Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Hardboiled tweets”

Thanks to social media, the world has become an even more unfair place. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Every time a major release ends up being savaged on social media, there rises a question about the fairness of it all. The points made by the filmmakers and their PR people are these: “No one can tell you whether to like or dislike our film. You’re going to have your opinions, like everyone else, and if some of these opinions aren’t in our favour… well, tough luck. But be evenhanded while disbursing these opinions.” Their concerns are understandable, and these are the concerns of everyone who’s made a film and let it go into the unpredictable realm of the audience, over whom filmmakers have no control. And what they’re asking, in return for their months of labour, sometimes even years of labour, is that we treat the film with respect.

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But of course, this isn’t always going to happen. And before we get into that, let’s acknowledge the obvious reason today’s filmmakers so fear social media: the cost factor. Every creator – a writer, a poet, a painter, a musician – worries about how his work will be received, but books and art and music aren’t consumed in large volumes and by such diverse strata of society, at least not the way films are. Films cost crores to make and market, and the audiences have shrunk due to piracy and other entertainment options, and so good buzz is critical. And nothing can kill good buzz (rather, create bad buzz) quicker than social media. I was in a theatre last year awaiting a screening of a high-profile Tamil movie (this was the second show on the first day), and the man in the next seat kept complaining to his companions that he’d heard what a bad film this was, and after about twenty-odd minutes of the film, he whipped out his smart phone and began to tweet (about the movie, I presume). I know, I should have had my eyes on the screen in front, but the bright light of these phones makes you look away and you find yourself staring, if only for a second, at the source of that light, which means you end up peeking at what’s on that screen as well.

No filmmaker wants this, but there’s nothing that can be done about this either. Films did get affected by bad word of mouth even earlier, long before social media were even thought of and the only social media were friends and the families next door and the colleagues at work, but two things have changed since then. One, films were released in just a handful of theatres, so fewer people got to see them at one go, and so there were fewer opinions to go around (at least during the first week, because the reviews in the papers would appear only the following Friday). In other words, it’s not that people have suddenly become more opinionated today. It’s just that they had to wait their turn to formulate these opinions. The second thing that’s changed, of course, is the medium of communication. Not only do films get released on a huge number of screens, but the correspondingly huge numbers of audiences can also begin updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts with live commentary.

And this gets shared or re-tweeted unto infinity, and before you know it, bad buzz has settled on the film like sweat on skin. As I said, nothing can be done about this. Like all technology, social media brings with it pros and cons. (And if you take away social media, then you’re missing out the lightning-fast ability to build good buzz as well, in case audiences like your film.) Also, once you put yourself out there, by choosing a profession that thrusts you in the public eye, I guess you’re fair game. In the early days of writing reviews, I used to Google up my name to see who was talking about me and what they were saying. It was such a thrill, eavesdropping on people saying nice things about my work. But then, I discovered that they could be saying nasty things as well, and the need for a benign form of ego-massaging was quickly replaced by the need for self-preservation. It took a bit of self control, but I don’t Google up my name anymore. (It helps when you don’t have a smart phone.)

But my case, like that of people who write for newspapers and blogs, is different from that of filmmakers, because we don’t have money riding on other people’s opinions. In a roundabout way, probably yes, because what people say about you can, in the long run, boost your profile or bring you down, and this could have some sort of impact on your career – but at least it’s not a life-and-death situation like it is for filmmakers who have not just their careers at stake (let’s ignore reputations, for now) but also huge amounts of money. A filmmaker could point this out to a social media user, that great power brings with it great responsibility, but no one’s going to care. They’ll say, “Hey, I gave you my two-hundred bucks. I am entitled to my opinion, and I am going to splash that opinion all over town.” And they’re right. They could perhaps temper the sarcasm in these opinions, and maybe use their creativity somewhere else instead of coming up with witty putdowns of the film. Perhaps they could be nicer – but they’re right.

