news Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 05:30
Are films art or entertainment? If they are entertainment, are they above criticism? Who can critique a film? Should it be a professional reviewer only? What about ordinary people on social media?   These are just some of the questions that Malayalam film industry, popularily known as Mollywood has been discussing in the last few months with actors up in arms over what they claim are ‘negative’ reviews, and which they believe, are harming the industry.   Popular  Malayalam cinema critic Maneesh Narayanan however, believes that the industry as a whole needs a wakeup call.     The latest in a steady line of actors and filmmakers slamming critics was Malayalam cinema’s soft-spoken and romantic hero Kunchacko Boban. Joining in the chorus, he said that those who criticize movies do not have a sense of aesthetics, respect for hard work and added that reviewers should at least show some humanity. Boban said that people often criticized films without watching, which in his view, was a crime equal to piracy.   The actor’s ire was presumably over most critics and specifically at Maneesh’s review of his movie ‘Madhura Naranga’, though he did not take names.   In June, actor Jayasurya had said that reviews were killing films instead of promoting them.   Maneesh however, rubbishes such claims. Real critique of Malayalam cinema stopped after the 1980s, he says. “After that, the media would only publish reviews to promote films, and Indiavision’s film review show Box Office was an exception to this trend,” he says.   Sreedhar Pillai, south films trade analyst and critic thinks actors and movie makers cannot run away from reviews. “Every person who has watched a movie has the right to review it, it’s the audience's right to say whether it is good or bad. In this era of social media, film makers and who ever related to a movie can't run away from review they have to accept it. Good or bad review, they should accept it," says.   Although he said that he wasn’t against criticism per se, upcoming actor Asif Ali appears to be of the view that the effort that goes into a film automatically qualifies it for concessions. In September 2014, he said that critics were often failed script writers and writers. “They should realise the team work and effort behind a film before making such observations. Are there no other means for them to get some applause?" he told The Times of India.   Maneesh however, thinks that film reviews do not actually affect the industry adversely. “In the last five years many including me have nailed down some of Dileep's movies for poor script, lane jokes and cliched plots. Though it did not affect the movie's performance in box office, it may have had an impact on him to try new new formulae," says Maneesh.   In May, actress Suhasini Manirathnam said at an event in Chennai that only eligible and experienced people should review films. “The makers of the movie, like director, cinematographer, music director etc … are experienced people so reviewers and critics should also be experienced,” she said.   Maneesh is of the view that critics can act as a bridge between the viewer and the filmmaker when the occasion calls for it. “When a new narrative started in Malayalam cinema with the release of Traffic (2011), people here were not used to such new generation films and reviews helped them to accept and enjoy it. It can also help the makers of the movie to change some factors which were criticized.”   In a recent interview to Manorama News, director Marthandan said that critics were killing his film.   “Those who review a movie should see whether they are eligible for it,” he said.    While the actors are complaining of excessive criticism, Maneesh is of the opposite view. “The majority of main stream media in Kerala still don't analyze cinema critically. Every aspect of a film (needs to be critiqued), especially when they show women in a bad light. If this is not criticized, then why should we review a movie?” he asks   “Art is to be reviewed critically, only then is it complete. Cinema is an art, but people who can't tolerate even slightly negative reviews consider cinema a commercial product. This intolerance reflects a fascist attitude as they think no one should criticize their product regardless of whether it is bad or good,” Maneesh says.   It is high time a highly self-obsessed industry realizes that external critiquing is vital to ensure good cinema thrives. Whether it involves calling out misogyny, mindless violence, bad technique or script, it is only criticism, by a professional critic or a Facebook user, which will help movies evolve.