Bollywood films that perform really well at the box office have been mostly panned by critics.
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobaara didn't receive praise by most critics. Film analyst Rajeev Masand writes, "Characters in Hindi movies tend to be more naïve than the audience that's watching them on screen. The audience will guess early on that the most earnest cop in the unit is the traitor who's been leaking information to the bad guy."
Defying the critics OUATIMD has earned around Rs. 10.25 crore on the opening day. Not an outstanding start. But considering that Chennai Express is still running in theatres limiting the screening of this Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Imran Khan-starrer, this is a decent opening. OUATIMD also grossed Rs. 11 crore from the paid previews on Thursday (Aug 15).
SRK-starrer Chennai Express was panned by critics and labeled as a senseless-comedy. The audiences, however, seem to appreciate it and have contributed to the Rs. 100 crore it has collected. Where is the dis-connect? We explore.
The most recent example is Chennai Express. Despite being labeled as 'brainless' and by some 'not funny at all', the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer has went on to become Record Express - breaking all records for paid previews, first day collections and opening weekend earnings.
Interestingly, the audience did not seem to agree - at least, that's what the box office figures indicate. Chennai Express has earned Rs. 100.42 in domestic market in the first three days of its opening, a record previously held by Salman Khan-starrer Ek Tha Tiger that entered the Rs. 100 crore-club in 5 days.
Film analyst Raja Sen wrote, "Chennai Express is built on a simple enough bit of fluff, something that would truly have sparkled brightly in the hands of, say, an Imtiaz Ali, but something that would itself have been inherently more entertaining had Khan not been intent on looking an imbecile."
He also felt Ajay Devgn would have been a better fit for the lead, "Rohit Shetty made me feel more like a lovelorn Kajol than anybody should, and it had nothing to do with Simran: but damn, I missed Ajay Devgn."
So what is it that creates the gap between reviews and box office reports?
Film journalist Ajay Brahmatmaj says, "I believe there is some dis-connect between the critics and audience. While analysis a movie, we base our parameters on the plot-line alone, however, cinema is an experience and audience may not be looking as much for the story as for an entertaining experience."
Brahmatmaj further says, "I don't say we should appreciate non-story and non-sense comedy. We must certainly be clear about the facts in our reviews. However, we must also add few more parameters for the review so we evaluate the complete cinematic experience and do not restrict ourselves to the plot and direction."
Mayank Shekhar, however, feels that a review is a personal opinion about film and should not be treated as a yardstick for a movie. He says, "A review is not designed to reflect popular opinion. It is deeply condescending to suggest if millions of people will like (the movie)."
Moreover, Shekhar adds, "This is not just about Bollywood; even world's biggest blockbusters have been panned by critics. You cannot expect a 700-word article to influence millions of people."
Sonia Pal, film analyst agrees with Mayank Shekhar. She says, "A regular movie-buff does not pay attention to the nuances of film-making the way a critic does. The critic's job is to evaluate the expertise that has gone down in making a film. She adds, "It all boils down to the fact that audience look for entertainment while the critics' job is to evaluate a film in technical terms."
We have seen more films in the recent times that were criticised by reviewers but appreciated by the audience.
The first blockbuster of 2013, Race 2, was one of them too. The Deepika Padukone, Saif Ali Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez and John Abraham-starrer, nonetheless, went on to earn Rs. 51.35 crore in its opening weekend.
Reviewing Race 2, Anupam Chopra wrote for Hindustan Times, "Race 2 is essentially a big-budget cartoon in which coolness is all. The director duo Abbas-Mustan (this is how they credit themselves in the titles) have no pretensions about what they are making - full-on masala with a dash of revenge, a slice of heist and characters that are either strutting their chiseled bodies in slow motion or betraying each other."
Chashme Baddoor, the remake of the comic classic Chashme Buddoor by Sai Paranjpaye, was criticized all over, giving new flame to the fire of debate over whether we should remake films. Film critic Mayank Shekhar wrote, "When I watched this film, I wondered why she (Paranjpaye) hadn't filed a defamation suit or pressed even stronger charges against the filmmakers already.
