More Critiquing the Critics: What Artists Get Too Much/Not Enough Credit?

I quite enjoyed everyone’s responses to yesterday’s post asking what films were reviewed unfairly (and please keep adding on there if you remember more or this post reminds you of something!). Everyone gave delightful varied answers that went beyond saying “this film was good and they said it was bad” and instead into how exactly the film was misinterpreted and dismissed. Now, let’s do the same for artists! There are some actors and directors and composers that always get loads of critical acclaim and may not deserve it, and others that never get noticed and really should.

I have MANY THOUGHTS on this topic, but I am going to try to limit myself to five.

I don’t know much about music, not even necessarily what I like, but I do know that Pritam is a better composer than he gets credit for. He tends to do a lot of “sampling” from other artists from other countries, and he takes on too much work sometimes and the quality suffers, but that should take away from the fact that when he is good, he is really really good. Not just pop fun catchy good, but complex and difficult and original good.

I don’t like this movie, and yet the one thing I have to acknowledge as truly groundbreaking is the way Pritam set up his musical score to flow in and out of the film. Very Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Shahid Kapoor! Actually a really really good actor. He isn’t showy about it, but then that’s when the critics should notice it even more. In Padmavat I found him far more interesting than Ranveer, but Ranveer had the crazy wig and big gestures and it was just easier to pick him out as the talented one instead of Shahid’s subtle understated performance.

Look at how he does sexy and a little drunk and a little in love all without going over the top

Karan Johar! You don’t have to like him as a writer, or even as a producer. Heck, you don’t have to like him as a director in his earlier stuff (although I think even if the camera work and lighting and stuff was blah in his early movies, the clever editing and directing of the actors still redeems him). But he deserves more acknowledgement for his achievements in ADHM, Bombay Talkies, and Lust Stories. His skill has grown enormously and yet his movies are still reviewed as though all there is to them is the performances and the story, no discussion of the visuals.

Also Pritam, come to think of it. But check out the lighting, the camera angles, that incremental track back from Ranbir’s face in the first minute and a half. This is a very skilled director.

Now, who gets too much credit?

Ranbir Kapoor. He’s good, but I feel like more often it is turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since Rockstar, whenever anyone thinks of something deep and emotional and very “actor-y”, Ranbir is cast in it. The critics should do a better job of drawing a line between a showy special role versus a showy special actor. And a better job of helping the audience to understand that “good acting” doesn’t have to be limited to the kind of parts that require a big obvious effort.

Okay, now you go! And remember, most comments before the end of the month gets a poster!

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40 thoughts on “More Critiquing the Critics: What Artists Get Too Much/Not Enough Credit?

  1. As I already mentioned, I very seldom read critics but some actresses’ names come into my mind spontaneously: Tapsee, Kriti Sanon, Anushka’s performance in JHMS and Zero, Katrina’s performances in some movies (i.e. I found her performance in JTHJ very fitting to the character and not “wooden” at all and I also liked her performance in NamasteyLondon).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kriti is an interesting one. She got a fair amount of credit for Bareilly Ki Barfi, but I thought her performance in Raabta was even better and more interesting, and she got no credit for that.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 11:47 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I don’t think I’m up enough yet on who is or isn’t critically acclaimed, particularly among newer faces, but I looooved ADHM, Bombay Talkies, and Lust Stories so kudos to Johar for those!!

    I guess one actor that I’m just not super enamoured with is Salman Khan. I don’t dislike him but I can’t think of any movie I’ve seen him in where I was really struck or touched by his acting. However, I’m still fairly new to the genre so it’s entirely possible that I just haven’t seen the right ones yet.

    Also, I know he’s still a pretty big-name actor, but Saif Ali Khan comes to mind. Again, I’m not very up on a lot of the critic reactions to things but I think he and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are just PHENOMENAL in the Netflix series Sacred Games.

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    • Salman is very successful at just playing Salman, so that’s all he usually bothers with. If you ever feel like watching him actually act, check out Tere Naam, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (at least the speech at the end), and most of Ek Tha Tiger.

      Totally agree about Saif! He started out as yet another foofy haired light actor, then around 2000 he had this string of roles that really made him stand out and people got excited about him. And somehow it kind of fell apart after that and folks went back to thinking of him as just another celebrity actor. I’m excited to see his recent choices, giving up on the popular acclaim in order to support the weird interesting art that is out there.

