a brightly coloured card announced Intermission. The girlfriend felt I had been tortured enough and I was allowed to leave. As I rushed out of the theatre, I called a friend to meet me at the nearest bar. I figured if I drank fast enough I could prevent the film from moving from the short term to the long term memory part of my brain.

It is then that I remembered how often I have been on the receiving end of that same phone call from friends who are film reviewers. Here I was debilitated in just half a bad movie while these guys have to watch everything that releases. Just imagine every bad poster, teaser, trailer and song you have ever seen and wondered “Who the hell will watch that?” To give you an idea there were 165 Hindi films released in 2012. And this list along with the nuggets of gold that were Rowdy Rathore, Son Of Sardar and Players also contains instant classics like the compelling political drama – Ab Hoga Dharna Unlimited; the answer to why bad films get made — Chal Pichchur Banate Hain; and it’s inevitable sequel — Mere Dost Picture Abhi Baki Hai. This last one is considered a low point even for “Suniel Shetty’s acting career”. Those last 4 words even though not fitting the definition are still the best way to explain to a child what an oxymoron is.

And what do film reviewers get in return for this intellectual masochism? A comments section full of death threats where the appalling grammar hurts more than the sentiment. A few film reviewer friends of mine sent me these gems from their inboxes. Have a look at them and tell me what you think.

rs3A Salman Khan Fan accused the reviewer of fraud.

5A fan asking the reviewer to die for writing a terrible review.

6Mr. Reviewer – “You are a terrible mistake of your father”

ms5

“You are a pig if you write a review against Shah Rukh Khan” – A Shah Rukh Khan Fan

rs2Anything against Salman Khan is unbearable.

Every second person wanting to convince you that their favourite star’s movie deserved more stars because.. 100 crores. And a lack of empathy for Monday phobia, as they spend their entire week dreading Fridays.

So here’s ***** from me for all you Hindi film reviewers for boldly marking a walkable path through the minefield of Friday releases. A promise to keep my Friday evenings free in case you call for a post-bad-movie-drink and to never recommend T.G.I.F. as an option.

[The views expressed here are the author's own.]

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