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