Lights, Camera, Conversation… is a weekly dose of cud-chewing over what Satyajit Ray called Our Films Their Films. An edited version of this piece can be found here.

Copyright ©2013 The Hindu. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

49 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Hardboiled tweets”

  1. I think this affects an independent filmmaker more as their films are more dependent on good word of mouth. Big-budgeted movies, unless stalled due to protests and strikes, usually flood the cinema halls with so many prints that in the first weekend itself the collections are astronomical (in ‘Halla Bol’ the Ajay Devgan starrer it was termed cheekily as ‘hit and run’). But with sky high budgets though, the first weekend collections might not be enough.


  2. An expression of one form is afraid by the expressions about it! Tomorrow politicians will ask films to be ‘nicer’ towards them. And so on.. Lets all be nice to each other to cut our loses so that we can pay the so-called stars even more..


  3. Is there a study of expenditure incurred for making movies (in different countries)? I am looking for the proportion of expenditure spent on lead actors.


  4. How many movies have started out a dud and blossomed to a classic ? Well, I feel such an audience reaction will only lead to better screenwriting. And shorter focussed movies. 2 hrs of complete entertainment.


  5. Filmmakers can’t have it both ways – on the one hand claim “Nobody cares about film critics, it’s the audience opinion that counts” and then complain if the audience starts expressing their opinion collectively and rapidly.
    I think it’s a good thing, extra criticism.Filmmakers/Producers/Production houses might become more careful about how they utilize their money. ( I wouldn’t mind a few big blockbuster movies if they also spread their money into smaller budget movies as well.)
    In the end nothing really changes I guess. Crappy films are still doing well, so I guess movie marketing folks are becoming savvier in how they push through their “product”. (by pushing through more prints or whatever)


  6. I agree about commenting/reviewing with respect and sticking to only the craft rather than taking digs at the director/actor etc.. But let’s nt forget movies are primarily for entertainment and if they fail to satisfy this primary objective then they are willingly subjecting themselves to the bashing :)
    Why the NEP picture?


  7. Ok – read the piece now :)
    And not just that , this twitter prompts us , squeezes our intermediate emotions , submitting ourselves to spit in 140 characters soon and have the ‘be the first , look at me ‘ value to it .

    So instead of thinking as A->B->C->D , what happens is A->B ( do a tweet, fight , wait, fight ) -> X -> ( retweet someone ) -> C-> go into other details and we get lost . Our capacity to have continous thinking forgeting what is happening around is replaced by a concentrated effort on multitude of unrelated tweets !


  8. “…, but the bright light of these phones makes you look away and you find yourself staring, if only for a second, at the source of that light, which means you end up peeking at what’s on that screen as well.”


    I hate being distracted from the emotions the movie evokes in me by those damned phone screens which light up in a dark cinema hall; surely, one of the most aggravating facets of a movie experience in theatres for me.

    I do hope that some day, theatres everywhere will start emulating the Alama Drafthouse in Texas, when they kicked out a “patron” for repeated texting –


  9. On tweeting during the movie:
    This is the heights(or lows) of the want-to-be-heard syndrome of social media and seriously needs to be looked into.
    Cinema halls in the US have a pre-movie advisory that cautions the viewers against using their smartphones inside the hall, stating that they will be asked to leave if found doing so and if it’s really urgent they better step out. And guess what? People do keep up with it; haven’t noticed any light from phones while watching movies.


  10. Maybe if films stop treating the audience like they are a bunch of 5 year olds, they will also stop responding like one.
    I do agree that social media has given a loud megaphone to viewers who are rarely interested in the medium which does serious disservice to film makers whose movies demand a serious appreciation of the art form.
    Recently my friends who watched Kadal had opinions that ranged from a terse “bore” to a verbose “semma blade machi”. I didn’t expect them to “ranganize” :) the movie but a film auteur like Mani deserves more than 140 characters.


