Bad Film Critic
Indian media seems to be swayed by one film critic, Taran Adarsh, who also writes for a site called indiafm.com. I find Mr. Adarsh's reviews rather peculiar. They seem to focus almost entirely on whether a film will draw the masses and make lots of money. That's not a reviewer's job - a good reviewer is like a wine connoisseur who helps us find and appreciate great wine. Imagine a wine connoisseur writing about wines that will draw the common masses and rejecting all the best ones as common folks won't have the good sense to appreciate it! That's the whole point of having an expert reviewer.
One may argue that people have different tastes, but so do no consumers of wine. And the wine connoisseur is supposed to have the most eclectic tastes of all. On the other hand, Mr. Adarsh's reviews look like they could have been written by someone who has not gone beyond the sophistication of a junior college student, the poor English notwithstanding.
Let's look at his latest review of Krrish on Y! India Movies. Taran seems to have a propensity towards the phrase, "xxx movie works!" or "xxx movie just doesn't work!" He writes about Krrish, "The film works, and works big time." Three of the first four paragraphs focus on the pedigree of the film and much less about the film itself. Before even beginning with the story, we're told, "In a nutshell, KRRISH is a terrifically exciting and compelling experience. Move over SUPERMAN, BATMAN and SPIDERMAN. KRRISH, the Indian superhero, has arrived!
Krishna [Hrithik Roshan] is born with magical powers -- a legacy from his father, Rohit Mehra.
Free as a bird, he runs like the wind...
Like an eagle, he soars across rivers and mountain tops...
As a lion, he conquers rugged rocks without fear..."I find this highly immature language for a serious reviewer. Upon asking my friends what they thought, I've been told it's a terrible movie - perhaps only good for children viewers. It may do great business - that has not much to do with it's quality. Great films often don't do great business.
Now, let's see what Mr. Adarsh had to say about three films I consider as hallmarks of mature Indian cinema.
From the review of Swades, he starts as usual with the pedigree and in the third paragraph, states his opinion as follows, "Unfortunately, SWADES disappoints big time. The story of SWADES would've been ideal for a documentary, but for a feature film with a running time of 3 hour plus and starring the country's biggest star, it just doesn't work." He gets cynical throughout the review and very grudgingly acknowledges some "sequences" which he then claims aren't enough to save the film.
This kind of logic is incredible coming from a leading reviewer. He seems to be entirely focused on the money-making ability of a film. What is sad is that many people might actually be influenced by his low-quality reviews and hence write off really great films. I am yet to meet someone who did not like Swades outside India - and out here, we rarely read Adarsh's reviews - we mostly go by what our friends tell us.
Let's see what he had to write about Raincoat. Here's how he begins his first paragraph, "Certain films are targeted at the festival circuit and also to win critical acclaim. The story and the execution are so abstract that you actually wonder whether an avid cinegoer of today would be able to comprehend it.
RAINCOAT is one of those films. An offbeat film on all counts, there's nothing in the film that you actually carry home once the screening has concluded. All you do is sit in the auditorium and watch two people indulge in non-stop meaningless chatter in one dingy dark room of a dilapidated house. And the conversation is so dull, drab and boring that you actually wonder what writer-director Rituparno Ghosh was trying to convey through this film.
RAINCOAT has nothing to offer: No story, no drama, not even great performances… As for entertainment, forget it!"
Anyone who makes this comment about Raincoat should really stick to watching Superman! This guy does not seem to understand good cinema at all. He does not even make a mention of O'Henry's story "The Gift of the Magi" on which it is based. I wonder if he has even read it.
Finally, with Black, he had this to say, "Fine art - an abstract one at least - might be appreciated by those who understand it. But for the common man, who does not comprehend or decipher it, it's an exercise in futility.
That's the problem with BLACK."
This is a rather specious piece of logic, one that is not only obnoxious but also highly presumptious of the audience. He even writes authoritatively, "It's definitely NOT the type that would find patronage with the vast majority of Indian audiences."
Well, it turns out that BLACK had a pretty successful run though it was slow in picking up (I wonder if his reviews contributed to it). It is quite shocking that anyone writing serious movie reviews would use CAPS - that is so immature.
To conclude, I find Adarsh's reviews not just distasteful but also in poor form. However, they do have one value - I have of late found that movies he says "won't work" are actually quite good, and those that he says are great turn out to be crappy. So, negating his statement can actually give us valuable information about the film's true quality.
Hmm.. maybe his reviews are not so useless after all.