Discussion Post: (inspired by Shahrukh’s Speech) What Movies Do You Think the Critics Did Not Treat Fairly and Wish People Would Watch?

Remember, the person with the most comments before the end of the month gets a free Shahrukh-in-a-bathrobe-with-alcohol poster! It’s beautiful and I know you want it. Give a comment, or preferably many many comments (you can choose multiple movies and have a separate comment for each) on this post to help you win.

Shahrukh just gave a brilliant speech about how the job of a critic is to elevate art, not to minimize it down to a star rating. So true, and something which has lead to many films that aren’t “perfect”, that don’t fit within some ideal critic’s template, to be rejected and overlooked.

Let’s take Jab Harry Met Sejal as an example. It is a brilliant movie with amazing performances that got forced into the tiny box of “yet another rom-com”. It was given a simple star system rating and a simple one sentence meme-friendly critique and no one went any further than that, and people missed out on a good film.

Now, NO ONE ELSE CAN PICK JHMS!!!! You have to come up with another example of something that was really good and really strange and somehow the critics turned it into a joke and the audience never gave it a chance. Or, as I said, multiple examples! Give them each their own comment! Makes it easier for discussion, plus also increases your poster chances.

Here are a few for me:

Jaan-E-Mann: This is an extremely weird film. And yet it has these moments of pure beauty, plus three really fun lead performances. It’s worth watching despite the critical hate! And it was the first time I discovered that I didn’t always agree with Indian film critics.

This song is so beautiful! How could the critics have just rejected the whole movie without mentioning the moments of beauty?

Ra.ONE: This is a big silly fun dumb action movie, and all it ever wanted to be was a big silly fun dumb action movie. But somehow it was reviewed and treated like a failure because it wasn’t something better than that. And because it had a few slightly racist/ethnic jokes.

It’s just fun! And it just wants to be fun.

Just in case you can’t think of any that fit the “critics drive me crazy because they don’t give films a chance” rule, you can also do the alternative, “a movie I only watched because of the crazy good reviews and then I loved it“. For me, Loins of Punjab. It’s got a bad title and a bad poster, but I saw so many critics lavishing praise on it that I gave it a chance and it turned into one of my all time favorite movies.

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65 thoughts on “Discussion Post: (inspired by Shahrukh’s Speech) What Movies Do You Think the Critics Did Not Treat Fairly and Wish People Would Watch?

  1. I know this is going to be a minority opinion, but I LOVED Saawariya. Critics dismissed it as fanciful and shallow…but I thought that was the point! It was not meant to be a character study…it was meant to be an operatic stylized musical…I understand why people would not like the movie…but I felt that the critics could have been more nuanced in their judgment.

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    • I really don’t like Saawariya, but I also agree with you. I don’t like Saawariya, or Ram-Leela, or Bajirao, or Padmavat, to me they all have the same problem of stylized and surface over depth. What bothers me is that Saawariya was universally critiqued, while the other 3 were praised. And it feels like the critics are simply praising the others because they have a familiar story and a gloss of “history” (not Ram-Leela, but the others), rather than as works of art. If you found Saawariya bad, you should also find Padmavat bad. Or vice versa. In terms of style, they are almost identical.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 3:37 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I am very, very angry with you for taking JHMS off the table, because it is the most underrated movie of the decade (at least the ones I saw…). But okay, if you insist. I thought Fan, with all its flaws, was a well-acted, emotional roller coaster of a film. Maybe the promotions mispromised, but the movie should not have been judged on the promotions by professional reviewers. It is one thing for the reviewer to inform the audience — as you often do — that the film is not what we have been led to expect, but once that it done, I expect their informed, insightful analysis of the actual film.

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    • I can’t believe Fan wasn’t better received! There are so many things that cry out to be acknowledged, starting with the massive technological leap forward, not just beyond what India has done, but beyond what any film industry from anywhere has managed to do. My biggest problem was with reviews that treated it as a self-indulgent ego piece, Shahrukh turning himself into the hero. But, THAT WAS THE POINT!!!! It was like Adaptation or 8 1/2, brilliant meta statements that only work because they are considering a real person.