  11. This post sounded to me like a business case for my current professional role:) As a Social Media Analyst at a consulting firm, we receive requests from clients to study the post-release buzz of a movie and how it could impact the DVD sales. Actors are reaching out to various social media consulting firms to understand their current buzz and how they could tackle negative buzz.. Several producers have begun collaborating with Social Media Agencies to take care of marketing/buzz right from the day when the movie is launched for production. Although I have my professional biases towards social media, I think it would be unfair to say that it has made world unfair. Several film-makers get their funding through Social Media, using crowd-sourced funding. It has given a platform to several indie film-makers.

    Btw, whenever you drop down to Mylapore for your vazhaipoo vadais, would you oblige your fans with autographs for your book? Especially for those who couldn’t catch you during the launch:)


  12. This reminds me for some reason of the despairing entreaties from some fans to go easy on the late Whitney Houston when her attempted comeback in 2010 went horribly wrong. Those who had attended the shows said, “Yeah, we paid $XXX, we have the right to expect something.” Damn right they were too. On the other hand, they can be equally brutal even when there’s nothing particularly remiss about the work other than that it didn’t establish a personal connection for THEM (but maybe to many others potentially?).

    With that told, personally I rarely go by the recommendations or criticisms of people who make snap judgments on art – the one magic line to diss it all style, that is – because it generally reflects a closed mind to me. It’s one thing when the film is flat out bad and another when it’s just different from what you thought it would be based on the reviews or trailers.


  13. Audience these days are so easily distracted. Or, to put it differently, they enter a cinema hall in an already distracted state of mind and is more than willing to disturb others. The proliferation of Internet enabled mobile devices has contributed to increasing state of distractedness. I get annoyed in a cinema hall when phones ring. It is also annoying when people sitting next to you start talking to each other in the middle of a show. Worse is when they arrive in groups and end up having a “gala” time — much to the chagrin of a lone movie goer like me. Nothing can be done about this menace. I doubt if mainstream audiences will have the ability to sit through a film that has long stretches of poetic silence. No, most of them need meteoric sounds to keep them sedated in their seats.


  14. MumbaiRamki: Yeahm the race to be the first with an opinion is one of the things I’m writing about.

    S. Prasad: Egads, those “gala time” audiences are the worst. I mean, I get they’re kids and they’re having fun and all. But I just wish they did it during another show :-)

    Gradwolf: The film I refer to here isn’t “Kadal” :-)


  15. I find Venky’s comment a bit disturbing:

    “Several producers have begun collaborating with Social Media Agencies TO TAKE CARE of marketing/buzz… “


  16. I agree with what I read on twitter- A good film will always survive… Didn’t expect you to write this one-dimensional essay…


  17. “Filmmakers can’t have it both ways – on the one hand claim “Nobody cares about film critics, it’s the audience opinion that counts” and then complain if the audience starts expressing their opinion collectively and rapidly.”

    Thats exactly what GVM said, that nobody cares about the negative opinions about his films which are in the minority anyways. But when the negative buzz builds up and the film flunks, I guess its difficult to ignore these opinions all off a sudden.

    BR, I wonder why you wrote this piece. Did some other director come to you and crib about how social media killed the buzz or something like that? Idhu yedho oru director saarba yezhudhina maari irukku. Also are there any hard stats to prove that buzz in social media can have an effect on BO success? For a movie-going habit bordering on being ritualistic, I wonder what percentage of the viewers actually change their minds based on bad tweets.


  18. “Worse is when they arrive in groups and end up having a “gala” time — much to the chagrin of a lone movie goer like me”

    Actually the best time I had that way was when watching a tamil movie called M3V few years back. Maybe not more than 20-30 in the theater(Udhayam I guess) and I was kind of obligated to watch it because of the director being a distant relative and all. The “gala” crowd helped me survive the film, thanks to them :-) You need to pick your movies wisely to watch in the theater.


