It is strange, think about it, the smarter we become the weirder we get. We smartly learnt to harness electricity and look at what we have done to nature. We became smart enough to create plastic but weirdly we do not know of a smart way to dispose it off without disturbing the environment. We all have been made to believe that ‘hard work pays’ but the one thing that pays more than the hard work is the ‘review’ of that hard work, but no one taught us that. However, we humans are smart enough to figure it out and that’s how weird the world has become.
Film Making: A tough business
Length of the film has no bearing on the hard work that goes into creating one. Rather, a short film requires more efforts for it to be more impact-full than a feature-length film which has enough time to build up the story and get the audience engrossed. The same is true for documentaries, web series and television series.
A film starts with ideation and collaborations; this itself is a tedious task for a core team is the backbone of any project. And don’t be fooled by the thought that hard work only means physically toiling yourself. Mental exhaustion is the buzz word these days, buzzing in everyone’s mind, questioning the degree which promised (or did not) a better livelihood, however, never did it say an easy life but that’s what we all assumed by a better livelihood; could this confusion be a reason in turn for the mental exhaustion? more on that later.
Getting the technicians to work on a set is another task in addition to the physical labor it requires. From getting the permissions, travelling to different locations, changing the schedule last-minute as the actor is now suddenly not available, to blindly believing the vision of the director since only he knows where the project is headed, working on the distribution channel for the film and managing the marketing aspect of the project, making even a single movie is one hell of a journey, an experience of a lifetime. Probably the last point is a good enough reason for artists like Raj Kapoor and many more to invest all they have in their art. The outcome in monetary terms may not be foreseen but the experience in making a movie can be lived while doing so, a reason for the creation of art. Artists are the reason why films still have their soul intact otherwise ‘TikTok’ was doing excellent in entertaining the masses.
A tougher job! Or is it?
A filmmaker while being an artist is also a businessman since the collections would allow him to keep floating in his art. We have seen filmmakers who are the progeny of the ‘New Wave Cinema’ proudly boasting of their ‘Art Movie’ not making enough money since the project was not for the masses, they, from their heart, know it for sure that had it made money they would have gotten more appreciation from the larger set, another reason for artists to express themselves publicly otherwise pain is felt by the non-artists as well.
Amidst all this there are a set of people, probably the smarter lot, which might be according to their own belief, are doing a much tougher job – To, without a bias (ahem!) Critique a film. They might not have even made a short 30-minute movie on their own ever but they have the might of a pen (or a keyboard these days!) which allows them to quash or elevate careers. Such power over the outcome of sweat and tears and dreams and struggle, even though not being on the ground might not have been experienced even by Krishna.
A two to the three-hour job of whether to give a 2-star rating or a 2.5-star rating to a movie which took months to be created with hundreds of people involved might indeed be a tough job since there are millions of people who make their decisions of spending their hard-earned money on sitting and watching something, basis the reviews. However, should it not be a reason in itself to not write about movies with a ruler in hand since it does influence people?
A review of the reviews
Firstly, the reviews are full of spoilers. Accept it, you also must have read reviews and in return gotten to know the essential cues, which the filmmaker would not have really wanted to reveal beforehand. These spoilers do their round in a review because of the second point that the so-called reviews are not reviews but a have a retelling of the story! Ask a film critique ‘Where is the critical take on the technical aspects of the film?’ and the answer would be- What! Is that also a part of the job!?! I quit.
The grandeur of the long shots, the impact of the tight close-ups, the visual appeal due to the pan, tilt, trolley shots, the pauses in between the dialogues, the imbuement of the background score on the story, the need for certain characters, the edits made in the film, the dialogues and many more, the list of the technical aspects on which a film can be ‘looked at’, if not reviewed, could perhaps be as long as it took to create that film. Yet, we read only about the plots and twists and turns of the story. It happens, perhaps, because it is easier to understand a story than its making just like it is easier to taste the food than to make it. Words are simpler to understand than to understand the eyes and that is what is there in the reviews, a movie in words, placed on a platter of a newspaper for people to quickly gobble up the uncooked words and make up a trashy image of things that has not yet been seen from their very own eyes. We are smart the world is weird, right?
On IMDB, a ‘Sonchiriya’ gets a rating of 7.9/ 10 as compared to 9.3/10 given to Dil Bechara and that’s what the audience can do if left to take their own call on the kind of movie to watch. The same ‘Sonchiriya’ was given a 3/5 by a so-called reviewer on the pretext of the slow pace of the film. Like seriously! Movies like these, which touch upon a topic rarely discussed otherwise, should they be reviewed from the perspective of the pace of their storytelling or the way the topic was handled?
A simpler approach could be to write about the film as what it is and what impact it creates in terms of the experience, bringing out the technical details and the beauty with which the story was told. Right, not every movie is as beautiful or impactful enough but it does require a lot of hard work to create even an otherwise average movie and thus that movie can be ‘discussed’ with that nuanced approach where the finer aspects of the film making are analyzed and left for the people to decide whether to watch it or not.
Furthermore, it should be left to the filmmaker and the producers of the movie to make the movie interesting for the audiences to watch. The trailers and the teasers should do the job. The posters and the PR should create the buzz and not the critics. Not every movie is for all and thus a critic who watches all movies with a single perspective cannot do the justice if the depth of subject is not known or the finer details of film making are not studied.
Another point to be noted here is that when it comes to Oscars or to Cannes it is said that these functions make a movie popular, they provide worldwide exposure to the film which in turn helps movie garner enough audience in the hometown that it becomes profitable thus ultimately helping the purpose of the movie. Strangely the same concept is not followed when it comes to regional movies. Neither the big award functions give any acknowledge let alone the appreciation to the wonderful world of regional cinema and neither these so-called ‘FILM CRITICS’ who otherwise claim to have followed the world of cinema closely take any such movies for the review purposes. A food critic cannot say that I would taste the food prepared only in the 5-star hotels and I would not taste the local flavours served by the standalone restaurants. Such thoughts violate the very purpose of the job in the first place.
A lesser point but a valid one is also that these reviewers, for some reason only known to them, review the ‘Hindi’ movies with such heavy use of English vocabulary that even the natives would have to search the dictionary to know their meaning forget about understanding the point behind a review. Perhaps the use of such heavy words for ‘Hindi’ films which themselves are made in a local dialect (a growing trend these days!) could be because of the lack of knowledge of technicalities or technical jargons. These writers look more of English professors than film reviewers. Time spent in writing a ‘commentary’ on the film and not ‘retelling of its story’ would have served the very industry, which gives them livelihood, better than otherwise.
The weird world
If we zoom out of the films and look all over we would realize that the same trend of ‘reviewing’ of the hard work is all around us and there could be now some educational institutions that would have come up to teach such ‘reviewing’ or have they already!
Tech, Auto, Books, Food, Politics and Education, all are ‘reviewed’ not by the technocrats but by the democrats if you get the pun, who would at the drop of a hat swear by the holy book adopted in 1950 but would not try to write a single point on the culture, history or morality depicted by any of these since there is no prescribed book of moral code or national esteem for that matter.
Since taking liberties is trending these days, we have also taken some in our kitty and reviewed the reviews of these reviewers and hope to get paid more.
Such a weird world indeed!
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