Dear Huffington Post Reviewer: Slam Dilwale If You Want But Don’t Try and Patronize the Audience

When you come out of a movie theater after watching a film, typically there are two possible reactions. You may have either liked the film or disliked it. Of course, the extent of like and dislike may vary – sometimes you love a film so much that you literally beg people to go out and watch it, or a film leaves such a deep, profound impact on you that you start connecting with it at a different level altogether.

On the other side of spectrum, at times you don’t just dislike a film but rather go on to hate it wholeheartedly. You discourage people from watching the film and feel cheated yourself because your own hard-earned money is seemingly wasted. The various hues of these two reactions – like and dislike – are most natural and in fact the ultimate reward for any filmmaker in the world.

But, there’s a highly stupid third kind of reaction to movies these days where a section of the ‘evolved’ movie enthusiasts tries to patronize rest of the audiences. So, it’s not uncommon to hear verdicts like these – “I don’t understand why these people continue to watch films like Dilwale. No wonder Bollywood continues to be where it is right now and the audience would never come to know what ‘real cinema’ is.”

You can laugh off or simply scoff at this patronizing and preachy behavior of the evolved cinephile community, but the stakes go a few notches up when this kind of reactionary and black-and-white verdict is delivered by a film reviewer – who obviously wields at least some influence over people’s movie watching decisions. Therefore, I was both alarmed and outraged by this review of Dilwale on Huffington Post’s India website which went by the title ‘This Movie Sucks, And We are to Blame for its Existence’.

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First up, it does not augur well for a professional reviewer writing for a global media giant to use an Internet slang like ‘sucks’ to prove his point to the readers. It reminds me of those casual college banters where a guy using the ‘F’ word or its more crude Hindi equivalents several times would think that he has won the argument. Keeping aside my reservations against the use of slang, I really wonder what makes anyone question the sheer ‘existence of a film’. And as if it is not enough, who gives these evolved, elite saviors of cinema the right to blame the audiences for their movie choices!

You want to know why Dilwale exists. It exists because a bunch of people worked really hard to put it up together. Yes, even these rich and ugly 100-crore grossing people sweat and bleed to make their films. You didn’t like the film? Too bad – be careful about your movie choices next time around. Ask your friends to not watch the film, save your family from the horror, rant about it on social media, troll the filmmakers. BUT, do not question the intellect/decision-making ability of crores of other people who choose to watch the film and have the right to like it if they want to!

The saviours of cinema need to realize that not everyone walks into a movie theatre to achieve intellectual orgasms. Some go out there just to have fun, or just to soak up the AC, or watch their favorite star, or worse just to sleep – you have a problem? The audiences willingly go out and watch a film, pass a verdict based on the film’s merits, and in all humility we all should accept it. If Dilwale actually ‘sucks’, it will eventually sink at the box office, but, if it does not, you do not have the right to call names to people who make the film work. Because, it is Dilwale today, was Prem Ratan Dhan Payo  a few weeks back, Happy New Year last year, Ready few years back and would definitely be some other big monstrous release next year.

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Not every mediocre, below par product has to ‘suck’ and stop existing. Yes, I know it is 2015 and the audiences’ cinematic taste is evolving, but there is and will always be mediocrity around the corner. You will have to accept it the same way you accept any and every Superhero or ‘saving-the-word’ kind of garbage that is thrown at you from Hollywood. The Shettys and Khans are recycling ideas from the same old machine that Hollywood does, albeit in a much more Indian and formulaic way. Deal with it.

And lastly, I would really like to see for how long does your cerebral, evolved Bollywood survive once you take out these ‘mindless’ multi-crore grossers. Do not forget that if there is some hope now for smaller, niche films to get theatrical release, it is because production houses and corporates are ready to back them. And this backing comes from the financial cushion provided to these producers by their alternative big-budget money spinners.

So, for Heaven’s sake, let’s treat films like films and not a referendum on humanity and existentialism. The beauty of Bollywood lies in how far and diverse its all ends are – for every Tamasha there is a Nasha, for every Dilwale there is a DDLJ. The way forward lies in coexistence and letting the audiences decide for themselves – these are wise people who know how to differentiate between good and bad, mediocre and poor, profound and artificial. Live and let live.

P.S. – I watched Dilwale yesterday and found it to be a bad film. But, nowhere did I feel that my modesty had been outraged or I should start blaming people sitting in the theater for my misery. 

