Film criticism – Expecting more insight in film making…

In an attempt to describe and rate movies, the basic ethnicity of human instincts gets deceived very spontaneously. A film get released, hits the theaters, welcomed or rejected by audiences and then people speak about its success or failure stories. The entire routine of film making is more than what is described by the film critics in India. I wouldn’t have hesitated to name a few of them; however, a sense of gratification encapsulates my latent wishes. I am not writing this to criticize film critics in India, rather to reform the whole practice of film criticism in India. In one of my other articles in my-motion-picture, I voiced my opinion about development of authentic motion picture criticism in India and here I would like to speak some basic things about a proper film criticism. An expert observation and a comprehensive perception of the entire film should be the words of the film critic who happens to earn his living through these appraisals and excerpts.

I got filmed!
I got filmed!

If Pather Panchali marked an era in Indian film industry where potential contenders are recognized worldwide, the director of the film, Satyajit Ray should be accountable for his contribution towards the development of the film industry. Be it the Mumbai industry (Bollywood) or the prominent regional film industries in India. In one of his writings, Ray spoke about the dicey reviews and unprofessional approach of the film critics not only in India but also a few hailing from some developed countries of the world. In his words, “Since film critics repeatedly said that Pather Panchali was my best film, it naturally evoked a question in my mind; hasn’t the effect of criticism been beneficial to my art?

Long times; many a springs and autumns are wasted. We are living in 2013 and still film criticism in India is merely a profession where the so called intellectuals draw money for describing box office reports and how an item number is so high on the list of a commercial radio channel chart-buster! Pity… In terms of a promising criticism, a genuine film critic should ideally be a bridge between the film maker and the audiences. Some of the films made might not be ideal for the audiences of a particular region. Or, an adaptation from a novel might require some basic changes which should be readily accessible and reasonable to a film critic. However, the critics I read are mostly after the directors if a film fails to appeal in the first week. Similarly they praise some senseless cinemas which might see some bright opening due to the presence of a super star. I would echo Ray again and would like to request these film reviewers to drop their pens and rather establish their identity as someone from the crowd.

A film critic should have the knowledge and insight of the entire process of film making from scripting to editing. He should be clear with his sentences and descriptions which will enlighten the audiences about the pros and cons of a movie. I personally believe that a film maker or director hardly needs to know anything more about his own film. He knows where his movie excelled and what the limitations were. He, as a director has anchored the entire team to produce something that he would expect audience to relate to. In this scenario, if a critic cannot substantiate his words and describe the merits and demerits of the film, it is surely going to irritate the director. A critic, as I already mentioned, should recognize that a film is not a personal creation rather a joint venture. He should understand that a bad movie is not entirely the result of poor direction; a blockbuster is similarly a collective effort where the director should get a major share of the praise.

Black reels hurting arty Indians.The problem does not evoke a sense of emergency among the readers of this article. Accepted! But, as an audience you should also accept your money going wayward. You tend to believe reports from people who hardly connect with the art of film making. Bribes and personal endorsement from the producers ensure the box office results and then after those cold and rough three hours you have a tendency to accept the bleak prospects of a mindless film. A good movie fails to reach more audiences due to the similar reasons. How will the audience assess a movie when the preacher speaks ill of it without knowing the basic aesthetics of film making.

In this entire course of the article, I wanted to encourage new-age film students to come in front and take up the onus of describing films and its deeper implications. Film is a form of art that requires the collective effort of other artists and thus as a critic you should have the understanding of each of those sections, at least the basics. Satyajit Ray’s famous quote on his decision of making music for his films, “Ever since Two Daughters I’ve been composing my own music.” speaks vividly about the importance of a basic aptitude in all the forms of art that constitute a movie.

Motion pictures or films are almost like daughters to a director. They are nourished, fed, molded, reformed and corrected for so many reasons to be that piece of art. The art that causes tears and laughter in the theaters, that creation which demands claps and praises from the audiences and that piece of commerce which will fetch trust and money for the producer who believed in the concept of the film.  So, let film criticism evolve as an art in itself and not a duping profession that manages to draw a salary out of some dead words.

