[Also appeared in the DNA Sunday Mag]
If there is one thing I have learnt in eight years of posts and 57,405 comments at my blog “Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind” (http://greatbong.net) is that, nothing, and I mean nothing, gets the Indian audience more emotionally riled up than movie reviews.
I used to respect you as a human being. I am sorry but someone who does not understand the greatness of “Rockstar” deserves neither my respect nor my attention.?
“What? You liked “Ra One” And after this you would like us to believe your opinion counts for anything?”
“You didn’t think “Gulaal” was awesome. Yeah you are only good for reviewing Mithun-da movies. Don’t dabble in things above your intellect level.”
“More people watch Salman’s movies in a minute than those will read your book in a life-time. (I also write books). So yeah, suck it loser”
“No wonder you hate all movies by Shahrukh Khan. He ejected the Bengali God out of his team. Ha Ha.”
“You must be an Akshay Kumar fan”
“Trying to be contrarian just to be cool, eh?”
“He liked “Housefull 2” and not “Delhi Belly”. Says a lot about his understanding of great cinema.”
“When I came to read your review, I thought you would flog this movie. I can see you didn’t like it but you should have hated it more. I think you have lost your edge.”
You see, when I write about politics, the attacks, once you think about it, are quite simple. You are either a sickular (technical term for Congress supporter) or you are an Internet Hindu (Sagarika Ghose-given sobriquet for a Saffronite).
Simple black and white.
I can deal with that.
However when you review movies, the number of labels that may be attached to you are mind-bogglingly diverse—-Salman fan-boy, Shahrukh hater, Aamir lover, Hritthik camp slave, faux-intellectual, overtly-highbrow and so it goes. The only saving grace in my case is that because I am not a professional movie reviewer (which means I don?t get invited to pre-showings or special events) I have not been accused of writing paid reviews.
Not yet any ways.
In a way, I understand why people get so frothed up over movies reviews. You buy a ticket, go into the darkened theater and feel a personal connection with what is on screen. It moves you, it makes you laugh, it makes you feel pleased with yourself. You come home, go online or pick up a newspaper and there is this weirdo brutalizing that which so touched you deeply. How dare he? Who the hell is this person questioning, in effect, my taste and my intellect? Surely, he must be an idiot (if he isn’t then I am). No he is biased. That sounds right. He has been bought by “them”. Or he must be a fan of some other star. Maybe, I was correct the first time. He is an imbecile. Otherwise how can this man like “Gunda” and not “No Smoking”?
Here is the thing many forget. Movies are evaluated as per the parameters of their genre. For example, the fact that I consider both “Deewana Mastana” and “Dekalog” as masterpieces should not be taken as proof positive of intellectual schizophrenia or of sinister design. It is just that my definition and parameters of “enjoyment” and “brilliance” are context and content-specific.
In the final analysis though, a review will always be one person’s opinion. Just like any other viewer, a reviewer brings his own biases, preferences, personal history and beliefs to the theater. And just as a film is the projection of light and shadow on a screen, a review is a projection of that film on an individual’s mind. Thus it can never be impartial. Nor can it be expected to be.
And that’s just the way it is.