Film Criticism : Love it or loathe it but you can’t ignore it

How many times has it happened that you wanted to watch a movie or web series because it looked promising enough to entertain you from its promos,trailers and songs but suddenly after a point of time rather a few days or even hours post its release you decide to give it a miss?

I guess it might have happened with many of you maybe  because of professional or personal reasons but often the people who try reading and keeping themselves updated or are excited for the release of a particular movie or those who always keep an eye on the pre-release buzz.Sometimes despite it  not being strong enough you are still consistent to watch the movie but even a single review or spoiler is enough to break your curiosity many a times after you read a movie review or come across an article or video that throws light on “Film Criticism”.

Yes,you may love it,hate it,but sometimes can’t ignore it.Now you might wonder why I am using the phrase sometimes that’s because we don’t pay heed to it when its our favourite actor’s or actress movie(which is certainly a bitter truth)but are when its not.

Definition of Film Criticism :

To simplify it can also be more or less said that movie reviews be it for bollywood or tollywood or any regional movie is a narrow concept and analysis in contrast to film criticism that focuses on analyzing in-depths of a film and churning out what message or value is a particular scene adding to the film as a final product.

History of Film Criticism :

Well,reading history could be boring for many but interesting for some but I personally think to a large extent it depends upon the concept or person about whom the discussion is all about. So without making you bore and exhausted I will try to cover some crucial points about the history of film criticism.

Criticism has been in inception since very long rather it can be said as an ancient art form. Just like stories have always been written and people who read them always had their opinions about it and to put them forward in the public domain they used to write it This eventually helped the authors,writers and thinkers gain ideas on ho stories should be written and story telling should be conducted.

Similarly, as far as film criticism is concerned it has been into inception ever since 1900s when the first silent film Raja Harishchandra released on May 3,1903 and early reviewers and film critics would see this as an opportunity to venture in the film industry and get some jobs in the film making process as a screenwriter,cinematographer, director, writer etc. and if not that it would help them in starting off their career as a journalist.

That’s something that hasn’t been in practice ever since and many film schools and institutes have now introduced this as a part of their syllabus and curriculum really changed over the last century, as it is just as prevalent now for film school students to blog about their career exploits and cinematic musings online in order to increase their chances of being noticed.

Best books on film criticism:

Well books have always been an powerful instrument in shaping’s one mind and personality although practical implications of concepts learned or read in the book is necessary for progress in the real world.But since film criticism is a profession and different film critics  and journalist have been active in the industry from almost a decade so there definitely are some books recommended by them :

I Hated, Hated, HATED This Movie by Roger Ebert

Murder and the Movies by David Thomson

What is Cinema? by André Bazin

Movies That Mattered: More Reviews from a Transformative Decade by Dave Kehr

best books on film criticism
Best Books on film criticism
Full time or crash courses on film criticism :

In the competitive world there are daily courses be it online and offline continously being launched and hence courses teaching film criticism and analysis,direction,cinematography have been introduced by many institutes and entertainment portals.

Here I would like to mention names of some film schools,institutes and even entertainment portals :

  1. Actor Prepares :

A film school known for teaching acting and various other aspects of film making such as screenwriting,acting,theatre based in Mumbai. Led by the most talented and best actor of the hindi cinema Mr.Anupam Kher who has worked in over 500 films and numerous plays.Some notable alumni of this institute are : Abhishek Bachchan,Hrithik Roshan,Deepika Padukone,Varun Dhawan and to know more about their courses you can click on the highlighted term.

2. Film Companion :

An entertainment portal run by one of the most popular film critic Mrs. Anupama Chopra who hails from the industry and is the wife of film producer and director Vidhu Vinod Chopra.She has been into film journalism and film criticism ever since the 1990s and is quite impressive with her way of presenting and writing movie reviews.Through her entertainment portal one can except a hell lot of knowledge about movies and other aspects of film-making and also movie reviews of almost each and every film irrespective of it being regional cinema or hollywood. To know more about the portal click on the highlighted term.

3. Rajeev Masand :

Rajeev Masand is also an renowned film critic and has been active as long as Anupama Chopra.He is known to be a saviour and at the same time provides good recommendations for movies depending upon how good or bad they are.Well,I have to mention hearing their reviews can be a crash course on English literature(Hilarious indeed but yes its true).