      You don’t have to love the film, or even think it was very good, but the basic goal of the filmmakers (exploring the fan-star-society relationship through a purposefully reflexive performance in which a star plays himself and his own fan) needs to be acknowledged before you move on to ANYTHING else.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 3:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. What critics did not treat fairly?

    Apart from JHMS which you took already I would say Raabta deserved more love. Its a different kind of story with 2 stories in it and they both work! It’s like seeing a movie and then seeing the fanfiction written about it in the movie. That’s at least my take on it. And SSR and Kriti’s chemistry is beyond perfect and of course Jim Sarbh who is good in every thing his in. It seems like the critics were ready to hate this movie before they watched it.

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    • Thank you! I love Raabta too! And I also do not understand the critics. It’s not supposed to be realistic or great art, just a fun entertaining silly fantasy romance. I had a great time watching it and was never bored, I am sure other people would have felt the same even though it wasn’t perfect. You are right, it felt like it was judged and rejected from the point of the posters, no one ever gave it a chance.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 3:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Then as for second Saawariya. Personally I think it would have worked better as some kind of theatre if it was made in to such, add Rani a song and tweak Sonam’s character and it would have been perfect. Also the songs are so calming, Yoon Shabnami is just beautiful.

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  5. I wanted to say JHMS!
    The second movie that comes to my mind is Mirzya. Being honest I don’t know what reviewers said about this movie, I only knew it was huge flop, and I was expecting the worst when I started watching it. I needed only 20 minutes to understand it’s a very well made film. I even remember exact moment – it was durning the scene when kids run to take their school bus. Nothing special, a scene seen in thousand other movies, but camerawork was so good, and the mood of the scene, the actors. And it was long before the real story begins, before we can hear those amazing songs, or see the exceptional choreography.
    Yes, I know the movie is not perfect, but I wonder how a movie like this can be summarized using stars, or worse one word?

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    • Mirzya is a great example. It’s a film that I both don’t think is very good, and also think is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I remember one review I read went off on the melodramatic silly scene between the heroine and her father. And he is right, that was a silly bad scene. But it was in the middle of a beautiful film, why pick on that one scene you didn’t like instead of talking about everything that surrounded it? And similar to Fan, even if it failed, you have to start from the basis of acknowledging the goal of weaving together three stories at once (the legend, the dancers hearing the story, and the present day couple) which was ambitious and groundbreaking. And then you can move on to whether or not the film succeeded in that goal, or succeeded as a whole. You can’t just say “bad acting-2 stars” and move on.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 3:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, yes. I think the reviewers have only two boxes, one good and one bad, and they had to put every movie in one of those, there is not other option. That’s why I love your blog so much because you treat every movie as a whole, with good, and bad things.

        There is another movie I must add – Hamari Adhuri Kahani. It was the shock of my life when I discovered nobody likes it. Being honest I don’t know if this film has any flaws, because I was so immersed in emotion that I don’t rememeber nothing else. Lately I read one review of HAK, and was so angry, because the reviewer was repeating that people shouldn’t watch this film because it’s very antiquated, and now in the times of Queen, we don’t need such movies. She had a problem mainly Vidya’s attachment to mangalsutra. But it was the point of the movie. She was a good wife, who was faithful to her husband, and her mangalsutra was a symbol of it. Later she had this great speach, and she left her husband because he was the worst and she finally had the force to do it. Why the reviewer didn’t write about this?

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        • I’m not going to say Hamari Adhuri Kahani was a good movie necessarily, but it fits within the swoony romantic genre perfectly well. And I certainly wouldn’t say it is “regressive”. Vidya is a married woman with a child who has a relationship with another man, that is radical. And then she chooses to leave her marriage, which is even more radical. It feels like maybe that reviewer was looking at the surface too much, putting it neatly in the same box as all the other swoony romantic suffering woman films, without thinking about how it was different.