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  3. I agree about Shahid, especially in Padmaavat. I thought he was a semi pretty face and good dancer, lightweight actor, and then I saw Haider and was blown away. Not just for the big showy “I’m going crazy, or am I?” scenes, but every single scene, gesture, and expression.

    Most of the leading actresses I like get their fair share of recognition, I think. My love for Sheeba Chaddha and Kirron Kher is bottomless, so I’m pretty sure critics haven’t given them enough recognition. 😉

    Over-rated, I think, is Irrfan Khan, whom I also love and admire. But not everything he does is the end all and be all of acting. He sometimes misses the mark, sometimes phones it in, and that’s ok. He reminds me a lot of Michael Caine, who can act wonderfully when he feels like it or connects to a role, but who will also just do a movie for a check, do the part, and move on.

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    • Yes! Shahid embodies his characters so perfectly that it becomes invisible. The showy scenes are no longer showy because they seem just like a natural outgrowth of all the other moments.

      I will have to consider Irrfan next time I see him in something. I find him always entertaining in how he delivers a line, but that’s not all there is to acting. If he has a natural ability to convey dry wit in his line, he could be coasting on that rather than digging deep into the character in every film.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 1:30 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think Arijit Singh is just overdone at this point. Maybe not overrated, but just overdone to the point where no other male singers are even there. Shaan is one of the most underrated Bollywood singers (seriously, Masha Allah and Aao Milo Chale and sooo many other beautiful songs).

    Actors wise, Ranbir is hands down one of the most overrated. Shraddha Kapoor, and Parineeti Chopra are up there. Another unpopular opinion, I don’t think Alia is as phenomenal as an actress as people like to give her credit for. She’s definitely better than most, but I personally think she’s more of an intelligent star than a versatile actress. She’s great at certain roles, but I don’t really see versatility in her style of acting. If anything, I really think she deserves more praise for her intelligence in handling the industry, she’s very underappreciated for those skills.

    Underappreciated actors: Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Arshad Warsi, Varun Dhawan. Anushka Shetty and Prabhas are in my opinion, one of the best actors in the Telugu industry, but the rarely receive the credit for their acting skills. Well Anushka does, but I see her always being typecast into either the classic glamor doll or super powerful sword-fighting woman, there’s usually no in-between. Prabhas is always seen as the action hero but I really think he has more acting abilities within him that aren’t being tapped into. Arshad Warsi is just great all-round, it just sucks that we don’t see him that often. As for Varun Dhawan, he makes many “mass entertainer” style movies, but I was blown away by his performance in Badlapur. Unfortunately, he’s more known for the Salman-Govinda style roles and I see him being written away as a “mass hero”

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    • Ooo, I like your Arijit point! I like all his songs, but eventually you do get tire of his voice and there is just no other voice out there.

      Interesting point with Alia. Kalank was the first performance that really disappointed me. I felt like in some other movies she was not the best possible casting (Dear Zindagi, 2 States) but she still did well with the part. Kalank she just never seemed to connect with the character.

      Have you seen October? Varun’s performance was good again in that, but it wasn’t as impressive as Badlapur. It almost felt like he was type-cast in that too, they wanted a young feckless type so they picked Varun and leaned into his persona instead of letting him build his character from the ground up.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 7:20 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I think Rhea Kapoor is under-appreciated…her movies are dismissed and never taken seriously…but it is actually damn hard to make a light entertaining comedy…and that too with female characters…soo many things can go wrong with her movies (i.e. hypersexualization, cliched tropes, annoying women, bitchy characters)…yet she manages to strike the tone and deliver on the promised vision…

    As far as over-appreciated…Aamir Khan! His serious thinker pseudo daniel day lewis image painted by critics is overstretched…yeah he was good in a few movies…but I feel like he can only play variations of one character in every movie – morally upstanding person dishing out philosophical advice at every junction. I do enjoy his movies and appreciate his script choice…but just don’t think he is a great actor.

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    • Agree about Rhea! She has had a whole string of pleasant female lead films that turned a good profit. That’s more than any other producer in Hindi film can say. And she’s a woman too!

      In an earlier draft, I had Aamir picked out as my “overly appreciated” example. I think he is a really great actor, but he has gotten lazy, learned to lean on the accents and hairstyles and stuff instead of digging deep and feeling with the character. Dil Chahta Hai, Talaash, even Raja Hindustani, he brought out a lot of real emotion in his performances. But lately, I haven’t really seen that Aamir. And it seems like the more superficial his performances get, the more acclaim he receives.