  19. An intemperate tweet on my part but the subject deserved it (your post here and the previous one on Kada occasioned the Fadnavis reaction):

    [The Raavan logic emerges here with @mihirfadnavis all over again. Everyone has disliked Kadal, the film is a flop, so why does Rangan dare to defend it?! This is the mob mentality. When a lynching is in progress don’t be the person trying to save the poor guy. Since everyone else is part of the lynching they must have the right reasons! So the ethic @mihirfadnavis and others of his ilk subscribe to is that of a lynch-mob.

    Allow me some laughter if someone who works for Midday chooses to question the ethics of Rangan or suggests that he’s lost respect for the latter because of a perfectly pertinent and intelligent post. Leaving aside the fact that Fadnavis never finds it necessary to point out the corrupt practices of much of the media/trade establishment in Bombay, and just how nakedly and crudely these things happen. At Midday Fadnavis ought to have special insight in these matters! It’s a total cesspool with the Bombay film media. But the likes of Fadnavis have nothing to say about this. The problem they have is with Rangan! It is a bit like having a problem with Truffaut because he co-authored the same sort of book with Hitchcock and this because he was always a huge Hitchcock fan. His opinion then shouldn’t amount to anything. So all of Truffaut’s opinions on Hitchock’s failures will have only been defensive pieces!

    It is the oldest trick in the world to not argue with the substance of a piece and use abstractions like ‘defensive’ and what not. Once again no way of saving a guy from the lynchmob. You might have justice on your side, you might have the higher morality (or the only possible morality) on your side but the onus will still be on you to prove this before an audience of er… not exactly persuasive types!

    The list of films in every industry of the world that were once panned by both critics and audiences and were slowly recognized over time as important or great or greatest are enough to comfortably fill up an encyclopedia! Not that one necessarily expects such education from the staff at Midday! Just as we don’t exactly consider all the lynchmobs of history to be as justified in their actions as they might have imagined committing those acts.

    Fadnavis is a symptom here. Of his own lack of ethics in a variety of ways but also of a much deeper malaise within the establishment he occupies and equally one within the viewers he often speaks to. Far greater directors than Ratnam have been booed by audiences and mauled by critics. The films still survive, the audiences have expired, the critics have entered the dustbins of history.

    Most people watching a film don’t like it. Nor do most of the critics. In India this problem gets particularly thorny because most critics have simply no real qualification in any sense to write what they do on countless films. But even leaving this aside so what? If judgments in the present are all that count half the artworks in every art form would have vanished a long time ago! Opinion isn’t valuable based on the numbers or whether the person writing such a piece is with an overwhelming majority or a minority of one. What matters is the substance of what is being said. One can engage with it, argue with it, respond to it. Admittedly all of this is a bridge too far for the likes of Fadnavis. Specially so when it’s someone like Rangan on the other side. One learns (or one does not if one is Fadnavis) over time that serious opinion isn’t just about mouthing the latest American colloquialisms or being part of a colonized yet chauvinistic class for which Adoor Gopalakrishnan might as well be the name of a satellite.

    One cannot do anything about those who cannot or will not read as Derrida used to say. Except engage in the kind of violent response I have here though I fully realize that Fadnavis and his class are least bothered by all of this and will go about profiting from their bankruptcy as before. Once again this isn’t only about Fadnavis. It is about many many others. Too many really. The overwhelming majority in fact.

    I am all for iconoclasm. Anyone and anything can be questioned but there is an ethics of doing so.]


  20. But Sir, what about those good movies who gets WOM from Social Media. Recent Ex. – Kahaani, PST, VickyD.

    And if there is no social media then there will be always a phone, a sms, a group chat. According to me Its mostly good rather than bad, its a part of business.


  21. Hey – this is what I wrote about you on twitter – “Favoritism is ok but to write a book, write a defensive glowing ‘review’, then defensive piece, then a LONGER defensive piece is ridonkulous” – I usually don’t tag people as I do not have the balls.