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  6. Well you took JHMS off the table (the backlash for the movie confuses me to no end especially since it’s like a regular Imtiaz Ali movie!) so I’m probably going to go with ADHM (I didn’t really closely follow hindi film until like 2017 so I’m not completely sure if this was panned or not but I heard that there were quite a few people that didn’t like it?). I thought all of the questions asked about unrequited love and friendship were fascinating, loved how complicated and messy the relationships were and I honestly think it’s one of Ranbir’s better performances. Personally I prefer this film over the critically acclaimed Rockstar (which I didn’t like!)

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    • I think ADHM wasn’t totally panned, but it was a situation where I think some of the reviews were dealing more with the context than with the film in front of them. I agree, it asked really good and unusual questions about big things, and it was perfectly cast and the performances were wonderful. But it got a lot of coverage that treated it as “same old same old Karan rich people relationship problems”. If he had directed it under an assumed name, I don’t think it would have gotten that response, the film on its own was something new, it was just forced into a Karan Johar pattern because that was easy.

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      • Huh I just kind of assumed people didn’t like it because it wasn’t a typical “Karan Johar movie”. I think the rich people problems complaint for this particular film is simplistic because I really feel like the main conflict comes from the whole struggle of unrequited love which is universal in my opinion

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        • I agree, I feel like the wealth of the characters was an advantage in that it stripped out all over issues so we could focus entirely on the relationship drama. If Ranbir and Anushka and Aish had to worry about jobs and stuff, it would have taken time away from what was the point of the story.

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  7. Although it was not panned by critics, I feel like Raavanan (the Tamil version of the Mani Ratnam film) deserved more love. Prithviraj was brilliant in his role playing a character with shades of grey and Vikram truly embodied his character of Veera. Despite Aish typically not being a strong actress, I thought she did justice to her character of Ragini. Overall, I feel like this film deserved more appreciation from the media.

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    • I haven’t seen it myself, which kind of proves your point. In my mind I somehow have it categorized as a “lessor” Mani Ratnam somehow, without ever having seen it.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 4:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. I’d like to claim Pahelli which he calls a failure and is a wonderful film about empowering women no less. I might not be able to write a long post till Sunday but since Fan and JHMS are taken…Rab ne badi is also under appreciated. It’s a STUNNING performance. Hmmm what is it about these double roles……I will write more I promise.

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    • Paheli isn’t my favorite, but it still deserves good reviews. The period costuming and sets alone bring it to a higher level. Rab Ne was so good, and I think it generally got good reviews too, but not as good as it deserved.

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    • YES!!!!! Like, they didn’t get that it was a spoof. Or something. And it’s such a good movie! The action sequences alone are on another level.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 7:14 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Hmm..I agree with all the above comments and wished I had said it first.Since you guys are not giving me my chance to shine in the spotlight, lemme stick out like a sore thumb and tell you guys about the film’s that critics loved and I hated (not literally but let’s say it didn’t touch the sweet spot for me.
    Don’t hate me for saying this:-
    Barfi
    Secret Superstar 😈
    Gangs of Wasseypur

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    • I have only seen Secret Superstar, which was okay but didn’t blow me away. The other two I have avoided because I suspected I would not like them. The clips I have seen from both films and the plot descriptions said that the style and plot were just not what I would enjoy.

      There are truly great movies, very rare movies, that anyone would enjoy even if they weren’t in a style and telling a story that would usually be to your taste. But too often it feels like critics give that “great, brilliant!” stamp of approval to a film just because it is in a style they like, or which feels different to them, without considering that some of their praise might simply be because it is to their taste, not because it is perfect.

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  10. Hard agree about JHMS, FAN, and Raabta. How did critics like Tumhari Sulu? Qarib Qarib Singlle? Befikre? These are three that came to mind as flawed movies that I loved. Don’t know how critics felt though.

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    • Tumhari Sulu and Qarrib Qarrib Singlle got moderate reviews (I think they were so unnoticed and low budget, there wasn’t time to build up a prejudice before watching them). Befikre got mostly terrible reviews, which I felt were undeserved.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 7:44 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I only watched Befikre because you liked it. The trailers looked just so horrible. And I’m glad I did. I finally saw some appeal to Ranveer, and not just because of the underwear. 😉 Looking forward to seeing Vaani in something else.

