How not to review movies

Screen3.jpgSo this Aditya Sinha decides that Omkara is not to his liking. Fine. That’s alright. We all have a right to not like certain movies. Not everyone has a refined taste. However, it’s when reviews like this make an appearance, that I feel like banging my head on more than just thin prefabricated walls. In today’s Delhi Edition of Hindustan Times, the reviewer decides that because an actor is on the big screen, she’s also his personal muse to bash up. (via Dhoomketu)

Violence is never funny. Especially when somebody insinuates that the violence is caused by the sexiness or naughtiness of the other. It’s your very wonderfully traditional excuse. Probably been passed down the generations. Hit women and claim it’s the twinkle in their eye that caused you to do it.

Screen5.jpgNow for the other bit. I am not very fond of Kareena Kapoor, and during her interview with Simi Garewal, experienced extreme nausea. But my dislike for Kareena Kapoor, or for that matter Esha Deol doesn’t make me mock mental illnesses and conditions. If he’s discussing her suitability for the role, why does he have to pick on the body weight of another actress. Oh no, wait! The reviewer is actually being generous in his praise. More anorexic the better for this fine gentleman. While he concedes that the actress looks demented, she apparently fares better than a contemporary. So tasteful, I tell you.

I don’t even want to get into the semiotics of his statements. The reviewer likes his women to be submissive. You know – Kareena Kapoor with her frail frame in the movie fits the stereotype. However, while raunch appeals to him, he likes to tame his shrews. Such chauvinism just makes retch. Really. More of this wonderful stuff here. I don’t care much for making an emotional argument. It’s just that this is such shoddy writing, I secretly hope he doesn’t get paid for it. (Bounce little cheque, bounce!). By the way, this is my wtf link of the month.


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0 Responses to How not to review movies

  1. megha says:

    oh. my. god.

    I have nothing more to say about this godawful review by Aditya Sinha.

    oh. my .god.


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  3. Patrix says:

    I was waiting to read this post until after I saw the movie. I just returned from watching one of the most well-made Bollywood movies in recent times and must agree that Aditya Sinha doesn’t have the fortune to have good taste in movies. I wonder why HT has him on the payroll; on the contrary, B. Rangan does an ‘Ebert’.


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  5. Jabberwock says:

    Neha: I agree that the sentences you’ve highlighted (about Bipasha-John Abraham, Kareena-Esha) are in very bad taste. But speaking as a film reviewer myself, and one who has at various times in the past succumbed to the temptation of writing a self-indulgently nasty snark review of a film I disliked, I’m a bit ambivalent about the whole thing. I think what’s happened here is: Aditya genuinely didn’t like the film, decided to write a “clever” review mainly for humour’s sake – and then went wildly and tastelessly over the top. (Again as a reviewer, I can tell you this often happens. If you watch something that just doesn’t appeal to you at all, you sometimes tell yourself, “What the heck, I’ve wasted enough time on this crap already, I’m not going to waste any more time in doing a measured, analytical review – let me just write a smart-ass piece that will offend some people and make others laugh.” I know this doesn’t sound professional – but I assure you, the most respected reviewers in the world have all done this at one time or the other. Call it human nature or whatever.)

    Another point. It’s completely understandable that you’re offended by certain passages in this piece. However, your “not everyone has a refined taste” (and Patrix’s endorsement of the same) is neither here nor there. Anyone has a right to hold any opinion about any film without having their “taste” called into question. I loved Omkara myself, but a couple of my friends (whose judgement I have a lot of respect for) thought it was overbaked and explained their reasons for thinking so very articulately. The point isn’t whether Aditya liked or disliked the film. The point is that he wrote a misguided review that ended up being more offensive than I think he intended.


  6. Jabberwock says:

    One more thing before I bugger off: Aditya isn’t a regular film reviewer. He was formerly the books page editor. Reading the review the first time around, the impression I got was of something that was written as an inside joke, mainly for the consumption of people at HT, and that almost inadvertently made it to the page. Y’know, the regular film guy isn’t available so let’s get someone else to write a funny “non-review”. Misjudgement all around.