Proverbially, if a work of art is indeed someone's own baby, what you see before your eyes then is relentless mauling and battering of a gentle, playful child, no less, and that lasts for over 130 minutes non-stop."
Interestingly, there have been a few films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Lootera, Raanjhanaa and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, taking the ticket windows by storm after receiving rave reviews from the critics.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was one of the most-awaited films this year. The biopic not only charmed the critics, it also took the box office by storm, scoring over Rs. 100 crore in its collections.
Mayank Shekhar wrote, " Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Rang De Basanti, 2006;Delhi 6, 2009) painstaking recreates Milkha's little known road to Rome, walking us through the chilling horrors of Partition, and mildly entertaining us with the Punjabi gent's earthy, confident persona.:"
Khalid Mohammed wrote for Deccan Chronicle, " a major, sizeable part of the outcome, 'inspired by true life' is informative, engrossing and above all, inspiring. You connect with the vagaries of Milkha Singh's emergence as a star on breaking the national record for 400 metres; get involved in his downer at the Melbourne Olympics, to be relieved by his super-successes at the Asian and Commonwealth Games."
Riding on rave reviews, the film went on smashing to the Rs. 100 crore club.
The sequel to 90s romantic superhit musical Aashiqui, Aashiqui 2, was also not received well by film analysts. The film, however, made decent collections at the box office and even entered the Rs. 100 crore club.
Panning Mohit Suri's directorial venture, Mayank Shekhar concluded his review, "Why do I always feel that a lot of such characters should be seeing therapists rather than having films made on them? If this went on for any longer, I'd need to see a shrink too."
Lootera was a surprise. Vikramaditya Motwane's second directorial venture after Udaan, Lootera was a romantic film starring Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh. It is interesting to note that most critics felt Sonakshi Sinha finally got a role that was meaty enough for her to showcase her skills she did that wonderfully.
Sarit Ray wrote for Hindustan Times, "Flaws notwithstanding, Lootera is of a standard that's inarguably higher than the Bollywood average. Here's a director to watch out for. Motwane's is yet to come."
Film critic Raja Sen wrote, "This is a film worth the grandest of larceny. The script is clearly one he (Motwane) believes in, and the film is resultantly free of false-notes."
Tamil star Dhanush made his grand Bollywood entry with Anand L Rai's Raanjhana. Not only did the movie become 100 crore-club entry for Dhanush, it also impressed the critics fairly.
Shubhra Gupta wrote for Indian Express, "Aanand L Rai, who gave us an acute, well-observed small town sensibility in his first film Tanu Weds Manu, brings the same skill sets to Raanjhanaa."
"Raanjhanaa is a love story with a huge difference that benefits no end from a clutch of exceptional performances, wrote Saibal Chatterjee, film critic, NDTV.
Praising Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Mayank Shekhar wrote, "Over an hour into this film and you're essentially convinced that this is a remake of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995). I use the word not in its sullied form - as cheap, lazy plagiarism - but as sincere, smart reinterpretation that all wonderful remakes inevitably are."
Ananya Bhattacharya (Zeenews.com) while lauding every single actor cast in the film concluded her review thus: "It is meant to be enjoyed and it does its job well. Apart from a few parts where the pace of the film drops badly, Ayan Mukherji's handiwork is a breezy, enjoyable one."
Neelabh Kashyap, student feels critics should consider their readers and the film audience as the same. He thinks stating the flaws with an art piece are fine but it should be balanced with the complete experience, skills notwithstanding.
Anindya Singh, a doctor and Bollywood buff says, "I watch cinema for sheer pleasure. It may not be the best of art pieces but then I do not spend my money for skills that is something I focus when I am in the hospital."
Bollywood fan Avinash Jha, however, differs and says the critics are right in stating the facts and flaws of a film. It keeps the critic's credentials intact, he adds.
Films are art pieces meant for sheer awe and thought-provoking for a better society. On the other hand, they are also one of most common means of entertainment for the common people. Should all films be viewed with intellectual eye-glasses? Or should each film be treated in its milieu and purpose and then reviewed? Should critics stick to the high-end parameters of the great art that cinema is or should they also take into account the complete experience and weigh them vis-a-vis a similar experiment? What do you think?
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