      On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 9:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • This is so true. The general audiences seem to be easily fooled by physical transformations and gimmicks. Christian Bale and Jared Leto did it way back when, Aamir is doing it now.

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        • It’s kind of like biopics, you know someone is “acting” when they do something extra instead of just disappearing into the character.

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          • What’s interesting about biopics is that there’s a real world reference to compare the performance to, even though that shouldn’t be the main parameter for acting appraisal.
            It’s probably why a lot of actors pick biopics near Oscar season, they don’t have to build a character from scratch and merely nailing the surface level is enough for the acclaim of general audiences and voters.

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      • Even though I’m a huge Aamir fan, I agree with you. Aamir has the chop to do subtle, complex and nuanced roles like Ghulam and Talaash and he can do charmingly roguish (Dil & Mann which aren’t good but have good Aamir performances). But most of his recent films are way too reliant on tics, costumes and gimmicks. The one recent exception for me was Dangal. Even though he did the tricky gain 50 pounds thing and then lose it all and get ripped for a five second onscreen bit, he was really good playing a character who was…the same age as him in real life, what a concept.

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        • Yeah, I can think of moments in that film like the silent phone call with his daughter, where the acting was done with reaching deep and feeling an emotion, not just with wigs and accents.

          On Sun, Apr 28, 2019 at 11:07 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. I’m going out on a limb here and say that Indian actresses are uniformly better than the actors. I dislike Kalki’s cutesy mannerisms, grudgingly admit that Kangana is talented when her personality doesn’t sink her, and avoid Sunny Leone. But the rest are excellent, quite good or competent. None of them stink up the joint and their bad notices are largely undeserved. Disha Patani, for instance, was much better than her reviews in Baaghi 2 but the press, as with many actresses, focused on her looks; what she wore, how she strutted, who she was dating. Now for the actors. Their performances can be shockingly uneven. Aamir is one of the supermegas. But I agree that lately, he’s phoning it in. I’d be happy if Akshay worked less and Abishek, who was wonderful in a difficult role in Manmarziyaan, tried harder. I also agree that Ranbir overplays his roles; so does Arjun Rampal; he postures too much for me. On the South side, I try but can’t for the life of me, understand Rajinikanth fever, or Pawan Kalyan as a macho superhero, or for that matter, Jr. NTR’s fame. (Incidentally, I’m not a fan of Kaajal Aggarwal (spelling?) She works too much and gets lazy sometimes.) Now as to Irrfan Khan…come on guys; no unevenness there. He’s the real deal. Understated yes, but normal people don’t emote when they talk. We say something and a whole series of non-verbal clues, gestures, tone, eye contact, convey what we mean or are trying to hide. I saw him recently in a non-Indian film called Puzzle, I think. He was amazingly cool and genuine. Rajkumar Rao has a little of that reserve. I hope he stays away from blockbusters. I like most of the larger-than-life stars, Salman, Allu, etc. They make no pretense and are great fun to watch. Prabhas is in that category altho I also believe he’s capable of nuance. I hope to see it in Saaho. Shahrukh remains outside the fray. He’s in a class by himself.
    Wow. I just re-read this comment. I’m starting to sound like I know what I’m talking about. Knock me down, fellow DCIB’ers. I’m ready.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Why would I want to knock you down? You make really good points!

      Here’s one thing that occurs to me with your example of Disha in Baaghi 2. Tiger’s role in that movie was mostly to play “Tiger”, the cool perfect action dude that his young male fans want to emulate. It was left to Disha to play the real person, the one we could care about and worry about and feel for. Maybe that’s true in most movies? While the male lead is left to play the megastar, give the one liners and the cool action punches and so on, the female lead can quietly actually act.

      Oh, and for Rajinikanth, I had a hard time “getting” him too, but luckily one of the first movies I saw with him, and the first movie I saw of his in theaters, was an actual really good role. Check out Kabali if you haven’t yet, I think it is on Netflix even. The plot is a bit complicated, but he plays someone a little less larger than life and in a world that is a little less crazy. He started out that way, he was one of the first students at a prestigious state run acting school and began working as a villain actor in complex character driven films.

      On Sat, Apr 27, 2019 at 7:34 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Give the South guys a chance. A lot of them are talented hotties; actresses are an interesting lot, too. There are few overstuffed blowhards and the films tend to be talkie (endless dialog), the humor is too broad for my taste, and most of the English subtitles read like they were meant for another movie. But do try them.

