Sudhish Kamath: Why a filmmaker and a critic can’t be friends

How can you rate Pyaar Ka Punchnama 9/10, a journalist asked me point blank when I was temporarily on the other side of the fence, facing interviews during the release of my film. Now, a rating never is any indication of how good a film is. It is only an indication of how much the person rating it likes it. And that’s the only truth. And no matter what you do, you cannot contest or argue with that truth – that I liked a film or didn’t like a film. What you can argue with are the reasons why I liked it or why I didn’t. And those are the discussions I love. The day before Good Night Good Morning released, SRK fans trolled our IMDB page to teach us critics a lesson. I review for The Hindu and the much-hated Raja Sen from Rediff plays a supporting role in the film. How dare we write negative reviews on Don 2? SRK fans ran a campaign on Twitter calling other fans to rate GNGM 1/10 since there’s no 0/10 option. I would be lying if I said it didn’t matter at all. IBNLive Of course it matters. Because unlike a review that’s one person’s opinion, an IMDB rating was some sort of a barometer of how many people liked it and how many didn’t. And being a niche film without stars, we were catering to a film literate audience that was IMDB-savvy and that rating really seemed to matter. We created about 20 fake accounts to counter the 28 1/10 votes and posted reviews (real ones done by others) under our own accounts crediting the real author at the end of the post of course. To our disappointment, it didn’t work. The rating remained unchanged. Because IMDB uses some weighted average system that is a well kept secret to stop people from manipulating the ratings. We asked friends to bail us out by voting. That didn’t help much either because the trolls kept doing the same. And so it happened. We started off with our 3.4/10 rating, the worst thing that we could’ve asked for. But thankfully for us, reviewers seemed to like our film a lot more. And more than the critics, the people who watched it became the film’s ambassadors. We got over 50 positive reviews with a minimum rating of 3 stars and over 500 tweets and an equal number on FB through comments and status updates within a week for a film that barely 1500 people watched in the theatres before Agneepath kicked us out of the theatres on Day 7. My friend Raja Sen wrote a column on Mumbai Mirror inviting people to bring out their claws. We had prepared ourselves for the worst. Considering how much we give out, we really wanted to see how much we could take ourselves. Luckily, we didn’t have to take much. Yes there were a few friends who hated it and chose to keep their opinions to themselves (something we always get to hear about through DMs because Twitter makes the world a smaller place!) but that is a part of the game. You can never please everyone. We got lucky that many people liked our film. Our IMDB rating shot up to 7.6/10 with over 200 votes (Of course, that is perhaps a little too much for our little film, I agree and so no complaints that it is now much less). Within a month of the release of the DVD, we became the film that sold more DVDs than any Shah Rukh or Salman film last year on Flipkart (climbing up to No.5 on Flipkart’s all time best seller list – only behind Rockstar, The Dirty Picture DVD, The Dirty Picture VCD and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. That there was our big “Fuck You” to all those trolls who did stuff out of pure malice, without even watching the film. As you can guess by my tone, obviously I hate those pests. To most filmmakers, every critic who gives a bad review is one such pest. They hate them from the bottom of their bottom. The smart ones just know to conceal it better. And the not-so-smart ones like Samir Karnik shoot their mouth off and provide us the laughs. Being a critic, I do know that a review is one person’s opinion… But when there are more people who share that same opinion, it is perceived as a larger truth by the average reader/browser and read as an evaluation of the quality of the film, pretty much like the IMDB rating. You know when a film gets 1 star or 1 and a half stars from every other critic in town must be quite bad. You know a film that gets 3 stars or above from every other critic must be quite decent. That’s also how I believe that I have made a decent film – by looking at the aggregate of the reviews and the arguments made against it and not just individual opinion – because honestly, there’s no way I can judge my own film till the time I have had the benefit of time and distance. I can’t watch my first film again. I hate it. I removed all evidence of its existence. Now, I remember getting good and bad reviews for my first film. I remember linking both the good and the bad reviews on my blog back then. I was going to send one of them a ticket to my new film inviting him to rip it apart again when I heard he told a common friend how he ‘Pwned’ my first film (when I had sportingly linked to his negative review from my blog). So I changed my mind and didn’t send him that ticket. Why? Because we don’t like people who don’t like us. Simple. It’s always that way. There may be 200 people saying good things about your film but that one guy who hates it/disses it always gets your attention. You feel the need to react to that one guy instead of