Saturday, 10 August 2013

Why Indian movie critics get it so wrong

Seeing a spate of movie reviews over the last month, I wondered why so many of the Bollywood movie reviews are at complete variance with what was found when one finally watched it. Typically flop, snooze-fests  get 4 star ratings  and inspirational superhits like " Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" get 2-3 star ratings
So here goes the top reasons why Indian movie critics get it so wrong:

1)      Critics are unable to measure against similar genres
A masala movie like “Chennai Express”, which has smashed box office records, is given the same contemptuous review as “Himmatwala” , which bombed badly. And not a single critic has the sensibility or analytical power to even wonder why one potboiler should be so successful while the other similar genre film flopped. Because hey, “it’s a masala film and my little circle of nerdy movie geeks will think I’m a sell-out if I say I like them”

2)      Critics live in cultural ghettos and have no clue who the target audience of a film is:
The reality is that most of the critics are fans of Satyajit Ray and Mani Ratnam. So anything catering to the typical “Hindi” audiences has to be frivolous. The sneery,patronising undertone is evident in their reviews and the standard defence is “We critique a movie, we don’t consider trade figures”. Yeah sure, but your critique has no meaning when the message is lost.

3)      Critics get personal:
You have them saying that “This actor is desperate , over the hill” etc. which has nothing to do with the film . So now, let’s see if critics can take the personal attacks as well. Anybody in journalism will tell you that film critics are usually at the bottom of the pecking order in a journalistic sense. Almost none are qualified movie critics and are just avid movie watchers of world cinema. During the job interview they reel off names like Bergman and Francois Truffaut and the poor editors give them the job as they really need to focus on more serious matters. And thereafter, it’s these sods who review Bollywood!!

4)      Critics fall in love with a headline and then write the review to match it:
It’s like making a coffin and then trying to find a body to fit in it. So if a critic’s clever headline is “Chennai Express is Rukh-Rukh” , then it means the review needs to say that the movie falters to a stop , otherwise it would be a waste of a smart headline, wouldn't it?

5)      Critics are overawed by personas:  
So you can be sure that any film produced by Anurag Kashyap or endorsed by Kiran Rao will get a thumbs up. After all these people condemn those silly Bollywood films, so they must be ree-aaal intelligent and know what they are talking about. Never mind that the critic was the only person awake, while audiences slept.
P.S : I need to add here,that 'Madras Cafe'released just two weeks after 'Chennai Express". NOT surprisingly the same critics who had a problem with the stereotypical "dark, menacing southies"in Chennai Express, had no problem with the same in 'Madras Cafe'. After all Shoojit Sircar is a "thinking" director, while that Rohit Shetty should have shown lily-white goondas. Point proven.

6)      Critics don’t see the movie with the paying public:
 Since they get tickets as freebies these critics never watch the movie with the audience that it is meant for. Which means they have no hope in hell of knowing whether the film has achieved what it set out to do. So do pay next time. Rs. 200 is a small price to get some credibility.  

Imagine how utterly frustrating it is for them to think they are changing the way people view cinema and then to their chagrin “Ek Tha Tiger’and “Chennai Express” go full steam ahead , embraced by the very people who read their columns!

The paying public rules !!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Priyanka Chopra’s 10 PR tricks that backfired