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        • So glad I got someone to see Befikre! It’s not a great movie, if I were a reviewer who only said “good” or “bad” I would be hard put to justify either opinion. But if you are a person who likes rom-coms and good dancing, it is a very enjoyable watch.

          On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 12:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  11. I remember films I liked and didn’t like, but not always their names. This is true of American movies too, but more so with Indian ones because of the language barrier. Truth is, there are very few Indian movies I don’t like. Even when it’s not going well, I generally stay until the end or fast-forward, like with Manikarnika. Bahubali and Mirzya are my all-time favorites (so far). The entire planet liked the Bahubalis and rightly so. Neither fans nor critics jumped on the Mirzya bandwagon, however. What was wrong with them? The epic romance, the cinematography, the dancing, the beauty of the principal actors aside, it was a chance to see dear Om Puri in one of his last roles. And Harshvardan Kapoor, my God, for a debut role, I think he nailed it. As the warrior suitor, he was believably fierce yet innately gentle in his pursuit of the princess. And as the stable hand, he completely convinced me that his inherent innocence had fought and lost the battle with his wild and free DNA. After that film, Harsh zoomed right up there with SRK and Prabhas as my idols. BTW, in “Not A Movie Review”, Sucharita Tyagi liked Mirzya. And I like her. So there!

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    • This is all just making me want to put the Mirzya soundtrack on my phone to get me through the work day. It is such a beautiful movie. An odd movie, not very Masala, that is, not a lot of variety in the rasas/moods of the piece. I could see that being why it turned off the audiences. You couldn’t really take your 3 year old to it, or your elderly grandfather. But I don’t understand why the critics couldn’t get behind it. It felt like the opposite of something like Barfi! (mentioned above). The over the top romance is a style and plot that most critics just do not find to their taste, and they mistook not liking the genre for not liking this film, in the same way that gang and crime films made in a realistic style tend to get good reviews because most critics like that kind of film.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 8:44 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I really want you to see Barfi! sometime though. Really really. It shows how effed up families can be, and how wonderful it can be to find/make your own loving and supportive family. And also shows that there are many ways to love someone even within the category of romantic love.

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        • Yeah, but it’s by that guy who did Jagga Jasoos which made me well-nigh incoherent with hate. I’m afraid I’ll see it and not like it.

          On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 1:02 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  12. Zero!!! I love this movie! From the first to the last shot firmly rooted in the reel world it dealt with real emotions and real issues. Intelligent, funny, sad and full of hope with deliberately unbelievable but touching moments…and with no excuses, no unnecessary explanations, no pity but learning, changing, coming to terms with oneself.
    The four ShahRukh movies of this decade the most unfairly treated by critics (and domestic audience) were Ra.One, Fan, JHMS and Zero.

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    • …not to forget the different levels which invite to multiple interpretations…
      I seldom read critics’ reviews but after the JHMS debacle I did…and I got really angry.
      It was a refreshing experience for me that ShahRukh had the courage to speak very clearly and even addressed some by name. I hope, Anupama and Rajeev got hurt even though they may have put a smile on their face (and on twitter).

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      • I also hope this was the start of a change in how Shahrukh, and other artists, address critics. In the past I admire and respect that Indian film actors would react to bad box office by taking responsibility, saying “we failed to reach the audience, something was clearly wrong”. It felt dignified and like they were giving respect to the common people, saying that the people had a right to their opinions. But now there is increasingly a disconnect, it is not the common people that are giving their verdict on these films, it is the critics who are blocking the films from reaching them. And that’s a whole different situation. Actors can and should get more aggressive about confronting critical opinions, saying openly “No, that review you read or saw missed the point of the film, think for yourself and give it a chance”.