reveling in the glory of all the positivity. No filmmaker finds it in him to forgive the guy who has dismissed months of his hard work, blood and sweat. It’s only human. In fact, I respect the ones who have told me to my face that they can’t be friends with me. Like this popular actor down South: “For you, films maybe a part time hobby. For me, films are my life. If you don’t like my films, we can’t be friends.” That is the most honest statement I have ever heard from any person in the film industry. I respect the guy for that. I had given one of his weakest films a bad review and the producers sent us a legal notice threatening to sue me for 25 crore to compensate for the loss! I wish reviews had that kind of power. Bodyguard would have flopped given how it was ripped apart by critics almost unanimously. But the thing about conflict is that it suddenly puts the critic at a disadvantage. It’s a stalemate. If you say anything positive about his next film, you are a suck-up. If you say anything negative, you are nursing a grudge. I have lost many friends to this politics of reviewing. Having seen the ugly side, I can safely say that there are just a handful of filmmakers who I know who can truly take it like a man. I am not going to take names. But here’s a sample. One filmmaker stopped following me or responding to me and another critic after a bad review of his film last year. Another champion of independent cinema feigns friendship during the occasional run-ins but chose to maintain radio silence about my film when it could’ve really done with a little support during the month of release, especially after he claimed to like it. Of course, no one owes anyone anything. The only point here is that we are certainly NOT friends because we share that awkward critic-filmmaker relationship. A studio boss stopped following me on Twitter the day my Yearend list was out in papers minus his films. Another industry buddy who gave me gyaan on how cool he is with criticism told a fellow critic in a moment of weakness that we critics didn’t know shit and we should first go make a film to know what it’s like (More on this at the end of this post). He also later made sure he told me why he thought my film sucked and how he could write a better film. More recently, a filmmaker got largely good reviews, stopped entertaining calls from his former colleague and friend after she wrote a mildly negative counter-point. Another master filmmaker who made a bad film last year recently admitted to a friend how he wasn’t able to deal with the negative review no matter how hard he tried. “You should have told me first before writing it.” “But you didn’t have a problem when I wrote good stuff without telling you beforehand.” “Who complains about good stuff?” Again, this was an honest response from a guy who had stopped taking calls. Most filmmakers fake it. Like Harry told Sally that a boy and a girl can never be friends, a filmmaker and a critic can never be friends. Bad sex always gets in the way. “Boohoo! You screwed me.” There are always exceptions to the rule, of course and I am lucky to have such friends too… though one can never be sure these days ;) And as for that much used argument: “Go make a film and then criticise…” Here’s the thing, guys. That shows you don’t understand the medium enough. Filmmaking is a process of construction, putting it together block by block while film criticism is a process of deconstruction and taking it apart piece by piece. Blocks and pieces are like chalk and cheese sometimes because what you thought was chalk was probably cheese for the person consuming it. It’s like assembling an impossibly giant jigsaw puzzle of an image you have only inside your head against a deadline. Sometimes you don’t even have all the pieces, especially when you are an independent filmmaker. And once you have left the room with whatever you have assembled in the time and space you were given, a bunch of people walk in to make sense of what you’ve put together. They are able to spot some parts of it and don’t get some. It does not always reflect their inability to read, it sometimes reflects your inability to put it together. The truth is always somewhere between the two. As my friend Cilemasnob often says, “You don’t need to know how to cook to comment on the taste of food.” And during that week when I was briefly on the other side of the fence, almost every other journalist asked me if you need to be a filmmaker to be a critic or vice-versa. No way. They require slightly different skill-sets. That’s like saying “You should have experienced a heart attack at least once to be a good cardiologist”. Or to extrapolate that thought further, “You should have been a corpse once to be a sensitive undertaker.” P.S: “Even you can’t take criticism!” This is such a recursive loop, one that renders the entire exercise of arguing futile. When you make a counter argument to criticism, it is seen as a sign that you cannot take criticism simply because the guy criticising you cannot deal with the fact that he’s being criticised for his criticism. There’s no end to this, every criticism can be counter criticised and so on until… a. It reaches a “Let’s agree to disagree” stalemate b. You stop being friends c. You pretend you are friends but actually think the other is an asshole. Therefore, a critic and a filmmaker can never be friends. QED.