We all know that Priyanka Chopra, popularly known as PC , has tried every trick in the book to stay in the news, despite average box office performance. Most of her recent hit movies have run on the name of the male superstar. So no surprise she has gone into a PR overdrive to remain relevant .  Unfortunately these PR efforts have consistently boomeranged on her. Let’s go back to the past year (it’ll be too exhausting to talk about the PR disasters of the last one decade she’s been around)
1)      The snide salvo at K.Jo : This one was the biggest PR boomerang of 2012. After using her PR machinery to “anonymously’ run-down star wives, she went one step ahead and back-stabbed K.Jo who gave her two of her biggest hits Dostana and Agneepath. Karan Johar was smart enough to see through it and retaliated, something Ms. Chopra would’nt  have expected. Sure enough, the two kissed and made up, but only after K.Jo had made his point. Forget any sympathy for Priyanka, we don’t expect to see PC anytime soon in any Dharma production.
2)      Earning WHAT ?? To prove she was on par with reigning queen Kareena Kapoor, she set about the rumour that she was earning as much as Ram Charan Teja for Zanjeer . However as clarified later by his team, he’s earning Rs.12 crore, while Priyanka is receiving Rs.5.5 cr.  Oops, how embarrassing for the poor girl!
3)      Musical oversell: Everyone knows that her much touted single “In my City” sank without a trace and was contemptuously dismissed by critics as a Rihanna wannabe song. That did’nt stop her PR going into overdrive stating that the single went “triple platinum”. Queries about the criteria of triple platinum went unanswered.
4)      Twitter and PC: Have you noticed how some of the least popular actors have the largest number of followers? I mean if these THREE MILLION plus followers of PC actually went out and saw her movies, every one of her films would be “triple platinum” (Snigger). Anybody in the know can tell you that shrewd digital marketing gets you meaningless followers.
5)      Barfi leaves a sour taste: Yes, we all heard about how hard poor PC prepared for the role of the autistic girl in Barfi. Unfortunately critics were unimpressed with her exaggerated mannerisms. Not only did she fail to win any of the popular awards, but also could not get a mention at the respected National Awards. What must have been more galling for PC was that her one-film old kid sister Parineeti Chopra  got a special national award the same year for her FIRST lead role in Ishaqzaade!! Tsk tsk
6)      Those carefully manipulated photo-ops of PC arriving at the airport: The press is tipped off,“PC is arriving”. And out she comes after an 18 hour flight looking ready for a cover shoot! Unfortunately for her, people prefer commenting on her various cosmetic procedures instead, earning her the nickname plastic PC. See images below if you don't believe me from
7)      SRK : Yes, no discussion is complete without mentioning her well-publicised “romance” with the man himself. There is no way this could have been exposed unless somebody wanted it to be. Sample this:  Suggestively retweeting this lovey-dovey message from “My Shah Rukh Khan”, a fan of the REAL SRK : “Every once in a while, someone comes into your life and you wonder how you ever lived without them :)” . On the face of it it seems that its from SRK, until closer examination shows its a message from a fan of  SRK. So the question is, why is PC retweeting it unless she wants to create a controversy and hence publicity for herself?  Unfortunately this little ploy did not trend and was’nt noticed.

8)      The Marriage proposal from SRK : She gave sound bytes on how SRK had proposed to her during the Q&A of Miss India , when she was a contestant. Shrewdly, she thought this would send people into overdrive with SRK’s “proposal” grabbing headlines. Again, except for a few trashy entertainment channels, this news was largely treated as another ho-hum, desperate publicity manoeuvre.

9)      Priyanka and her favoured websites:  What is it about certain sites which manage to get “exclusives” about PC , whether its leaving SRK’s office at 3 a.m.  Or writing completely unsubstantiated stories about her marrying Baadshah Khan? Perhaps PC has some friends there? Unfortunately for her, the story was trashed as a “figment of an overactive imagination”.

10)   The latest- PC as a “voice” in the animation film Planes: Yes we all heard from “sources” how Siddharth Roy Kapur of UTV had recommended her name over that of his wife Vidya Balan . Until Mr.Kapur , in an interview to respected weekly Screen , categorically refuted it. So a few days later the story was changed, and now the recommendation comes from director of Planes, Klay Hall . Wonder how long this story will hold now!

Keep a look out for more of PC’s pathetic little games in 2013!!

11) Yes I know I said 10 failed PR ticks but here's the 11th ! They just keep coming! Priyanka now dropped from coffee ad after she broke up with Shahid Kapoor (another relationship leveraged for gains)