  22. Kavitha : I have been to The Alamo and it really changes your entire movie going experience. As an added bonus you get people who really want to watch cinema rather than tweet, facebook or blog about it. I don;t understand why we can’t have something like this in India especially somewhere like Hyderabad or Chennai where movie-going is a regular habit.


  23. Ordinarily, I would have said that once an artiste any artiste gives up his/her work for public consumption they have to be prepared to deal with the bouquets and brickbats. But now that I have joined the ranks of those who kneel down humbly before the altar of public opinion, I find my stance changed somewhat.
    On the one hand I feel any kind of publicity – positive or negative is fine just so long as my baby gets noticed and not shoved into the depths of oblivion. But on the other hand if I were to get slammed by a super sarcastic critic or the smartasses who rule social media, I just may die of a broken heart. Have a confession to make, in the past guess I was one of the aforementioned smartasses but now that I have confessed to dishing it out I have to admit that I am not sure I can take it… So suddenly I find that I believe it is all about respecting an artiste :)


  24. hey man, enough of you trying to make a positive case for kadal. just because you wrote a book on mani saar doesn’t mean you are indebted to him for life. the movie was terrible, why not call a spade a spade?


  25. Satyam: Reading your comment, I was blissfully unaware of the content of the tweets, but then the poster himself left a comment below.

    How a review that grapples with a film’s themes, finds problems with song placements, finds issues with the way the battle for Thomas’s soul is realised, tries to figure out what the ellipses are about, offers so little direct endorsement (“rush to the theatre”)… how such a review can be called “glowing” is in itself a mystery to me.

    Secondly, this is a blog post, not a review for the newspaper. Should I be insulted that what i feel about a film on my own blog is supposed to represent my loss of integrity, or should I feel thrilled that even a blog post of mine is taken so seriously? I’m seriously confused.

    As for the rest of your post, thanks for the spirited defense.

    vijay: As I told gradwolf, the reason for this piece isn’t “Kadal.” It’s something that happened within the “Hindu” office that I can maybe tell you about over a beer, but not in public. And it has to do with a long timeframe.

    Gaurav: Of course, positive WOM helps. Did you read the full article? I said, “Like all technology, social media brings with it pros and cons. (And if you take away social media, then you’re missing out the lightning-fast ability to build good buzz as well, in case audiences like your film.)”

    This piece is about why nothing can be done about social media and why “by choosing a profession that thrusts you in the public eye, I guess [filmmakers are] fair game.”

    Do people just read one or two paras and then decide what the rest of the article is about?


  26. //Do people just read one or two paras and then decide what the rest of the article is about?

    Yeah this happens with most of the people..I myself have done it..


  27. Krishnan: Then you just “presume” what the rest of the piece is about? OMG! And here I am telling my Sunday feature writers to take their time to get to the main point of the piece, and open with lots of mood and colour instead :-)

    Satyam: Can you please not copy/paste more actual tweets? I appreciate your intentions, but would rather not know. Thanks.


  28. Baradwaj, hey just because it’s your blog doesn’t mean you have the right to say whatever you like!

    Qalandar elsewhere responded to the same issue with a great comment:

    [Perhaps Mihir Fadnavis needs a disclaimer? i.e. that ever since Rangan won the National Award, the knives are out?

    I have never come across such bankruptcy, namely that a chap has to be apologetic or defensive about writing a book — that writing a book on someone, far from showing the depth of the author’s engagement with the material, “actually” is evidence of bias. It’s almost comical — or would be, if it weren’t incoherent and frankly, un-educated.