  7. Megha: Say no more!

    Patrix: I read Rangan’s review – Fabulous!

    Jabberwock: Actually, what I meant by that line was that I may not have as refined a taste as a professional reviewer. 🙂 I humbly submit that I am not a professional in this field, and that I may end up liking something that someone who has a little more training can spot a million flaws in. I am the first to admit that my taste is hardly ever refined. I used to like Mr. India. Heh!

    My point was exactly that – that people react to movies differently. They relate to the medium and content different. But in my opinion the review was clumsy, lousy, rushed-up and lacked depth or perception. A person doesn’t need to have a well thought out argument to not like something – but he could have communicated it without revealing that he likes to spank women who are naughty or thinks he’s clever by mocking people with mental illnesses. Yup, you’re right. Misjudgement all around. I am just glad I don’t pay to read them.


  8. Anon2 says:

    Nehaji, I think Jabberwockji has already said quite eloquently the few objections I had with your post. Further, I would also like to point out this extensive Wiki article, which the said reviewer might have had in his mind when his buffalo mind was boivating about “spanking”. Whether the desire to perform semi-erotic acts with public figures acceptable or not, is an entirely a different topic.


  9. Nilu says:

    en ellarum ivlo scene podranga?

    antha Aditya enna namma Jabberwock oda mama payyana? illa nee enna Ebert oda onnu viita sithhi ponna? velaya parunga pa…


  10. Jabberwock says:

    Further to Anon2’s comment, I think it’s self-evident that the spanking being referred to is erotic spanking, not physical abuse. When was that ever in doubt?

    And Neha, sorry to go on and on, but I don’t think the reviewer was mocking mental illnesses and conditions. I think he was just mocking Esha Deol. Which everyone should do occasionally.

    P.S. From here on I insist everyone refer to me as “Jabberwockji”.


  11. Anon2: That the reviewer had eroticized spanking was never doubtful. It was the aggression that puzzled me. First you bash up her boyfriend, and in the same breath you spank her.

    I don’t want to judge what people find erotic and what they don’t – however, in my books – finding something erotic is entirely different from it becoming erotic – the latter is determined by mutual consent. He doesn’t say “And if she’s game for it, would like to spank her.”

    Jabberwockji: Actually he was insulting people with mental illnesses under the guise of mocking Esha Deol. Some of us are more sensitive about one thing or the other. For instance what if the statement had been –
    “is less [insert traditional religion stereotype] than Esha Deol”
    “is less [insert specific caste name look] than Esha Deol”
    “is less [race characteristic] than Esha Deol”
    Different things offend us. I think in India our exposure to people with mental illnesses is so low, that we don’t even consider them as people. I understand your point of view – but like I said – I found it offensive. I don’t expect anyone else to agree.


  12. Anon2 says:

    “finding something erotic is entirely different from it becoming erotic – the latter is determined by mutual consent.”

    Consent sometimes is not asked for or is taken as a given, for eros is also about transgression. If this is acceptable or not is determined more or less, based on the setting and context in which an erotic encounter takes place – an enormous range. More importantly, the intent to spank is not equal to spanking. And we well know, intent can’t be legislated.


  13. Anon2: based on the setting and context in which an erotic encounter takes place

    Precisely. Look at the context – the review of a movie. Not the fourth page of a soft-p0rn mag. There is something so trivial in the way that reviewers handle female actors. I didn’t say it was the wrong thing to do – merely, that I find it offensive. I didn’t say he should be punished for it – but I do think it reflects something far deeper. He has the right to say it – it’s just so pathetic that he has to say something like that. That’s all.


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  15. Shivam says:

    The Aditya Sinha review is more the sorta stuff that you’d expect in the Slimes of India. HT is otherwise a decent paper and I’m surprised at this.

    But Neha, you seriously don’t like Mr India anymore? It’s such a lovely movie, I can watch it any number of times! Wonder if I could write a retro review of it for HT…

    Jabberwockji: Pranaam