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Monday, June 09, 2014  

Cinema India

Once there used to be film critics

"Nowadays in the time of celebration of corrupts, Film reviews too have fallen in the hands of marketing people in the dailies of most of the newspapers in India. Any person who dares to judge a film by his or her gut is sure to be crucified with so called Gangs of Marketing Men. They are modern Men In Black who are out to write the new rules of journalism and their over enthusiasm to milk producers have taken a heavy toll on ethical film journalism."

Pankaj Shukla

   

Having stopped reviewing films on weekly basis long back, I hardly have an urge to watch each and every movie first day first show now. Friday noon or Thursday evenings used to be booked for a film in my weekly schedules for almost a decade then and no matter what, be it rain, the thunderstorms or the scorching heat, I had to be there to see a new film. Sometimes the time used to pass by with an entertaining film, sometimes it was more thoughts than entertainment that used to come to mind and sometimes it were all emotions. But to see a film and then curse the self for wasting more than two hours of life on a trash used to be a case once in a quarter. Even flop films till sometimes back had a sense and something or the other in their making had some magic to keep you intact.

Nowadays in the time of celebration of corrupts, Film reviews too have fallen in the hands of marketing people in the dailies of most of the newspapers in India. Any person who dares to judge a film by his or her gut is sure to be crucified with so called Gangs of Marketing Men. They are modern Men In Black who are out to write the new rules of journalism and their over enthusiasm to milk producers have taken a heavy toll on ethical film journalism.

Last year only when I was sitting with a close friend and one of the top most film distributors of Northern India, he cursed me for not writing weekly film reviews in a time when critics not only get plasma TV, double door fridges and foreign trip tickets but also their palms are greased well. I was aghast listening this and could only feel ashamed of the fact that the person sitting across the table is making fun of a profession which I almost fell in love. It was like listening someone abuse your darling and you could do nothing.

I don’t know how much truth was in his satire, but if he is wrong then how would a critic will rate a film with one star and other one will go on to give the same film four stars or sometimes even five stars. Not long back, a producer friend of mine wanted to make a film on this film review business and approached me to write a story for the same. I advised him if he wants to make a standing in the film trade, he should keep away from this and better make films on some other topics. Thankfully, he agreed and I was saved in washing dirty clothes of my own fraternity in public. But, now it is becoming above saturation point. It is like a time when somebody needs to stand up and say, Enough.

I liked the reviews of Minty Tejpal off late who used to write in Mumbai Mirror till very recently and may be because of his being true to his heart has cost him his job. His name has vanished from the paper’s weekly film review section. All these thoughts have been occupying much space of mind since the time I came out watching film 3 They Bhai recently. I was so much in praise of its producer Rakeyesh Omprakash Mehra till the time I didn’t see this film. He gave interviews with the headlines, ‘Producers in Hindi Film Industry do not have story sense’. And, he went on record to say that was the only reason he made 3 They Bhai. The headlines seekers gave huge space to Mr. Mehra in their papers. I am certain that he learnt this art from his hero in Rang De Basanti, Aamir Khan. Shout from the top of the highest building in town like Veeru and win Basanti (the viewers). Who cares what happened when Veeru and Basanti left in the train from Ramgadh. The money spent in buying tickets is in the pocket of the producer. His job is done, the viewers can wait for their revenge till his next film. As a producer he is not going to release his next film very soon in near future and it is certain that he will not have to bear the same burnt that Akshay Kumar is still facing post his idiotic comedy Singh Is King.

Gone are the days when writing a film review was deemed as an art. People used to line up to get an admission in film appreciation course, now every Tom, Dick and Harry is a film critic. Those who don’t even heard of plot points and basics of screenplay are the most talkative film critics in any press show. People who have no knowledge of music and its beats praise a shit song like National Anthem of the country. So overawed are these reviewers that they declare even a film like Raavan, a super hit, as soon as you start reading end credits in the theatre itself. One can now count genuine film critics in the country on finger tips, who are not in awe of stars, who don’t look for complementary things, who have no issue in watching a film with their own money than to watch in a press show and feel obliged for hardly 200 bugs. But, do newspapers have space to publish their views any more. The question is Too Boo or not to boo?

(Pankaj Shukla is a Mumbai based Senior Journalist and filmmaker, he can be contacted through pankajshuklaa@gmail.com)

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