    By the way, the concept of “bias” and “favoritism” doesn’t make sense where critics are concerned: because CRITICS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE “BIASED” IN THIS WAY! The very essence of criticism is making and drawing distinctions, and talking about preferences. i.e. taken to their logical end, statements like Fadnavis’ would suggest that a critic who says “X is the best film of the year” is biased against all films that aren’t X; or that someone who writes a book on a subject is actually disqualified by virtue of his expertise (“hey, let’s not call the biographer of Gandhi for his opinion on Gandhi on a news show, he’s already shown what he’s about! Let’s get guys who know nothing about Gandhi!”). [Aside: I might add that no-one has suggested that Anupama Chopra, a self-confessed SRK fan and author of a book on him, should be disqualified from anything, or that she should set out a disclaimer.]

    I should finally add here that there has always been a certain degree of animosity in the Bombay media with respect to Ratnam. A certain anxiety or insecurity. RGV for the longest time was lionized by the Bombay media, Ratnam never was. Dil Se was ruthlessly taken apart, they were very harsh on Yuva, they were overall kind on Guru but kinder on the lead performance, and with Raavan they broke all records of negative hysteria. Now I have some theories about why they’ve never quite ‘liked’ Ratnam but the larger point is that it’s a bit hilarious to see the Bombay media otherwise celebrate an extraordinary degree of mediocrity in film after film or start speaking about the few worthwhile names that are around in such lofty terms that one would think it was Ray being discussed to then suddenly turn around and point all kinds of problems with every Ratnam films. Worse still is the complete lack of interest in his Tamil career and the completely nonchalant ways in which they nonetheless judge him based on just the Hindi work (though there are some who’ve seen Nayagan and expect to be awarded prizes for this).

    I bring all of this up because once again your Kadal review offends. Now I’m be willing to make a fair bet that Fadnavis hasn’t seen Kadal. It’s not playing anywhere with subtitles anywhere in Bombay. They advertised it this way everywhere but there actually weren’t any (a whole other colossal problem but that’s another story!). So I know some people who showed up, paid for the tickets and were obviously disappointed. Perhaps Fadnavis was one of them and this then explains his ire! But more seriously few would be willing to show up for a Tamil film without subs. In all probability then Fadnavis has followed the very negative reception on the film and decided that this was another Raavan deal and hence safe to diss! Or perhaps it is simply that he did see the movie but it wasn’t quite ” like having sex” for him which was his comment for his Gangs of Wasseypur viewing experience. Sometimes I long for the Anniyan guy in real life with bulls et al exacting a certain revenge on certain critics!


  29. Satyam: BTW, what “disclaimer” is this? That I wrote a book on the guy? But that’s there in the review, no? I reference the book’s name and also say something like “this could be a future question for the book.” I thought that served as a disclaimer plus made the review sound like it picked up where the book left off.

    So I guess I thought wrong? :-)


  30. Baradwaj, apologize for the extra tweets. Was just trying to complete the ‘historical’ record of what was actually said in this case. But do remove these by all means.

    On the rest in this topsy-turvy view of things the person who actually makes an effort ot delve deep into a chosen subject must actually be apologetic for doing so! I guess Fellini scholars can now all be dismissed for being as it were ‘party hacks’! You couldn’t make this stuff up!

    In different contexts elsewhere I often get involved in similar arguments. The hardest thing in this sense is to convince people that one is not somehow obsessively guarding the reputation of a director or an actor (or whoever) from all critical questioning. So there is no over-zealous ‘idolization’ in any way. But the discussion has to be sane. What is hard to explain, at least without sounding politically incorrect or totally condescending, is that democracy cannot be confused for sane opinion. We don’t all have to become scholars on everything we talk about. We are perfectly entitled to have impressionistic opinions (or less) on all sorts of things. But to go further than this a certain deeper engagement is called for. And so back to your book. First off it’s a series of very interesting exchanges but to truly get enough out of it one should be reasonably familiar with Ratnam’s entire oeuvre. This can be assumed for a Tamil audience but regrettably not for a Hindi one (though one could still very easily dip into the chapters dealing with his Hindi works).

