Going by the review, is Ajith’s film better than Rajinikanth’s?

Posted on January 17, 2019

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/baradwaj-rangan-column-rajini-ajith-going-by-the-review-is-ajiths-film-better-than-rajinikanths/

There are 5000 articles out there about how star ratings work, but given the commotion over ‘Petta’ and ‘Viswasam’, clearly there’s the need for a 5001st.

How do star ratings work? I gave Petta 2.5 stars and Viswasam 3 stars – so does this mean Viswasam is a better film than Petta? No. Firstly, you cannot even compare the two genres, just because these films are in Tamil and happen to feature two huge stars. You cannot compare The Sound of Music with 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s apples and oranges. Even within the same genre, you cannot compare, say, The Sound of Music with Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Yes, they’re both musicals. Yes, both narratives are woven around a female character. But one’s uplifting and mainstream, the other one’s downbeat and arty – they’re just not from the same universe. You can only compare films that exist in the same universe.

So what the star rating means is this (and if you’ve read and agreed with the other 5000 articles, you can stop reading now, for there’s very little you won’t know): a film’s rating is about how, in the critic’s opinion, the film achieved what it set out to do, what it was trying to be.

Had Petta achieved everything it set out to do, I’d have given it 4 stars. (I subscribe to the philosophy that no film is perfect, and so the 5-star rating should not be given. It’s the Everest of ratings, an ideal to aspire for.)

Had Petta been ridiculously bad (or with very few redeeming factors), I’d have given it 1 star or 1.5 stars.

The film was in neither of these extremes, so now, I have to decide on a rating between 2 and 3.5 stars. (At this point, let me come out and say this, again. I don’t like to award stars. Like many critics, I do this only because my company asks me to.)

Continued at the link above.

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