        On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 9:08 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I’m madder at the critics than the audience in those cases, but for different reasons film to film. Zero and Fan were films for the critics, exciting risky leaps forward in film. Even if you didn’t like either movie as a whole, as a film critic you should have understood and admired what they were trying to do and helped the audience see the risks that were taken. I don’t think the audience would ever have embraced either of those films, but the critics should have. Ra.One and JHMS, I think the audience could have really loved those movies if the critics had given them permission. They weren’t made for the critics, they were made for the audiences, but the critics killed them by drawing out all the little problems instead of looking at the overall entertaining result.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 8:56 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’m not sure if ShahRukh ever made a movie “for the critics”… in the contrary, I feel that he made the movies despite the critics.
        When he learned the hard way that the focus was set on negativity and superficial bashing he made zero the ‘diagnostic flag’ to decide his future way.
        One thing he won’t do (I think), is working for the critics…he made this very clear.
        Honouring Raja Sen’s approach to his work as film critic, he also signaled that one hasn’t to like the respective film, one only has to treat it as a work of art, not a piece of trash.

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        • I think you are spot on, Claudia. Also, good for you for mentioning Zero. I love it so much. I didn’t mention it here because it makes me sad that Margaret didn’t love it as much. Of course it’s ok if we don’t all love the same movies for the same reasons, but after all of our strong agreement around JHMS, and the deep scene by scene analysis and discussion here, it was kind of sad. I’ve really enjoyed your writing about Zero here and on Twitter, and I’m sure Shah Rukh and others at Red Chillies have read it!

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          • Just jumping in to say “SEE??? This is why I don’t want to watch Barfi!” It’s Schroedinger’s film review, so long as I haven’t seen or written about it, my opinion exists in a state of uncertainty, both good and bad at once. Once I actually watch the thing, it will forever be set in the “good” or “bad” side and there is a decent change I will end up making you sad.

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          • I can live with occasional sadness because I value your opinions, ideas, and ways of expressing, even if I disagree! I could live with a hilariously irritated review of Barfi! 🙂

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    • I just saw Fan again last night and what a brilliant, brilliant film. The only quibble I had was that there were too many chase scenes and that they lasted too long. The real story was so good that it was irritating to see all the running around that seemed like it was stalling the real plot. It’s a real crime that SRK didn’t get an award for that movie.
      Fan and JHMS will age like Dil Se and Swades did. At the time of release nobody liked those movies either so it’s ironic when critics say he should do more movies like Swades now! I bet if you dug up their reviews (some of them were working at that time), they would have spewed venom and now claim to love those movies since public opinion has changed. Indian critics are the biggest frauds.

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  13. I would think a popular movie is one that connects with maximum audience ,that gives them a satisfactory return for the time and money investment they made on this movie.
    Critics-the legit ones at least- are also part of the audience with a keener eye for the artistic quality of the movie that other audience may or may not care about. Their job,is to give an assessment of the final product in the simplest way possible and not how it was conceived,how it measures up against the original plans or what it could have been .To the credit of most Indian critics,they usually spell out explicitly what they liked or didn’t like about a particular movie. You can agree or disagree with them,it’s a free country but who are you to say that their opinion is wrong?
    If critics had the final word in how audience received a movie ,Sanju ,Total Dhamaal and most Salman movies would never ever have made it.On the other side of the coin,there’s also a Tumbaad or Sonchiriya which the critics loved but didn’t connect with the audience.Even Baahubali isn’t a critic favorite.Critics opinions matter, but not so much that it can pull down a decently entertaining movie that people find some connect with.Ultimately it is the word of mouth from those who already watched the movie is how a movie stays on and becomes a hit. You have stated that yourself in some of your boxoffice analysis.

    A mainstream movie that only a few could enjoy because they somehow ‘got it’ or parts of it worked for them but the larger population could not connect with is not a good movie.That just means the film maker didn’t know his core audience well enough to make/keep them interested. All the movies listed here didn’t entertain the Indian audience and blaming the critics for that is just a way of shifting the responsibility from poor story telling.I would rather sympathise with movies like Tumbaad or Laila Majnu which, despite favorable reviews weren’t considered mainstream or A-list enough for people to go watch.
    Btw, you & SRK are not the only ones blaming critics when your favorite movies fail. Rangoli is also lashing out at Anupama for talking up Kalank & criticising Manikarnika. It is surely tough being a critic these days with the kind of things people accuse them of and the fans going hook,line and sinker for it and questioning their credibility.