    Finally there are no ‘ultimate’ opinions on anything. And once again it’s very hard to argue with hallowed films or alternatively argue for totally dismissed ones. For instance over time I’ve had a number of people tell me they couldn’t believe you liked JBJ! There are very many other examples like this one. So even though you explain why you do in your piece it is as if people are not reading at all. But which also reminds me of a certain theoretical position — language is not really a means of communication in the naive sense that is often given to this idea. People who share a language can of course communicate at a functional level but to get beyond this they have to share a larger set of ‘rules’ or be willing to subscribe to similar notions of ‘meaning’ and so forth. So the people who have these very fundamental problems with many of your pieces aren’t just partisans. They are simply unable to follow the ‘language’. Telling people (as I being a sucker for punishment often do) that a Ratnam film being rejected by the audience and the critics doesn’t mean anything for the actual value of the work given that the very same once happened with Godard’s Contempt and countless other works now considered permanent parts of the film canon is an example that doesn’t quite have the obvious force it might seem to. Because if one doesn’t operate with a frame of reference this example loses its ‘meaning’.

    Jonathan Rosenbaum has very little interest in Kurosawa’s iconic works. He’s always argued against some of these very legendary films and has instead preferred some of the director’s very late, and what most would consider minor, works. As a huge Kurosawa fan I always find this a bit painful coming from a critic I absolutely adore. But I’d rather read him on Kurosawa than many admiring critics. Because I just learn a great deal from him in every sense. When the discussion is truly enriching agreement or disagreement seem beside the point.


  31. Just check the tweets of guys like Mihir Fadnavis or Somen Mishra (@cilemasnob) when Raavan released. They were not just criticizing the film but finding immense glee in lynching the lead star Abhishek Bachchan and bringing down Mani Sir. Somen who admitted he slept through half the film had no right to criticize the film. Was that fair? You eat an apple in the interval then you sleep half through and call the film all kind of names? Criticizing is one thing and constantly RTing on tweeter every single comment or review against the film is another. This is when their masks come off and real faces get exposed.

    Now again Somen aka @cilemasnob has not seen Kadal but is finding it fair to criticize anything or anyone defending the film! Double standards! Its not unfair when they are close with a Dibakar Bannerjee or Anurag Kashyap read their full scripts before the movie release and write glorifying posts on the same on their owned blogs?


  32. `This piece is about why nothing can be done about social media and why “by choosing a profession that thrusts you in the public eye, I guess [filmmakers are] fair game.”’
    Not just that. This piece is more a plea to all the tweeters out there to “perhaps temper the sarcasm in these opinions, and maybe use their creativity somewhere else instead of coming up with witty putdowns of the film” and perhaps “be nicer”. And, you also compare the bad buzz generated by tweeting to “sweat on skin”.

    A week ago, you did desire to live in a land where “you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil”. Looks like your dream did come true after all ;-)


  33. very interesting discussion…. I’m just a fan of good cinema.. I have nothing to do with the media or any filmmaker… your point on Bombay pple was ridiculous.. we all derided Raavan because..face it.. it was pathetic!! In Bombay too we love Mani Ratnam.. in fact which city you come from hardly matters.. talking about cilemaslob and fadnavis,.. I follow them on twitter so I know their opinions .. well they could be close to kashyap.. but do make a point to read their reviews of That Girl in Yellow Boots.. remember reading cilemaslob’s blog in which he has criticised Kashyap for disappointing his fans… all in public domain. same with fadnavis. people expect a LOT from Mani Ratnam.. the people who lambasted him after watching Raavan were the same people who talked about his brilliance just after they watched AB Jr kicking that stone into the valley.. so chuck all the prejudices… Rangan is one of the best critics/essayists in the country.. but here he got it wrong.. and I hope Mani saar bounces back…


  34. @Salil Palkar Okay so you are mihir fadnavis with a fake id here? You could have atleast shown some balls and written under your own name instead of writing crap about this piece on twitter? You guys cannot accept your criticism can you?
    TGIYB cannot be compared to a criticism of Raavan. Don’t wanna go in nitty gritties. And you missed my point I wasn’t talking about criticising of that film per se but the lynch mob attitude and full night lynching done of the maker and abhishek bachchan that night post press show and on day of release.


