There is a critic in each and every one of us. Some of us keep this part of our character well hidden and others can’t help but let it out. A film critic can be defined as an individual who evaluates and analyses a film. In Bollywood, this summary is usually done from a journalist’s point of view, taking into account the theory of films, conventions of a South Asian culture and also adding a little spice. Spice I here you ask? Well, yes! What I mean by that, of course, is a personal “masalafied” opinion. This is probably the most important and, arguably, the most overlooked similarity between a film critic and an ordinary audience member; the presence of an opinion.
How many times have you watched a film in the cinema with your friends and come out thinking the film was average? How many times in that situation have you then had a conversation with a friend straight after exitting the big screen which went on to sway your original verdict of the film? In effect, a film critic is exactly that; someone who exerts influence. Journalistic film criticism is well-known to have the power to decide the fate of any given film what with reviews which are easily accessible and read by a huge chunk of a target audience. It’s important to understand that there are only a handful of people who go to see a movie solely for the actors starring in it. However, there are some popular actors who have the ability to bring the audiences in early on when their film releases. Having said that, ultimately, it is word of mouth and the reviews of the movie (whether personal or coming from the media) that truly go on to determine a film’s success. A bad film will not continue to be popular or be deemed a hit just because the actors starring in it are loved by the audiences. Ultimately, a film needs to offer much more than it’s star cast.
There are many examples of the audiences falling prey to bad film reviews and there will continue to be more but it’s important to take into account that a film review is, in essence, an opinion. It’s an opinion which is published and therefore, it becomes an opinion which reaches the masses. This kind of reach not only influences the audiences but also gives way to preconceptions. It is my belief that an idea which has been put into an audience member’s mind before they have watched a movie will become a reality upon viewing. In a round-about fashion, the opinion of a film review can sometimes become the opinion of an audience member because they are not viewing the film with a fresh mind but rather with preconceived ideas formed from another person’s perspective.
To conclude, I will reveal a personal stance of mine on this topic. When I know I will be watching a movie not much after it releases, I consciously make sure I don’t read any reviews beforehand. In fact, there have been times where I have only watched the trailer of a movie and not let myself be exposed to the various promotional activities the film cast take part in of which the media is always hot on during the period directly before and during the time of release. Although to some, this may seem a little extreme, I feel it is important not to have any preconceptions before watching a film myself. What I’ve learnt in this process is that my thoughts and review of any given film is then solely my own. Being a movie-buff (somewhat), I have overcome the reality that my perspective on a film will always be directly related to my ideologies and not formed from an external factor or viewpoint. This almost always brings a mixed reaction from readers and fellow cinema-goers but if every review is the same, then there would be no place for an opinion. I would urge those reading this to practice the notion of forming your own opinion, even if this means going against your most trusted source. A film which one person may deem a bore may be life-changing for another. Be real and don’t always feel you have to conform to popular opinion… that’s what I say!