Nivin Pauly's Mikhael, directed by Haneef Adeni and produced by Anto Joseph, opened on Friday to mixed reviews. However, the makers of the film have allegedly been trying to control negative reviews on social media by misusing the Facebook copyright policies.
Two Facebook groups which discuss films - Movie Tracker and Movie Munshi - have allegedly been blocked due to the efforts of the Mikhael promotions team in a attempt to save the film from getting negative word of mouth. This is the latest instance of the Malayalam film industry trying to silence social media groups that come out with honest reviews.
Cine Paradiso Club, one of the most vibrant groups on Facebook when it comes to Malayalam cinema discussions, has banned its members from posting anything about Mikhael - good or bad - to show their solidarity with the blocked groups.
“The Movie Tracker and Movie Munshi groups are the latest victims of movie promotion methods that suppress opinions by misusing copyright policies of Facebook. Earlier there was even an instance of blocking a group for using the word "negative" in a sentence of a movie review which was actually positive. It has become a challenge for film groups on Facebook to even discuss such movies since the movie promotion teams are not able to comprehend even a creative review,” Cinema Paradiso Club's post on the issue reads.
“The intolerant attitude of the crew of such movies to the platforms which encourage fair and elaborate reviews can’t be accepted at any cost. Under these circumstances, Cinema Paradiso Club (CPC) has taken a decision to declare solidarity with the blocked groups and also to announce its stand on the issue. No posts (be it good or bad) about the movie will be allowed in the CPC group. The reviews of the movie which have been put on the group have also been removed for the same reason,” the post says.
It further reads, “We don’t expect that such undesirable tendencies will be changed solely because of our decision. But, of course, as a discussion platform, the conversations here could very well make an impact. We are hopeful that those who follow CPC will respond to such malicious tendencies with the same vigour with which they discuss artistic values and the politics of movies.”
The move of blocking the groups has also attracted wrath from film buffs who are active on social media film platforms. Many have said that something similar happened earlier when some groups put up negative reviews on films like Aami, Ranam. Mohanlal and Villain.
"The trend was started by the crew of films like Villain, Aami, Mohanlal and Ranam. The same strategy of temporarily blocking groups and individuals who post negative reviews is now being followed by the crew of Mikhael as well. It is really funny! I don’t think anyone will even remember these movies beyond two years. But even then, the groups and individuals who assess movies honestly will be here... and they will speak out what they should.. I am showing my middle finger for this kind of derogatory act," social media user Mukesh Kumar said in a post.
Another user, Mahesh Gopal, has said, "It is better to decide to make a better movie and to work for it, rather than making a movie badly, thinking that it was good and blocking profiles of people who criticise the movie. Movies belong to the viewers once they are released. So, go and make good movies. Not all movies can be made a success simply by "pushing"."
Several posts alleging that their opinion on the film was removed allegedly by the Mikhael PR team using the Facebook copyright law, have also surfaced.