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    • So your argument is that the job of the critic is to help the audience determine which films are and are not worth seeing? My feeling would be that the job of a critic is to help the audience see what is valuable in every film and let them make their own judgement as to which films they would like to watch based on that. The star rating system and headlines and discussion that simplify the conversation to “good” or “bad” are ultimately harmful to films as an artform. If critics want respect and influence (and their influence is growing in Hindi film especially by leaps and bounds), then they need to think about how they wish to treat their profession, if it is a simple matter of rating a product or if it is considering it as a work of art.

      And there is also the question of credibility. Where, exactly, do reviewers get their credibility? Is it simply because of a certain view count or clicks on their reviews? In that case, what makes them different from an amateur video reviewer, or any audience member? If it is from the content of the reviews, than that goes back to a call for a deeper consideration of each film instead of a simple “good” or “bad” perspective.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 12:26 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Hit or flop doesn’t necessarily correspond to the quality of a movie. In that case, Total Dhamaal and Simba type of garbage would have to be considered great filmmaking. I doubt that even the people who watch and enjoy those movies actually believe that to be true. Those types of movies are consumer products that scratch a particular itch, not art in any form.

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    • I vehemently disagree with you, MKP. Although a film critic has the right to state if he/she liked a movie it should never ever be the base for reviewing the movie…

      And about the socalled word-of-mouth, it has become an empty platitude in the times of twitter/social media. What do you think how many of those who post negatively/praisingly about a movie have indeed watched the movie? 100%, 90%, 80%??? I bet, less, very much less…it’s mostly jumping a band-wagon, giving oneself a small amount of importance.

      No, if you want to get a very own opinion, you may read whatever pleases you but there is no alternative to watching the movie – and preferably with an unbiaised mind…could you do that???

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  14. I’m struck here by the examples of where, despite their journalistic or academic credentials, and so-called sophisticated understanding of films, critics are interpreting things literally when they are meant to have metaphorical, symbolic meanings. Like the mangal sutra and the ring examples which people have given. And I’d add to that critics (present company excluded) missing that Zero is magical realism, not a science fiction movie, nor a “slice of life” romance.

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    • Film criticism is odd, because often the most widely read and “professional” reviewers have the least actual credentials. Bardwaj Rangan, Anupama Chopra, Rajeev Masand, none of them have degrees in anything related to film. In that way, I am more qualified than they are. They have trained themselves and are all very good at what they do, but it says something about how film criticism is treated in general that there is no expectation or requirement for a critic to have any kind of training. And it makes the possibility of gaps in critical knowledge a little more likely since they never took any kind of standard film course. Which isn’t to say an academic credential guarantees a good reviewer, or a good reviewer has to have an academic credential, I think Anupama and Bardwaj know far far more than me about film in general and how to consider it, but they aren’t the only reviewers around.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 1:11 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I think of Anu and Rajeev more as journalists than academic critics, but journalists are writers too, no? So they should be open to multiple interpretations of one work. I do think it gets back to “what is the critic’s job” as you have said.

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        • Yes, I think likewise, Procratinatrix. Anupama and Rajeev are journalists…Anupama is also a writer. Doing interviews and research work, talking about cinema…okay.
          Rajeev has himself diqualified (imo) since he started to write ‘Blinds’, and Anupama since she started to pass personal judgements which have nothing to do with analyzing movies/movie business.

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  15. I *loved* Zamaana Dewanna – I was surprised it was considered a ‘meh’ movie. I was pleased to see that you also appreciated it, ‘cause it deserves more love.
    I think you are infinitely more qualified to critique films than the current batch of haters.
    You should consider putting together a conference/convention of some sort for non-Desi and NRI fans and invite SRK. We can all come together to bemoan the lack of decent movie critics and he can roast them some more 😉

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    • So glad to find another Zamaana Deewana lover! It’s a really good film, with some funny spoof bits that I think might have gone over peoples’ heads a bit.