Sudhish Kamath is a film critic with The Hindu and a two-film old independent filmmaker.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/why-a-filmmaker-and-a-critic-cant-be-friends/239855-8-66.html

2 Comments

  1. suprabh
    suprabh
    November 3, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    Nice read…although a long one…. I’d give it a 6 on 10 only ;)

  2. FS
    FS
    November 3, 2012 at 5:38 AM

    First time reading an article without heavy usage of vocabulary. Looks like trying to connect with masses :P

Page 1 of 1

Post Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

generic 5mg levitra lisinopril 5 mg medication xenical 120 mg wirkstoff cialis 20 mg flashback cheaper than viagra celebrex 200 mg image synthroid .05 mg diflucan compresse 150 mg cialis 5mg testosterone viagra online history cialis 20 mg reviews taking 70 mg lisinopril levitra generico ultrafarma buy nolvadex xt kamagra viagra online buy hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg kamagra 50mg kaufen lexapro 5mg safe cialis 5mg generico lisinopril 2.5mg us buying viagra nyc 20 mg levitra prices doxycycline acne 200mg 250 mg doxycycline cialis professional 40mg buy amoxil 1g lisinopril cinfa 5mg buying levitra in generic viagra warnng 150mg diflucan order glucophage 500 mg nebenwirkungen buy 80 mg cialis nexium 40 mg romania levitra 10 generico prednisone 15mg 5ml tabletki xenical 120 mg cialis generic benefits 20 mg lexapro reviews buy propecia wholesale lasix 250 mg cialis cheap fast 6 mg zoloft doxycycline 100mg eyes buy cialis emedsrx capsulas xenical 120 mg cheap kamagra paypal cialis take 2 5 mg welt online viagra is prednisone generic cialis online greece nexium 20 mg bijwerkingen order viagra america cialis 10 mg effectiveness synthroid generic walmart levitra bucodispersable 10 mg amoxil 875 mg propecia generic date buy viagra nj 10 mg viagra cialis 10 e 20 mg viagra 12.5 mg effects viagra 100mg men latvian generic cialis prednisone mg tablets xenical capsulas 120 mg generic viagra spray augmentin 625mg price generic levitra store buy single viagra hydrochlorothiazide triamterene 25 mg clomid 50mg musculation wellbutrin generic a101 generico viagra precio 2mg of propecia cialis 20 mg 2 gel viagra 100mg cialis 36 hr 20 mg tabletki doxycycline 100mg cheap cialis review generic propecia effective wellbutrin teva generic cialis generic information viagra professional 50mg propecia generic cheap cialis online legale buy cipro online viagra buyers us viagra sildenafil 100 mg lasix 40 mg. amp propecia generic finasteride generic vs levitra cialis 20 mg doses zithromax 1gm online cheap viagra 150 80 mg prednisone dose 100mg clomid statistics diflucan fluconazol 50 mg pill nolvadex online cialis australia online buy viagra penang viagra integration online priligy 60 mg tablets 40 mg lexapro withdrawal cialis softabs generic lasix 20 mg used cialis 5 mg after levitra 40 mg professional cialis samples online lisinopril mylan generic cialis generic brands buying valtrex online cialis 20 mg tab zithromax online canada 75 mg of phenergan propranolol tablets 10 mg 20mg lexapro cheap propecia order sales levitra 10 mg 4 st strattera 80 mg coupon 2012 5mgm cialis about clomid 75mg lisinopril hctz 30 mg cheap cytotec philippines 6generic levitra cheap 5 gr cheap cialis 40 mg levitra review lexapro generic soon xenical 120 mg diflucan 200 mg yeast preisvergleich cialis 20 mg propecia 1 eller 5 mg 1000 mg doxycycline lyme 80 mg strattera cost overseas generic viagra clomid 150 mg jumeaux generic zoloft 100 mg doxycycline 100mg dosering buy diflucan india viagra 25mg online lexapro five mg prednisone 4 mg mexico strattera overdose mg generic wellbutrin lawsuit viagra australia online cheap geniue viagra 120 