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8 thoughts on “Dear Huffington Post Reviewer: Slam Dilwale If You Want But Don’t Try and Patronize the Audience

  1. 1- i have not seen the film, so not commenting on the quality of the film.
    2- Can a reviewer use slang like sucks, yes i think so. Language is evolving,so is film criticism or internet writing, nothing wrong in that. Till 5 few years ago, it was considered inappropriate to start a sentence with So, but even NYT now starts a sentence with so, considering the fact youth use it and talk with sentences which start with so.We at MAM have been pretty lenient with titles of the post for that matter.
    3- If they were hard working, they would not directly lifted off scenes from American TV series, Rohit Shetty did the same thing in Chennai Express from where in he lifted of scenes from Rajnikanth starrer Muthu, not to forget the fact, this film is clearly inspired by Hum.So basically if they worked hard or in this case ripping of scenes, it is cheating audience.
    4- The problem is with genre of the movie, when the audience thinks they are going for a masala film, if they do not get, there is bound to be backlash,if all film critics or audiences hated masala films, then Baahubali would not have got a critical acclaim from critics.
    5- Bad films do not exist because of audience, it exists because stars are lazy to take risks and usually most big budget films release on holiday period and bully other films and distributors,giving people no choice. Two films released on same day, people had a choice look the ticket numbers clearly show so called superstars film do well only during holiday periods with solo release.

  2. Wow, you’re trying to sit on a wall, taking a neutral stance to say “yahaan sab kuch chalta hai”. Sab kuch nahee chalta hai mere bhai. For one simple reason: Most of the time, audience is manipulated by the big bucks who control which movies get maximum screens. Small indie movies are either never released or thrown into some rubbish early morning slot with a 450 rupee ticket price. This is not a level playing field my friend, so get over sucking upto the corporates. We need more tastemakers who call Spade a Spade, treat audience with respect and intelligence they deserve and not be treated like a favourite cashcow to fill up their box office reports. No, this audience is not being patronized. Everyone wants to be politically correct in the media to get a few Brownie points, but my friend, this is the same audience who would want to lynch beef eaters, break religious structures, kill in the name of god, language, skin colour, looks, geographical region. Please dont try to convince me once again that “the audience is not so dumb”.

  3. I don’t understand the fact that movie maker’s can embed any slang, abuse starting with ‘f’, ‘m’, ‘b’ and a critic can’t even say “Sucks” if this is the case then they really sucks. Have they taken copyrights of these words too.

  4. So you are saying that instead of writing the honest truth the reviewer should have sugar coated his words and written something like its obviously an entertainer made with a lot of sweat and blood so it deserves to exist? If you keep feeding the audience mediocre stories made glossy with star power and big buck budget and with all the hype and hoopla keep reinforcing the fact that the movie made the highest amount at the box office etc it just keeps the audience expectations really low. When stars like srk feel its safe to make a movie like Dilwale or Chennai Express that is the kind of cinema that gets a lot of hype and leverage.

    Intact it kills good cinema. Not promote it like you suggested in your article.

    Storytelling is an art. It does not have to be intellectual. But I dislike it when srk goes around the world after the release of his movie giving interviews to all the major networks around the world and stating that in India we have to keep it simple and not confuse the audience, they prefer simple non intellectual stories with something for everybody…and he always says this with the intellectual gleam in his eyes and a charming grin on his face. I get that. Obviously he is sitting with some world renowned media personalities and he and they are highly intellectual beings. So obviously he has to explain the sheer stupidity of his recent movies and so naturally its not his fault. Its the silly simple minded non intellectual Indian audience that forces him to make stupid movies. You see? In India we HAVE to keep things simple for the audience.
    We get it shahrukh. And Rohit Shetty. Like a minister also told somebody in the same intellectually superior way that he was forced to travel cattle class in a flight.
    That’s exactly what they think they all cater to. A cattle class. So they work really hard and pour sweat and blood and more than 100 crores to make simple stupid lazy uninspiring unoriginal movies for the simple cattle class.
    And why? So the cattle class can give them 300 crores plus at the box office.
    Such benevolence.

    Anyhow. If shahrukh, who I believe is a brilliant actor just trying to bullshit his way across to being the richest actor in the world, can go around the world telling people that they NEED to make movies that are simple (read that to mean stupid) for the Indian audience, I think its fair to say his recent movies suck.
    Big time.

  5. I guess what hurt everyone here is that they are being robbed the right to look down on masala movies.

    Let me know of one reviewer who uses a yardstick to review masala popular movies. All the critics thinks they are all so high-brow and will look at masala cinema as they would with realistic cinema. How can anyone question “Why did they make a movie?” Because they could and there are audiences to lap it up. Thats why. It is as if making masala cinema is stifling the making of intellectual cinema. Thank God if it is. Who wants to watch the Ship of Theseus when I can watch Drishyam

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