You can do with criticism

Posted: November 5, 2013 by moifightclub in film, film review, movie reviews, Regional
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Nicolas Bourbaki is back. Because it’s call of duty. It’s the same old i-cant-take-criticism-fuck-you attitude. And this time it involved a Tamil film and a popular RJ who has been forced to quit his show. Bourbaki got all the details. Read on.


This Diwali, three Tamil films released.

The Ajith-Arya starrer Arrambam, directed by Vishnuvardhan, which opened to bad buzz and terrible word of mouth but the adrenaline quotient in the film and the combined mass fan following of Ajith and Arya ensured that the film took a great opening with the long weekend. It was heavily inspired from Swordfish with scenes liberally borrowed from Hollywood action flicks, including Mission Impossible 4, packaged smartly with the social revenge drama sentiments from Shankar and Rajnikant films.

The second film to hit screens was Karthi starrer All in All Azhaguraja, directed by Rajesh, who is very good with comedy. Produced and distributed by Studio Green (affiliated to actor Suriya’s family), one of the most powerful and influential banners down South today, Azhaguraja had everything going for it pre release. The director hasn’t failed ever and the promos assured a laugh riot. The film, however, opened to terrible buzz online and the deathly silence to jokes and walkouts in theatres forced the makers to edit out about half an hour from the 170 minute long film. Not that it helped.

The third film Suseendran’s Pandianadu was the dark horse, a make or break outing for actor Vishal who hasn’t had the best run at the box office. It opened to great buzz and positive reviews with most critics declaring it the clear winner among the three films.

That being the context, RJ Balaji, Chennai’s most irreverent reviewer known for his tongue in cheek quips on radio, tweeted on Monday night that his segment 120 (a review show where he told listeners if they should spend 120 rupees on the ticket, purely as a voice of the man on the street) would be no more. Here’s the series of tweets explaining his decision.

As many expressed their support to the reviewer, some of the stars on social networks used this opportunity to diss critics and criticism. While some were purely emotional (like Vasuki Bhaskar’s tweet)

and some out of friendship (@actorJiiva and director of Azhaguraja go back a long way), the unkindest cut was from Vishal, who shot himself in the foot and undid any goodwill he had earned from his Diwali release Pandianadu.

(Turns out that Balaji hadn’t even reviewed the film and Vishal was talking about his interaction with viewers who had seen the Diwali releases and the viewers had blasted the films. The third caller had criticised Balaji and he was gracious enough to take the call on air when he had a choice to not allow it. Balaji’s comment was that if a thousand people made a poison biscuit, will you attack the guy who told you it is a poison biscuit or the people who made it? Nothing even remotely personal or below the belt!)

God knows Vishal needs honest criticism the most to triumph at this hour!

If all critics were to say only good things about Arrambam and Azhaguraja out of consideration, to use Vasuki’s analogy, of the babies that were delivered, nobody would have even queued up for Pandianadu. Simply because there is no way people would go watch a third film during the Diwali weekend. Instead of being grateful to people for speaking their mind about what they liked and what they didn’t during the weekend, Vishal actually chose this weekend of all, to suck up to the most influential banner.

About 80 per cent of the films made are either flop or lose money. Not because of criticism but because the makers made a bad film. Singham 2 is one of the highest grossing film down South in recent times despite terrible reviews. Because people liked it even if critics didn’t. People are not always right in recognising good cinema which is why we need critics sometimes to point them in the right direction. We need someone to be the bad guy and say the truth out aloud that this film stinks, go watch the other one.

Because filmmakers don’t offer refunds.

It is extremely juvenile and downright stupid to lash out against critics in times of social media because today, the common man is a critic. One smart tweet summing up a film can get retweeted more times than any review. When everyone is a critic, mass opinion infiltrates the aggregate of tweets and buzz on the film. Which is even more reason you need honest and brave criticism to prevail.

In a world without dissent, the powerful will rule and underdogs will die. Do you want your cinema to be controlled in the hands of a few? Critics are not your enemies, they are your friends.

The real enemies are within your system. The stars who charge salaries that make your project unviable. The marketing spends you invest to beat the competition that puts you at greater risk. The lack of effort in writing or picking the good scripts. The money spent on foreign trips, lavish sets for dance numbers, business class tickets, five star hotels, success parties, audio launches and invites, buying your own tickets to keep the halls housefull… These are the things you can do without.

Criticism, you can do with.

(PS – Bourbaki just got to know that it was scary scenario for the RJ. Got threats too. The way it happens in those bad zimbly zouth films. Only difference is in real life they are scary. So he has decided to opt for something non-filmy now)

(PS1 – More discussion on the controversy is going on here : ,  & ) Also, another post on the same issue is here.

(PS2 – If you have problem with Bourbaki, his Godfather Banksy got an answer for you here.)

  1. Sad state of affairs!!
    But what kind of attitude is this – “People are not always right in recognising good cinema which is why we need critics sometimes to point them in the right direction”.. Film criticism should be treated as just another opinion instead of some kind of guiding light.. Critics need to grow up too

  2. Red says:

    “People are not always right in recognising good cinema which is why we need critics sometimes to point them in the right direction.”

    I write film reviews and I still disagree with this statement. Everyone has the right to define what they consider “good cinema”, because at the end of the day, they’re the ones paying to watch movies. My review = my opinion and I’ve never felt like my view is more valuable than anyone else’s. And I definitely don’t think it’s my job to point anyone in the right direction. My job is to tell you what I personally thought about the movie, nothing more, nothing less.