P.S. I would love and work hard to present my reviews with the same diction and vocabulary like them

4. Palat Tera Dhyan Kidhar Hai :

This is a youtube channel which is also lead by a journalist cum film critic Sahil Chandel. I have been following this guy and his way of presenting movie reviews from couples of years and haven’t found any other reviewer better than him as far as Youtube is concerned.His analysis and knowledge of camera work and almost every aspect of film-making is so rich that he can himself direct a movie.Click on his name to visit his channel and I am sure you would love his work.

Although film criticism is more or less a part of journalism(although it isn’t entirely) but its very true that one needs to have a hands on experience of film making or cinematography or any of the aspects of film making.The reason I think so is because many a times they suck at their job and unnecessarily criticize an actor just because they have some personal and ego issues with them.

Here I would like to share an opinion of superstar Akshay Kumar who back in 2012 while promoting one of his films in an interview said that the film critics in the industry are not someone who have any hands on experience in film-making or editing or screenwriting rather they are just journalists who are sometimes forced to write for a film and given Rs.100 to buy a ticket at the producer’s expense and forcibly given a pen and paper to just scribble and write whatever he can and hence he has no rights to judge any actor or film-maker.Unlike cricket here the critics are Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Navjot Singh Sidhu,Sunil Gavaskar etc.etc. who have themselves played cricket and are able enough to analyse the pitch-conditions and a cricketer’s form before the match starts and make up for an almost correct predictions for majority of the time.

Why film criticism is important ?

Yes,its obvious to have raised this question that when people or the audience prefer watching films based on their favourite actors then why is there a need of film criticism. Well,nowadays it is often alleged that certain crtitics are sold out,biased,paid,promotes favouritism and what not(I won’t be naming any even though I know a few) but still knowingly or unknowingly people prefer reading or atleast checking out reviews.

The reason is because since film criticism involves proper analysis of each and every department of the film and sometimes even technical aspects so all these aspects combined make people clear about how actually the final product is.From Cinematography to Direction,Acting to Dialogues,Songs to Background music everything is responsible for a film’s success and hence film criticism seems important then . Since there are more than 500 films released every year so it becomes obvious and necessary for films to have different storylines and different ways of mixing and presenting elements such as fun,humour,sad.anger,jealousy and betrayal and the way or art of presenting is covered under the umbrella of film making which were afore-mentioned.

Whether you agree or disagree but there are people who don’t watch a film just for laughing and guffawing and many a times there are films which despite not having a great story still make a good,compelling and engaging watch just because of their screenplay,cinematography or direction.Hence I feel film criticism many a times prove a mirror for these kind of people and might make them cautious of the film they are planning to watch pretending it to be full of jokes and stunts even though when it is not of that genre at the first place.

Relevance of film criticism in the digital age :

There is no denying to the fact that digital content,OTT content,web series have made a special place in people’s mind and is the new normal entertainment and I already have briefly covered this in my previous article. Now if we talk about film criticism we can see that renowned and popular critics such as Rajeev Masand,Anupama Chopra,Sucharita Tyagi,Komal Nahta,Taran Adarsh etc.etc. are known for selective reviewing when it comes to web series(Mirzapur,Sacred Games,The Family Man,Scam 1992 to name a few).The reason of which I presume is web series or OTT content despite becoming the new normal slowly is still not comfortable or has become habitual for many people to watch especially with their families(some exceptions which I personally recommend is Gullak (Sony LIV),Yeh Meri Family(Netflix) unlike movies which many of them can be watched.

film criticism in the digital age
Film Criticism in the digital age

Yes,web series are still characterized or regarded as an adult entertainment because majority of them consists of abusive language,vulgar scenes,offensive scenes disrespecting any community or religion.Instead,I would say the absence of fear and freedom of not being under censorship gives liberty to the makers to delibarately put scenes consisting of offensive and abusive language and scenes.

But yes coming back to criticism I can say that a 8-10 or sometimes 12 -13 episodes series is many a times tedious and complex and not every technical aspects such as camera work,background music,performances of each and every actor/actress can be properly analysed and studied.Moreover,watching a 8-10 hr long web series is quite time consuming and many a times the makers delibarately take the story to an unusual direction which many a times doesn’t reach the climax in the first season and hence subsequent seasons are time and again produced and created.

Hence that very much sums up how film criticism in the digital age sometimes doesn’t seem to be relevant but yes,there are reviewers on youtube and IGTV who have made it possible to review more and more OTT content and serve their audience in the easiest manner possible.

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