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Oct 23, 2011 at 05:59pm IST

Do film critics need a balanced approach?

New Delhi: Recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival had seen heated discussions over a variety of subjects from bad screenwriting to the role of cinema in nation building.

One such debate was about the role of film critics. The director of ‘Bheja Fry’ and ‘Bheja Fry 2’, Sagar Ballary was not happy with the way film critics rejected his latest film ‘Hum Tum Shabana’.

He was of the opinion that the critics too should have a kind of formal training before writing or giving a review. Ballary also expressed doubts about the producer-critic nexus and raised questions about the involvement of money in the whole business.

Do film critics need a balanced approach?

Can a bad review affect the film? It may if the film does not boast of big and established actors.

Basically he was speaking on behalf of every filmmaker whose film is trashed by the critics. Noted critics present at the venue vehemently opposed Ballary but this outburst raises some questions.

Can a bad review affect the film?

It may if the film does not boast of big and established actors. ‘Bodyguard’ got average reviews but the film went on to create history at the box office.

‘Aazaan’ also did acceptable business without excellent reviews. Big stars have dedicated fan base and unless and until they come up with mega budget film like ‘RA.One’, nothing much is on stake for them.

Further the filmmakers have started to target only the urban audiences as they have better purchasing capacity. This audience base considers films as their weekend business and does not seem to care much about the reviews if several hyped films are not releasing simultaneously.

Bad reviews are definitely a problem for films which rely on word of mouth publicity but the reviewers need to inform the movie goers about the product.

How balanced is the review will still be the question. The audience in this internet age is not easy to manipulate. They will consult two-three reviews before making a choice and if any reviewer is playing a spoilsport then he or she will be picked sooner or later. There are critics who have completely lost their charm once their reality got exposed.

The qualification of the critic was also questioned and it was said that the critic should possess at least basic knowledge of filmmaking.

This is necessary simply because films are something more than just emotional roaster coaster ride. A trained eye can catch the technical glitches easily.

One can argue that if the common audience does not understand the mistakes then why the reviewer should make him understand that fault forcibly.

It’s similar to buying a mobile phone. You won’t understand the technical difficulties unless an expert tells you about it. But, a critic would posses such quality only after combining a basic training with first-rate knowledge of contemporary socio-political situation.

Judging simply on the base of content has the potential of confusing the readers or viewers. How can someone describe a film like ‘Memento’, ‘The Prestige’, ‘Inception’, ‘American History X’, ‘Fightclub’, ‘Pakeezah’, ‘Dev D’, ‘LSD’ or ‘Aamir’ in absence of the knowledge of editing, camera work and sound recording. A just content oriented critic will probably not enjoy the opening sequence of ‘Casino Royale’ after a certain point.

Content is definitely the backbone of any film and a critic should have command over it but a little awareness about the technique will help the audiences in taking a decision.

Lashing the critics won’t help the directors either because films will ultimately do well or bad due to their content only. Even a reviewer with dark motives will have to think twice before being judgemental and taking a harsh step as his own prestige will also be on stake.

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