  35. I would like to believe that this post is about me and my disliking Kadal. Your knowledge of my existence makes me feel important. Can you please please please confirm? ahahaha


  36. @Mihir Fadnavis – I do not understand what the fuss is about. When Agent Vinod was dissed, I went all out to identify reasons why it turned out the way it did. I wrote multiple blatantly biased posts trying to veer the blame off Sriram. I blamed everyone except Sriram Raghavan who was the real culprit. Could not explicitly blame him due to my close friendship with him. Likewise with Matru – when the whole world dissed the film, I came out ballistic against all of them. Due to my bias for Vishal. Of course, my bias was the reason. These things are okay and we should not make a big issue out of it. Atleast don’t be hypocritical in open – you can be in the background. Like I try to be.


  37. The key point many are still missing here is that whether it’s Raavan or Kadal or whatever — there are no facts. So this idea that a film is ‘self-evidently’ poor and therefore anyone arguing for the opposite position is doing something ridiculous has it exactly the other way round. It is preposterous to suggest that in the instant present of a film’s release all final judgment’s about the film’s worth can be made. Whether majorities are against the film or not in that same instant present scarcely matters. Today Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker is considered a ‘great’ film. On release it was a massive flop and also did not receive kind critical attention. In reruns it has been one of the most successful RK banner films. Moreso than most of their hits.

    The position that once a film has been dismissed by both critics and audiences it ought not to be ‘supported’ by anyone is the radical view here. And the question that should be posed to all those who argue for such self-evident perspectives in these matters is: what are you afraid of? If Baradwaj Rangan writes a piece on Kadal where he offers insights into why he likes the film why does this offend anyone? No one has to agree with him. No one has to even read a word. But why is there this ‘totalitarian’ impulse whereby the minority view cannot even be enunciated?!

    All of this doesn’t mean that ‘anything goes’. If someone wishes to argue for the important of the average Vijay film I would have the gravest doubts about such an enterprise! Nonetheless I still wouldn’t have any problem with the expression of the same. And here as an aside it should be said that sometimes even otherwise less-serious or uninteresting films can lend themselves to a certain kind of cultural criticism or become symptoms of a larger cultural truth. So a junk Hollywood thriller with nothing to recommend it might illustrate something about its society and its audience without thereby itself becoming something worthwhile.

    I should finally add this. Whether it’s Raavan or now Kadal it is true that the majority of reviews were critical or even downright negative. But nonetheless there were some in the minority that were very positive on the film. So it’s important not to convert a majority, even a large one, into something ‘total’. Of course the sheer numbers never persuade me one way or the other. Within the Indian context and to be brutally honest I think Baradwaj is not just the best but the ‘only’ critic. Mean this completely sincerely. The rest are either unqualified disasters or at best a case of good intentions not backed up by enough thought or even basic understanding. Once more if we relied only on majorities we would be left with, and just within the cinematic field, probably half the films that we now lionize. Those too were once dismissed and often ruthlessly so by both critics and audiences.

    Let the discussion remain as open as possible.. why does any position have to be foreclosed?


  38. The worst of movie distractions for me has got to be dull thump you suddenly feel in your chair when the person sitting behind you decides to stretch his legs. Then he does it again, and you have to deal with the anxiety of letting him know whilst trying to make sure you are polite at the same time.

    A movie becomes a hit when the person watching it thinks the guy next to him is enjoying the movie as much as or more than he is. The lethal thing about popular opinion is that it is most or less a unanimous decision. No one wants to be the guy in a group of friends who likes the movie when the others don’t. And, vice versa. Otherwise, he will be taunted or sometimes bullied. In the social network, where Likes and Retweets are the ultimate form of recognition, no one wants to be an outcast and every one gladly conforms to the popular opinion.


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