Bollywood : A question of breeding and upbringing …
Last week I wrote a candid critique in this very space on a hugely hyped up film that has tanked. The point is it would have tanked whether or not anybody had written about it. That’s the nature of the beast. And that, alas, is the nature of what columnists the world over engage themselves in – it is their job to express opinions. That is what they are paid to do - express honest opinions without fear or favour. Their sole duty is towards the readers who trust them –and nobody else. This is the way the cookie crumbles – take it or leave it. Unfortunately, the current generation of Bollywood brats in their monumental arrogance and limited intelligence forget that not all journalists are purchasable commodities. And if their film is a turkey, that’s what it is going to be labeled. Those writers whose opinions in print are available for a price are called by other names, but in the interests of keeping this a polite platform, let’s just stick to ‘Hacks for Hire’. There are any number of them floating around churning out shameless p.r. reviews that come with a price tag. Nearly every write- up these days falls into this category. There are two ways for a filmmaker\actor to respond to criticism : Hit back or reflect. Hitting back is childish, petulant and gets the attacker nowhere. And here’s where one can separate the men from the boys.
When I wrote strongly about ‘Raavan’, my words were challenged, as was my response to what was being projected as a major tour de force. When I posted the same column on my blog, I received a lot of hostile comments, which is understandable. Movies are meant to arouse passions. If Mani Ratnam did read the column, or was upset by the criticism, he maintained his silence and stood by his vision without carping about a writer’s opinion. Of course, there were several other columnists\ critics who felt the same way about the film, but hello! anything in the public domain necessarily lays itself open to criticism – be it a book, play, art exhibition, musical performance. One has to take it on the chin, sulk privately, cry a little, fume away to glory… and move on. Seniors in the business realize this and rarely fall into the ‘tu tu main main’ trap. When one runs into them in public, their reaction is often frosty but civil - that’s okay. It is tacitly accepted there is nothing personal about the review.There’s no ax to grind. The filmmaker has done his\her job by making a movie, and the critic , his\hers by writing about it in an unprejudiced way. That’s where the equation begins and ends. Or should.
This is where good breeding and decent upbringing come into play. Take the Bachchans. Abhishek was slaughtered by critics recently after his ‘Raavan’ bombed. What did the young man do? Did he respond to critics by tweeting in an uncouth, rude language? Nope. He kept his cool. He had put in a lot of hard work…. too bad audiences didn’t appreciate his performance. Ditto for Aishwarya who was also given hell in print and across channels. She too didn’t go into a silly huff and crib about how mean everybody was being to her. Sure, Mr. Bachchan Sr. did talk about the strange editing and attracted his share of flack. But at no point did the Big B resort to pettiness. Ditto for the Roshans when ‘Kites’ bombed big time and the press tore into the multi- crore dud, sparing no one – not Mori, not Hritik. The Roshans took it on the chin. Seasoned professionals from such a background do not take cheap pot shots at journalists and start abusing them on assorted public platforms. Unfortunately, these days the film industry attracts all kinds of upstarts who reveal their own shabby backgrounds when they launch personal attacks on columnists. Surprisingly, even some of the newbie hot shot actresses resort to slanging matches when critics don’t automatically fall at their feet and go gaga over their looks\performance.These immature, spoilt filmi kids should take their cues from someone like a Karan Johar, who is their ultimate guru. You’ll never find this guy descending to pathetically low levels and trashing critics. His jibes and cracks are always good humoured, even when he wants to put someone in his or her place. That’s called finesse and class. By all means defend your work – but do it with panache. Or is that too much to ask of these one film wonderboys who believe they can teach the masters a thing or two?