Signing off from the desk of my-motion-picture till critics rises with a new sun as the key-light of scenes and cinemas in India…

 

Advertisements

Rejection in the Oscar Awards – Yawning audiences and Duping producers!

We watch movies in theatres and now we have multiplexes to cater our pride and beat the hectic city schedules. But, have we sold our logic and reason to some unknown sheriff from a distant land or are we relentlessly poised to receive whatever trash we are subjected to? The answer to the question seems rhetorical. India produces the most number of films on this planet. However, we are yet to get congratulated by the biggest academy award in films, the Oscars! Let’s ask ourselves. Why?

India’s first ever entry to the Oscar “Mother India” got the nomination in the category of best foreign film, but lost by just one vote. After that it was a long wait of 31 years as “Salaam Bombay” by Mira Nair made it to the list of the last five. Recently, India’s interest in the Oscars was re-ignited when “Lagaan” was nominated but lost to “No Man’s Land”. I said recently to be ironical enough!

It does seem the Academy tends to favour European films with France leading the foreign language film nominations with 34 in total and having bagged nine Oscars, and Italy following with 27 nominations and 10 wins. But the Oscar has also gone to movies with people from Arab, Far East and Slavic backgrounds. Indian films never seem to have fitted the Oscar bill. Satyajit Ray, whom the Academy conferred with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” on his deathbed, never bagged a film-specific award. His “Pather Panchali” won 11 international awards, but no Oscar.

When will India represent Oscars like the ones in Europe and America?
When will India represent Oscars like the ones in Europe and America?

Ironically, Vittorio De Sica, who won two Oscars for “Shoeshine” and “The Bicycle Thief”, had deeply impacted Ray’s work. Even last year’s Oscar-nominated Iranian director Majid Majidi is a self-confessed admirer of the legendary Ray. Besides Ray, many filmmakers and an endless number of films have missed a chance at the Oscars but have gone on to join the repertoire of the finest cinema of the world. They include Jean-Luc Godard and Francoise Truffaut, masters of the French New Wave, and others like Yasujiro Ozu, Michelangelo Antonioni, Mrinal Sen, Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais, Kristov Zanussi, Robert Bresson and many more.

The other Indian to have won an Oscar is Bhanu Athaiya, well-known costume designer from Mumbai. She was jointly named for the best costume designing for Richard Attenborough’s multiple-Oscar winner “Gandhi” (1982). In 2005, filmmaker Ashvin Kumar’s “Little Terrorist” got nominated for the Academy Award in the Best Short Film category. And then in 2006, “Born into Brothels”, a documentary filmed in part by children of sex workers of Kolkata took home the golden statue.

With Indian studios churning out 1,000 films a year, it has the potential to be a film superpower. An Oscar will help in consolidating its power. But most experts say that India is simply not sending its best to the Academy. We still believe in films that make money in box office and we deprive that handful of quality motion pictures celebrating the bogus and senseless Indian films produced all round the year. Leaving a few alternate film makers who are recently making the headlines, the trend of Indian cinema never took the right decision of making and promoting better stories along with quality screenplay and splendid direction. Believe me, the jury members of the Oscar look for strong scripts with tight direction and not stories of ghosts, disabled people or a historic literature that fails to go up to the standards of Gladiator or Lord of the Rings! So, why don’t we send the right ones?

India's recent entry to the Oscars...
India’s recent entry to the Oscars…

I believe the financiers are skeptical  lest they lose this so-called commercial market and the chance of looting the audiences by showing senseless trash for a tedious 180 minutes! The answers are still resonating down your throat, come on and speak it up! India cannot be a country producing films with rain dances! We have a better appetite for movies and we will claim our rights very soon! Investigate!

Signing off from the desk of mymotionpicture, expecting disarray in the system of film-making in India…

Development of authentic motion picture criticism in India…

A heading photo!!!