      Wouldn’t it be fun to have a DCIB gathering? The problem being that everyone is very busy and also lives very far away from each other. If I were a millionaire, I would have a get together in every region so I could talk to you all one by one.

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  16. I really loved the movie Aiyyaa. That insanely quirky movie starring Rani as Meenakshi. Critics universally panned it and audiences didn’t give it a chance! I loved the strong female character, riddled with wild fantasies of filmy romance. I enjoyed the Wed Anderson like quirk seeping from every character, set, and situation. The insane parents, the hilariously fantastical grandmother! Who could ever forget Meenakshi’s friend who was essentially lady Gaga on acid. The story flips the usual stalker love story on its head with Meenakshi being the one spying on and fantasizing about the guy but in a sweet, unobtrusive way (vs creepy stalker like behavior most Bollywood male characters think is flirting). The music too!!! The crazy parody of a Tamil movie all the way to the sweetest song “Mehek bhi”. Don’t get me wrong, the movie could have used editing and reeled it in (especially the strange bits with lady Gaga and the brother). But overall this was a huge change for Bollywood in narrative, characters, and tone that I felt it deserved more of an open mind from critics and more applause and appreciation for Rani’s risk taking!

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    • Yes, I love that movie too! And a lot of people do, I finally gave it a chance because of all the talk I was hearing on message boards and stuff about how great it was. But I missed it in theaters because I trusted reviews that said it wasn’t worth it.

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      • I don’t trust reviews, I just think of them as a point of view. However there are reviewers/critics I read…like I do here.

        I did not read anything about Zero here after the movie released even though I had to wait a very long time. I may have read some opinions in india-forums but those never matter to me…yours, Margaret, would matter.
        When I read your critic after having watched the movie I knew that our perception for a part at least did not correspond but that doesn’t matter to me…I just wondered what did I see that you didn’t (or vice versa).
        Yet what I read in other critics (after having watched the movie) was – sometimes – an insult to the job of a critic.

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        • I like my system of non-spoiler and spoiler reviews partly for this reason. The non-spoiler is aimed at helping people decide if they want to see the movie, tells the good things and the bad things and gives a sense of the kind of film it is. And then the spoiler review is where I dig in and give my feelings and opinions on the film. And you shouldn’t read the spoiler review until you have formed your own judgements.

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          • That’s what I appreciate very much…and when I refer to your reviews, I always give both links seperately.

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  17. I know you don’t like it, but I think Tamasha was under-rated. I feel the same way about it as you feel about JHMS. (For the record, I am a staunch SRK fan but don’t like JHMS.) I feel like people were taking Tamasha a bit too literally while it was going a lot more for a more vague exploration of how the heady days of falling in love are very different from the reality of everyday life. It also uses some interesting storytelling devices and seems to borrow a lot more from the older “nautanki” style, which maybe came across as jarring in the very modern setting. The setting of the Heer Toh Badi Sad Hai song is very interesting. People write it off as yet another Ranbir man-child role but I think his character here has a darkness that goes way beyond someone refusing to grow up and is more about someone who has suppressed his emotions. Also, Deepika does not get enough credit for how good she is in this movie. That 10-15 minute stretch between his proposal and the Agar Tum Saath Ho song always reduces me to a sobbing, blubbering mess. I don’t know how much of it has to do with their shared history, but it feels so raw that I almost want to avert my eyes.

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    • It’s true, I really don’t like Tamasha. But I agree that it was going for something more dreamlike. I wouldn’t criticize it for not having a plot or something like that, although I would criticize it for not making me care about the central character. Imtiaz Ali moves are so interesting, because they are all about character journeys and no real conflicts. But depending on how he films the story and structures the movie that is more or less clear. Something like Jab We Met, there is never really any “conflict”, both their families are nice and supportive of their romance, there are no enemies trying to destroy them, nothing like that. It is just about Shahid getting over a broken heart and learning to live again, and then Kareena going on the same journey. But because he filmed it in a straightforward familiar way, a way that was a little bit out of synch with the story he was telling (Shahid is suicidal in the beginning, but we don’t really see that because it is all filmed so brightly and cheerfully), the audience and critics embraced it.