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    • I was thinking about what you said Maria, and in my opinion there are a lot of good actresses, but the ones who are the most popular and get the best movies are overated. Alia, apart, but Parineeti is terrible, and has a new movie every few months, Shraddha also, and don’t let me start about Sonam!

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        • Have you seen Neerja yet? She is truly wonderful in that. But otherwise, I don’t think critics necessarily have treated her as a great actress, more just a fine heroine type actress. More often she gets slammed on the internet for being dim and pretty and nepotistic and stuff. Which I don’t think is fair, she tends to take roles in movies that only happen because she took the role, like Veere Di Wedding or Ek Ladki Ko Dekha to Aisa Laga, or Neerja. She is benefiting from her family, but she is using that to get movies made that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

          On Mon, Apr 29, 2019 at 7:56 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • That’s a really interesting piece, because the Western/Hollywood side of this is very different from the Indian side.

      I would guess it is all coming up now because the internet has reached a point where celebrities and critics have an equal reach.

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        • I was really surprised when I saw the details of that story. Because she did not choose the right people to attack, in any way. They are respected and experienced writers, they spend a lot more time being fair and careful about their coverage than other sites, and they have built up a warm and supportive community both among their followers and within the media world they work with. And really, just a couple hours of research into who they were and what they did would have told her that. It makes her look foolish, loses her the higher ground. I’ve lost a lot of respect for her myself. Actually, change that, I had no particular opinion on her at all before this, and now my opinion is bad. So that was a complete failure in terms of her PR, a bunch of people who never particularly thought about her before are now thinking and thinking “blech”.

          On Sun, Apr 28, 2019 at 11:11 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

  7. I actually think Katrina is not as bad as reviews say though she isn’t great. But she was good in Namastey London, she has screen presence. She’s good at playing only a certain kind of role but she’s not as bad as people say. She’s not a natural though.
    But I think Deepika is overrated, I see why she’s successful today, she made the right movie choices, but I’ve honestly never been wowed by one performance by her. Cocktail was her best and she was good in it but I think she gets too much credit. She relies a lot on a few standard expressions for each character she plays, like for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani it was looking innocent, kind of blank faced, etc. I would like to see more depth and natural progression in her expressions , they sometimes look stiff and forced. Same with Bajirao Mastani, she had a blank expression to me. And I saw a lot of reviews saying she really steals the show in Tamasha and I saw that movie on the plane and I really wasn’t that impressed, she didn’t do anything bad but nothing great either. The movie was kind of weird anyway lol. I only liked her outfits and the song with Alka Yagnik.

    I actually think Priyanka is a little underrated, not a lot but a little. I don’t know about what critics say but i mean from comments. She’s big as a celebrity but after the whole rumoured affair thing, people really started hating on her and refused to accept she’s talented (atleast comments online, I don’t know about otherwise)
    But she was actually great at the villain roles in the beginning of her career and she had screen presence, I don’t think she’s super versatile, but she’s good at more intense/ evil roles or the Dostana kind. And I thought she was the best in Bajirao Mastani.

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    • I go back and forth on Katrina. I think she is someone who really shines depending on who she is working with and what is expected of her. Have you seen the end credits making of clips from JTHJ? It’s so clear how close Yashji and Shahrukh are, barely need words to communicate. And then Kat is kind of standing off to the side awkwardly. And I feel like I’ve seen the same kind of thing with her in interviews and public appearances, if she feels safe and loved, she blossoms. But if it is awkward and unwelcoming, she shuts down.

      I’m not sure about Deepika. I really like her performance in Chennai Express and Piku and Tamasha and Love Aaj Kal. But you are making me think about if they are all kind of the same thing. She has an arresting face and is great at subtly conveying emotions, but maybe they are always kind of the same emotions?

      Priyanka is a hard one to bring into this discussion. I can’t remember her being pointed out particularly in her last few movie reviews, good or bad. I’m not really sure what the critical opinion is on her. Or even the opinion of the industry as a whole, with Ranbir for instance, everyone seems consistant about talking about him as a brilliant actor, but with Priyanka it is more about her breaking barriers and stuff than acting.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A lot of the South Indian films are REALLY macho. Not so much lately but as a rule. The heroes are center stage; the gals all snippy and superior to his consistent advances or pretend disregard, but seething with desire underneath. I think Jr. NTR and Suriya are blowhards, Pawan Kalyan, too. There are others that don’t come immediately to mind. But that notwithstanding, I adore South Indian movies and most South Indian actors.

    Like

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