Are film critics a threat to the cinema business? While several actors in the past have observed that film critics have been detrimental to the industry, the latest to join the list is actor Junior NTR.
Speaking at the success meet of Jai Lava Kusa, the actor said that a few film reviewers were giving "pre-judgements" about films, before even the audience could watch it.
Using a strange analogy that compares a new film to a patient in critical condition, Junior NTR went on to say, “A patient is in a critical condition. His relatives are worriedly waiting outside the emergency ward, thinking what would happen to the patient, hoping that everything goes well. But before the doctors, with years of experience can examine and determine the patient’s condition, a few strangers (Dhaarina Poye Dhaanaya lu) declare them dead. Here the patient is films, doctors are audience and the strangers are the film critics."
The actor said that such reviews were a widespread menace, which every producer and actor was facing.
“Of course it is a democracy, but the verdict should be given by the audience alone," he added.
Do reviewers have an agenda?
It must be noted that earlier, director Harish Shanker of Gabbar Singh fame, too, had slammed critics for writing negative reviews for his film DJ.
Responding to Junior NTR's comments, film critic CR Hemanth said that the actor was not talking about all film critics, but a few, who have their own agenda. He added that this shouldn’t be seen as an animosity between the actors and film critics.
“There is a lot of anxiety from filmmakers and producers, when a film releases. Reviews have a huge impact, particularly in the US and other foreign countries, where the audience heavily relies on the reviews, and unfortunately a few sections have their own agenda and they try to influence the audience with negative reviews,” he said.
Disagreeing with Junior NTR’s view and objecting to his description of reviewers as ‘Dhaarina Poye Dhaanaya lu’ (stranger on roads), film critic Mahesh Kathi said that if the audience could have an opinion about a film, why not film critics, who are also part of the audience?
“They are not aliens—reviewers and critics are also audience, they are just a better-informed audience. Several reviewers have appreciated his (Junior NTR's) performance in Jai Lava Kusa, but didn’t like the story or direction. If you can take appreciation, why not accept the flaws too. You can’t have it both ways,” he said.
Not just Tollywood
The battle between film reviewers and industry insiders is not limited to Tollywood. Actor Vishal of the Nadigar Sangam and Producers' Council, had opined that reviewers should hold off on writing reviews till the film completes three days in theatres. His views were echoed even by superstar Rajinikanth.
More recently, a Tamil YouTube film reviewer, Maran, popularly known as Blue Sattai, was severely criticised for his review of the Ajith starrer Vivegam. Responding to Maran's review, director Vijay Milton of Goli Soda fame had said that film reviewers should consider the efforts and pain of the filmmakers while reviewing films.
Earlier, before the release of Mani Ratnam's OK Kanmani, his wife and actor Suhaasini, had noted that only "qualified" people should review films. But who really decides what these qualifications are?
Responding to this, Hemanth observed that everyone who watches a film is an audience: “You can’t stop them from criticising or reviewing films. Everyone has a right to expression," he said.