      On Mon, Apr 29, 2019 at 4:00 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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  18. I know this is very far down on the comment line so I’m not sure who will see it but Film Companion is doing away with the star rating system BECAUSE OF WHAT SHAH RUKH SAID. This tweet and its aftermath bear some comment. Margaret, I’d LOVE to hear you on this.

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    • Yep yep, writing thing now. My responses are never timely because I think too much. And also have a job. But mostly because I think too much.

      On Fri, May 3, 2019 at 10:28 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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  19. Omg how long have I waited for someone to do analysises and some good and deep thinking about Bollywood movies! I am so happy that the Pardesi channel talked about you so that I finally stumbled upon your Youtube channel and blog! But anyways..
    So you already mentioned JHMS (which I also thought wasn’t as chatostrophic or lame as critics were making it out to be. It really takes you on an emotional journey and let’s you get an deep inside on to the insecurities and the longing of the two characters).

    Another movie which I really loved and thought got not enough fair treatment was ” Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon” with Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor. I remember that my mother randomly bought the movie (together with Yaadein and Mujshe Dosti Karoge) when I was much younger. We watched the movie together for the first time and had so much fun! It was for the longest of time one of our favourite movies by Hrithik and we loved the beautiful, melodic songs (”Bani, Bani”, ” O Ajinabi or Aur Mohabbat Hain” You should totally check them out if you haven’t!).
    But then I started reading online that the movie was actually a major flop in India and that it was panned and ridiculed by audiences and critics until today. Reading all these super negative reviews made me feel so dumb for even have liked the movie in the first place and I tried to convince my mother that she should also dislike it. But with time when we were going through our Bollywood movie collection again and after developing more backbone and being better at thinking for myself I realised that it was all bullshit.
    Why should I all of a sudden hate a movie that brought so much joy to me in the first place??

    I agree that this movie might have one of Hrithiks most over the top performances in history and the CGI animals look super fake and ridiculous but elsewise I adored the movie mostly.
    It talked about the negative sides of arranged marriages, greed, the love between a daughter and her father, friendships and how your soulmate sometimes could also be someone that doesn’t have anything in common with you. It also had a female lead that later revealed to her wedding guests her love for another man infront of everyone (basically what Kajol could have done in KKHH infront of Aman) and featured a romantic kissing scene as well some other passionate scenes (again over the top but very brave for Indian cinema around that time). My favourite part about the movie were Abhishek’s and Kareena’s performance though. They had amazing, tender and sweet chemistry and made me believe in the strong bond they shared. I loved how Kareena started to think differently because of Hrithik and how he made her try new things and see the world differently. And I loved how her character also transformed Abhishek around, so that he focused more on living in the present than thinking about handling his business and that he opened up more- It was really overall a coming-of-age story and not just a family drama or romance movie. Kareena had such an intresting feisty-ness about her and she looked (in my opinion) never better in any movie until this day. And Abhishek had this calm and collected but intelligent nature which made him outshine Hrithik in every sense in this movie ( I think just in general that his acting skills are totally underrated. I mostly loved all his performances he did. Esspecially as a supporting character).

    Overall, this movie might habe been crazy melodramatic, over the top and much more but it was still a very entertaining watch. The movie has way more good things than bad ones and even Hrithiks performance can’t take away from the beauty this movie actually inherits.

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    • Welcome! I am so glad you found me! And grateful (once again) to Pardesi. I think most people found me through her, she is very good at talking me up.

      And you have convinced me that Main Prem Diwani Hoon is worth another watch! I already love the songs, but the movie was too over the top for me. The way you wrote about it made me want to watch it. And, to me, that’s what a film review should do! Get you excited about the movie, make it more fun to watch the movie, not make you lose interest and hate it. And I really hate that bad reviews made you retroactively dislike a movie that you loved. That’s one of the worst things a review can do, make people feel bad for their own taste and what they enjoy.

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