mg lasix daily posologia lexapro 10 mg lexapro 10 mg migraine generic levitra advice cheap kamagra ireland viagra cheap cod generic metformin manufacturer montreal viagra 100mg diflucan 150 mg gardnerella buy propecia 5 mg real 50mg viagra levitra 20 mg costo cialis lilly 20 mg doxycycline teva 100 mg clomid pct buy when cialis generic generique cialis 20 mg online eczane levitra lisinopril fatigue 20mg cialis generic comparison erythromycin 250 mg dosing viagra 50mg australia metformin hcl 50mg clomid round 2 50mg 1000 mg metformin hydrochloride citalopram 40 mg daily cytotec 600 mg kamagra 50mg paypal lexapro 15mg price pfizer cialis online sandoz lisinopril 40 mg lisinopril hydrochlorothiazide buy propecia tablets cheap 60 mg of nexium buy doxycycline australia doxycycline 200 mg tab nexium 40 mg uputstvo buy cream viagra prednisone 8mg nexium esomeprazol 40 mg 36 hr cialis 20 mg vidal viagra 100mg cheap celebrex prescription prednisone 30 mg dose 10mg lisinopril manufacturers prednisone steroid 5mg priligy online pharmacy buy levitra paypal cheapest 100 levitra uk cipro 1000 mg dose buy levitra viagra clomid buy usa doxycycline 150 mg acne buy diflucan cheap online viagra bangalore break 25 mg viagra lexapro generic list 1 mg prednisone tablets 90 mg prednisone shot kamagra 5mg duration 3200 mg bactrim harga lasix 40 mg buy sildenafil dapoxetine 18 mg of strattera buying cialis generic buy prednisone 2.5mg buying viagra free free 150mg viagra cialis 5mg canada buying tijuana viagra viagra approval online buy viagra 150 mg prednisone buy canada viagra dubai online doxycycline mail order buy viagra 2.5 mg nolvadex generic cheap viagra tablet 100mg online cialis costco celebrex online australia vibramycin 100mg doxycycline doxycycline monohydrate 100mg online viagra legal teva generic metformin generic lexapro tablets bestlife generic viagra cialis 40 mg dose viagra online philippines cialis 29 mg cheap levitra overnight whats 40 mg levitra lisinopril 20 mg tabl bactrim generico xenical tem generico cialis 2.5 mg prices korea viagra online viagra bonus buys 200 mg viagra dangerous lexapro 10 mg weight cheap kamagra 4u cheap cialis prescription prednisone tablets 1 mg lisinopril 20 mg wiki clomid buy us nombre generico cytotec zoloft mg dose diflucan 200 mg posologia cialis 80 mg bali cialis 2.5mg cpr 28 australia generic viagra phenergan 25 mg sleep bula cialis 10mg lexapro generic of guaranteed cheapest kamagra viagra 25 mg bestellen generic zoloft liquid cheap levitra 20mg order diflucan canada cialis loan online 200 mg doxycycline hyclate valtrex cheap price propecia online generic name lisinopril tetracycline 250 mg acne buy cialis paypal xenical 250mg viagra cheap paypal generic cialis tablet celebrex generic 200mg cialis 5mg medstore buy nolvadex europe generic zoloft difference acheter viagra 25mg 25mg zoloft depression buy zithromax online viagra cheap northwest cialis discount 20mg prednisone dosage 20 mg zithromax buy overnight generico viagra 100mg levitra online discount dosage augmentin 500mg skachat propecia 1mg 100mg doxycycline hyc prednisone 40 mg jour online viagra warning buy cheap tetracycline lasix pills 80mg 200 mg viagra fine xenical orlistat 60 mg xenical generico portugal kamagra 120 mg generic metformin synthroid .15 mg buy cialis delhi cost cialis 20mg nexium 40mg reviews zovirax 200 mg compresse generic lexapro mylan buy ladies viagra buying viagra shops viagra 800mg usa buy lexapro online uk viagra buy clomid price 50 mg cialis tabl.20mg generic viagra 60 obat clomid 50mg zithromax online ordering buy bactrim sulfamethoxazole cialis 20 mg online buy lasix fast augmentin syrup 125mg valtrex 500 mg cost viagra pharmacy online cytotec comprare online buy generic doxycycline