At the movies

Tamil film critics can criticise a movie at their own risk

It is official. There will be no more “gifted” film journalists or critics in Tamil Nadu now. The Tamil Nadu Film Producers council has decided that no gifts or remuneration will be distributed during a film mahurat function, success meet, audio launch and trailer launch. Fantastic decision. What this also does is to blow the lid off the reason why many film journalists  give glowing reviews even to mediocre cinematic productions. Henceforth, only tea and snacks would be on offer. 

But lest this translate into honest reviews by these gifted critics, the council has also decided that any critic who degrades a film, actor, actress, director and producer in his/her review, will be served a `legal notice’ and won’t be allowed entry into future events organised by any member of the Council. 

In simple English, it means criticise us at your own risk because the council will then cut off the oxygen supply of information and access to the critic. 

In fact, only yesterday, the video of actor Kangna Ranaut getting into an altercation with a journalist went viral. The actor was miffed that despite interviewing her and she giving him sufficient time, he had been critical of Manikarnika.

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But who decides how much criticism is permissible and what is not? The note is unclear and vague on that. It says anyone who criticises movies and actors to a “huge extent” will not be allowed to attend “cinema-related events” in the future. “Huge extent”, one suspects, will be subjective.

What this seeks to do is to put critics out of business. Or have only friendly critiques where they say nice things about the movie, basically reducing movie reviews to an extension of film promotion. However, the flip side is that a critic who praises a movie, will now be seen by the public as a dishonest review as whether you like or dislike a movie, is largely subjective.

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The Producers Council are living in another era. What they do not realise is that on social media exists an entire crowd of movie goers who would hold forth on what they felt about the movie, without having to bother about whether the filmmaker gives them entry to an audio or trailer launch. If the real critics fall in line and indulge in polite critiques, they will only lose their credibility. And the Twitter, Instagram, Facebook critics who write well will become the new independent critics. 

Someone advise the filmmakers to instead focus their energies on not trying to manage things beyond their movie business. 

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