    Having said that, this is a really sad situation. I haven’t heard what RJ Balaji said, and if he was too personal then he should be called out for it. However, if it’s just a case of sour grapes on the team’s part, then they should absolutely be ashamed. Everyone has a right to say what they feel, especially when it comes to something that is up for public consumption. Being gracious even if you’re upset goes a long way.

    Thanks for bringing this situation to our attention.

  3. paranthaman says:

    If its ok to tell the truth about me then i have something to tell rj balaji sorry ass hole balaji he looks like a monkey. In the movie tvsk his comedy scenes were terrible. If he is so so good n review what the fuck he did n tvsk like doing comedy. I felt irritating to see him on screen. Any comments rj balaji. Sootha mooditu rj velaiya paru da badu. Periya pool mari pesna ipdi thaan agum.

  4. i’d like to cite an example.. two movies, both made with lesser known actors.. both were released on same date.. both were from different genres and both became blockbusters in their own accord.. when did this happen.. on 23rd February 2007.. the aforementioned movies ‘Paruthi Veeran’ and ‘Mozhi’.. people do accept good movies irrespective of star cast.. there are bouquets and brickbats for every film ever made.. the same reviewers who criticise movies like ‘AAA’ and Aarambam (i’ve seen neither of the films) couldn’t hear a bad word spoken against movies like, say ‘Thanga Meengal’ or ‘Onayum Attukuttiyum’.. it’s a sad thing which happened to RJ Balaji but a common viewer wants to forget all worries while watching a movie.. so what a film lover and fanatic expects from a movie is different from the expectations of a common man.. so don’t give me the argument that Reviewers are some kind of Messiah guiding the viewers to the path of enlightenment.. this is as arrogant as filmmakers lashing out at reviewers for giving terrible reviews of their movies..

    • K.T. says:

      Leave your worries behind? This is exactly why filmmakers continue to make pathetic movies and make profits, while those looking for quality cinema are left high and dry. Rathet than expecting film lovers to lower their standards, raise yours

  5. ” People are not always right in recognising good cinema which is why we need critics sometimes to point them in the right direction. We need someone to be the bad guy and say the truth out aloud that this film stinks, go watch the other one” … This is exactly what i have a problem with … who are you to decide what is good or bad ??? You liked a film , someone else didnt … and therefore its a good film just because you have seen and can quote big world cinema names whereas the other person didnt ? A review is a personal viewpoint and i believe that reviews should only state why the reviewer liked the film or did not like it. Instead of categorising it as good or bad and going further by telling readers to avoid a movie !!! Why ??? Why assume the role of guardian of good cinema ? Or the role of saviour of people s money by advising them which movie to spend their money on ?
    If you were a shopkeeper , and one person stood in front of your shop and kept shouting at any passer by , that this was a terrible shop and noone should go there , would you simply let that man keep doing what he is ?
    Even i used to write reviews on mail for a school group of mine … and used to make similar statements like you guys should stay away from this film … till it dawned on me that what i felt was good may not be a gold standard …
    Film like any other art form gets biased in viewing … and i do not mean a deliberate bias like favourite stars … there could a single shot which reminds me of a very dear personal experience of mine and for that reason , i may like the film … someone else may not realise that and think that the film sucks … since you have eberts photo on the top … it reminded me of tree of life … ebert praised it to the stars … for me it was one of the most boring films EVER … but if you read his review , there is a part which talks about the personal aspect of the movie in terms of ebert’s childhood and the associations he has with the strict father or the nameless mother … which i felt were his explanation on why he loved the film so much (among other things) and it reveals his bias … but so be it … atleast he was honest enough to state that …
    Almost the entire audience with whom i watched Lootera , hated the film … they were jeering . clapping , whistling … and this is in E Square in Pune which has a pretty decent crowd of students and families .. I loved the film … all the more because the 1st half of the movie is set in a place which reminded me of my nani ghar so much … but would it fair on my part to go out and state that its an awesome movie and everyone should watch it as its great cinema and since i am an authority on great cinema ? Stating that i loved it and why i loved it is the best i should do !!!

    And let me conclude with the most recent example … I thought Krish 3 was hilariously bad … infact i switched off in the scene where he is flying with the aircraft’s front tyres … it was sheer torture for me … but as i exit the movie … my 5 year old son tells me that he loved it and wants to watch it again … infact my wife told me that in the scene where Kaal almost kills Krish , my son was crying … and since he is 5 years old , i could still ignore his opinion … but my wife , who has seen almost every movie that i have , is from the same school as i am , comes from a family which is similar economically but more evolved culturally, is from the same city and community that i am from , also states that she loved Krish 3 … who the f am i to decide whether others should watch the film or not ???

    • abhishek says:

      very well said man. A lot of people here dont understand this and i hope they get what you are saying

    • Karthik says:

      Why see every opinion or review as ‘deciding what others should watch or not’? Why not simply see it as one person’s point of view? If you are sharing reviews in a group, why assume that the group members will make their decisions based on your individual opinion? If they trust one person’s views so much, then you’ve perhaps earned it!

      Are we all so immature that we see every single review or opinion as an individual decision influencer? Collectively, they could help us decide, of course.

  6. rajlal chaubey says:

    critics review films,its their proffession,they are entitled to their opininon but in a review there should not be any personal attack on anyone. Today most of the time when a critic(most of these guyz are wannabe directors) finds a movie bad instead of explaning what had gone wrong,why it didn’t work for him they go on making fun of the film ,showing attitudes like they have done society a favour by watching it and reviewing it.The should only be objective in their review rather than trying to make final judgement of the film cause that job belongs to general audiences.

  7. […] December 14, 2013 by moifightclub in cinema 0 Nicholas Bourbaki is back, writing on the “definitive cult film” Satya 2. He seems to be asking […]

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