generic name synthroid viagra 25 vs 50 mg dapoxetine 30mg price viagra online svizzera 4 mg prednisone generic propecia cheap zithromax 500 mg azithromycin cialis 5 mg kuwait valtrex generico bula buy glucophage uk viagra online reputable buy clomid privately generic cialis zoll generic order viagra lisinopril 40 mg lupin order zoloft us sildenafil generic viagra lasix 40 mg cost acyclovir zovirax cheap buying cialis tablets buy clomid philippines 20 mg. cialis weaning prednisone 10mg cialis free 20 mg celebrex generics generic viagra safety doxycycline buy vietnam zovirax 800 mg candidiase propranolol cheap buy diflucan 200mg clomid 100mg ed xenical uk online kemasan cialis 10mg generic cialis sweden the cheapest cialis metformin 500mg sr generic viagra facts viagra 25 mg precio dosage 0.25mg propecia amoxil bd875mg propecia buy prescription purchase viagra 25mg buy cipro online synthroid . 5mg bijwerking nexium 40 mg clomid 100mg nausea nexium generic cost buying doxycycline 100mg cialis de 10mg phenergan 10 mg antihistamine viagra 100,3000 mg cheap viagra shop cialis comprar 5mg cialis 20 mg confezioni generic levitra indian valtrex 1000 mg canada 30 mg de lexapro diflucan 150 mg confezione us viagra online diflucan 200 mg dosage 59 propecia finasteride 1mg thuoc levitra 20mg generic name erythromycin viagra mexico border hydrochlorothiazide dosage 50 mg 20 mg cialis instructions buy viagra makati wholesale cialis 20mg zoloft greenstone generic viagra online kauf synthroid generic buy blue generic wellbutrin propranolol er 80 mg prednisone 60 mg surgery 100mg diflucan 50 mg cialis generic viagra coupons xenical buy now erythromycin 400 mg dosage cialis 10 mg erfahrungen diflucan 150mg dosage cialis 5 mg online augmentin 850 mg dosage 40mg branded cialis 10mg prednisone dogs cheap viagra boots cipla generic propecia phenergan 50mg suppository clomid steroid online buy cialis direct viagra generico 50 mg order cialis fedex levitra 10 mg dose 10mg levitra tablets levitra 10 mg.ca lisinopril 2.5 mgs generico viagra cialis valtrex online canada levitra 20mg testbericht posologia levitra 10 mg cialis 4cpr 10 mg mail order clomid online viagra online generic propecia uk cheap lisinopril 10mg viagra 100mg abgelaufen zithromax 500 mg filmtabl buy Cialis 90 pills diflucan one 50mg cheapest viagra 800mg lasix 500 mg generic generic female viagra cialis 20mg achat apo prednisone 20mg lasix generic name levitra 10 mg beneficios xenical buy india cialis 10 mg transfer prednisone 5mg schedule generic lexapro anxiety 1oomg cialis wholesale buying erythromycin online generic actoplus metformin costo viagra 50 mg lisinopril 5mg doxycycline hyclate online cialis 35mg 1oo mg clomid clomid apres img lisinopril 40mg tablet indian viagra 50 mg diflucan 2cps 150mg strattera generic drug cialis 10mg 4 cpr viagra generika 50mg buy augmentin 625mg 10mg cialis tablets metformin 500 mg alcohol 40 mg cialis australia dosage phenergan 25mg buy oral nolvadex buy doxycycline 50 10 mg levitra prices kamagra generic cialis strattera buy adhd buy levitra cyprus buy viagra bournemouth generic substitution cialis buying cialis 10mg viagra 50 y 100 mg diflucan dosage 150mg cialis online pharmacies generic priligy manufacturer strattera pill mg levitra dispersible 5 mg cialis take 2 5mg fass cialis 5mg order viagra men zithromax 4x 250mg metformin 500 mg purpose 50 mg clomid enough cialis 5 mg walgreens celebrex price generic levitra 20 mg filmtabletta buy viagra cheap manufacture generic viagra generic xenical uk buy nexium drug prednisone taper 20 mg buy prednisone uk metformin 500 mg pdf synthroid prescription online buy kamagra fuerteventura xenical nome generico online viagra emails strattera 40 mg capsulas online buspar zithromax generic us