A section of the audience in every movie theatre prefers to appreciate the work of the film maker keeping the flavour of the film and the message conveyed by the film in mind. They can see through the scenes of the film and read between the lines written by the writer and as the movie comes to the climax, they develop a perception about the merit of the film.

How we see Indian cinema!

In India, criticism is hardly enjoyed, forget about appreciation. A critical appreciation of a film, music piece or any other piece of art always helps an artist to improvise his skills and diminish the unforced errors… However, constructive criticism in Indian films including the regional film industries was never encouraged. The result? A hell lot of poor quality films hitting the theatres every week and our taste for quality cinema is almost breathing its last breadths.

They ruled the Industry.

 What is Cinema for  you?

If you can answer this question without thinking, you will be able to evaluate the average quality of films made in India. A country where people die of starvation and kids hardly get the opportunity of primary education produces hundreds of films worth some billion shameful currencies! India never experienced a film movement like the ones in Europe. I feel that a mass movement was required to change the obsolete and paltry ideas. The entire conception of films, movies and cinema in Europe is different from what our so-called film makers think here in India. I am not speaking about the exceptions. We treat films to be a part of our entertainment. However, we hardly look for enrichment of ideas, thoughts and culture. We merely notice the art and the artist that took the pain to design that piece of entertainment. Film critics judge the success of a movie on the basis of its box-office collection. Had we read a few articles on European movies and their thoughts post world war-2, our notion about a “good film” would have been straighter and better. We the educated section of the audience are socially and economically responsible for this mass wastage of resources. We praise trash and we pay money to those people who make these trashes.

Crowds engrossed in watching a movie...

Our culture and studies are extremely limited when it comes to critical appreciation of a movie. We can easily understand that by comparing the standards of European movies in terms of its treatment. In India, film makers used to treat a story like a stage drama enacted in-front of a Camera. I know the statement give rise to a lot of other questions as well. However, if we start comparing the movies from an era of the late 50’s to today’s date, it is quite evident that European movies were far more advanced. We are the luckier generation as we get to know the views and perception of Indian film makers like Satyajit RayRitwik Ghatak, Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Girish Kasaravalli and some others. Their works were screened in various international film festivals. They had the taste of ‘real cinema’ and also were a part of the ‘film movement’, I was speaking about. Not with the European style but their works depicted the ideas and the culture of Italian Neorealist film movement, Russian futurist movement in visual art, French Impressionist Cinema, Soviet Parallel cinema and German expressionism. They practiced their form of art in Indian cinema abiding by the philosophies and views asserted by the leaders of these movements. These people tried to explain the various shades of cinema. Indian Film Education has started to see through their ideas and statements as far as film theories and film aesthetics are concerned. Indian film movements never shifted gears and lost their goals in between seasonal turmoils in the social, political and economic scenario of our so-called independent nation.

Two film critics in an auditorium in Europe. an old picture!

If we take the courage to look what’s happening beyond the seas, in the western countries, you will sadly realize that India’s contribution to this form of art is handsomely negligible! So, are we still nagging with our rich cultural heritage designed before centuries, or, are we ready to make a significant move to ensure that the people in the generations to come acknowledge this effort with a warm ovation. However, we are still waving the flag for commercial movies high up in the sky and getting entertained with what we call a package of happiness in the weekend.

Can’t we change our views and tastes for the betterment of this form of art? Can’t we stop producers who make mindless movies and name that entertainment? The answers are still pending. Revolution has various ends and edges. I stand by class of ideas and true culture which gives us the hope of progressive life in every sense.

A mymotionpicture presentation!

Documentary on Tagore by Satyajit Ray

A documentary by Satyajit Ray on life of Ravindranath Tagore (Thakur) – the first non-European Nobel laureate (Literature, 1913). Narrated by Satyajit Ray. Some rare glimpses!

To back my last pressed document, “A tribute to Ray…“, I would like to post a documentary made by the man himself on Kobi-guru Rabindranath Tagore. His achievements in the Indian film Industry touched almost all the possible chords! Lets applause his works and compliment his visions with renewed enthusiasm!

Here goes the real documentary made by Ray…