Filmmaker Hansal Mehta has a rather scathing take on film critics in his post at Passion For Cinema.

His view of a filmmaker:

You are a film-maker.

You know that films are expensive to make. You believe that films consume you totally. You let films rule (sometimes ruin) your private lives. You remind yourself that films are your calling. You assume that you are the captain of the ship, the master of your tale. You live under the illusion that your films will make you immortal. You live films. You dream films. You love films. You make films.

Endless hours of toiling with writers. Boundless cups of tea. Useless drags of nicotine. Limitless patience with producers. Tireless indulgence with actors. Relentless arguments with technicians. Thankless hours spent preparing. Countless hours spent shooting. Seamless patience during the edit. Sleepless nights at re-recording.

Nervous at the dailies. Nervous at the cut. Nervous at the previews. Nervous at the premier. Nervous at the release. Nervous after the release.

Passionate. Insecure. Traded. Judged.

Unfortunately…

You are a film-maker.

Then, film critic:

You are a film-critic.

You understand English. You have been taught to write in English. You got a high ranking for your essay titled ‘My Mother’. You watched films. You always wanted to make films. You never understood films. You needed to get a job before you got to make films. You got a job to write about films. You got stuck to the job. You saw your dreams disappearing. You still watched films. You still understood English. You still write in English. You now get to rank as part of your essays. You are not evaluated. You evaluate films. You still do not understand films.

Deluded. Abrasive. Disrespectful. Callous. Manipulative. Selective. Biased.

Filling up columns with twisted words. Filling up paragraphs with biased opinion. Filling up reviews with ignorant language.

Living each week. Killing each film. Cheating each reader.

Sad to say…

You are a film-critic.

The generalization makes much of his post incorrect. But let’s say, for a moment, that his take is true of all critics. In that case, I’d argue that the quality of film critics is dependent on the quality of films. Imagine a critic like Taran Adarsh in an industry that churns out movies like Memento. He’d either resign, if he is honest, or up his game. The converse is not true. Given the dynamics of film distribution, a critic’s negative review causes minimal financial impact. And unless economics is involved, a filmmaker doesn’t have any incentive to improve.

I do think India does not have any good film critics, and that’s a bad thing. Most bloggers and critics are keen to review a movie as pass or fail — not too different from how our education system works. That includes me. In my defense, I’m not a critic or a reviewer. I merely write my thoughts on movies. A film critic’s job is to take us through the experience. Not many critics do that today.

***

One of the better film writers is Jai Arjun Singh. His writes here. Read a couple of posts, and you’ll realize what is missing in film critics.

Advertisements