The curious case of the film critic- a peep into his psyche!

The curious case of the film critic- a peep into his psyche!

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Can someone define a critic?
A person who watches and watches, trying to form an opinion about the lightnings and arrangement of 'the arena' in a strip club! Oh no.. oh yeah, may be, Yes!
I am pretty sure, I suck in phonetics, but the name 'critic' itself, rings a pretty nasty bell in your brain.  Everything which appears to rhyme with it seems to have something sinister, connected to it... Mystic, attic, hemolytic, paralytic..and er, now film critic! But as such , our man is not so dangerous! He is just some- someone who expresses a reasoned judgment of something!
Really? Whom are you kidding man?
Film critic :
"A person, who is professionally engaged in the analysis and interpretation of works of art, especially cinema!", says the Websters!  Really? so easy? professional.. analysis... interpretation.. That's all! Oh come on.. That must be dead easy- maybe like a day in the park! 
Here, a penny for your thoughts! What do you think, a film critic basically does?
"Finds fault" and "whines", the world would say! Hear it on the grapevine, its not that easy to define and its not the truth. Its, actually, 'a far cry' from what you would have simplified it as in your minds! 
On the facade, this is how, it looks like. A rich wanna-be film critic watches a sponsored movie, and writes his god-damned take on it, for which he is rewarded with money, gifts, accolades, and sometimes reprimand, rebuke and even sometimes lost of self esteem!
Oh, That was super-funny! Although I am more of a verbose person, let me tell you shortly and tersely. 'how the whole process works, at least out here in South India!
Any person who is interested and/or knowledgeable about movies and gifted with a decent vocabulary can be a movie critic ('semi-professional' is the word for us!)  After doing some pre-viewing homework, we watch the movie, for which we get paid! How? By the joy, happiness, fulfillment and pride, you all feel for us! But seriously speaking, some of us do get paid! (Payment is a luxury, rare exception which happens only for the lucky few, at the top!) Are we?  ha ha... OK, then, lets start the drill...We,
  • meditate over the exercise of watching the film.
  • appreciate all the minuscule positives of the movie in great detail
  • acknowledge the hard work and labor of the artists involved, both onscreen and off-screen
  • encourage any fresh talent/gift/aptitude and any flair for thoughtfulness and innovation
  • applaud at parts of brilliance,genius, mastery, prowess and skill, all through, if present!
  • involve our-self in the movie as much as possible, and if not possible, give our best in doing so!
  • comment honestly, without bias, on each aspect of the movie boldly, without paying heed to any external leverage
  • observe the nuances and intricacies in the screenplay and narration
  • feel sincerely for the characters shown on-screen, and try to visualize the plot, getting into the shoes of the script-writer!
  • transduce the energy from the art-form to the soul-form through 'words' 
  • detract attention from an over-hyped star, who isn't worth even an iota of it. 
  • censure anyone, who is not worthy of their presence in the film, even the maker or the film itself, if absolutely needed!
  • attack pedestrian-ism and banalities on all levels of film-making.
  • disparage excessive melodrama and unnecessary 'out of context' sentiments.
  • ruminate on the script and its loop-holes
  • denigrate any form of unintelligent and frivolous portrayal of the female lead!
  • deprecate truism and banality creeping into the narration, at any given point of time.
  • reviles, if served with absurdly ridiculous and moronic stuff 
  • carp at any form of monotony, tedium, or mediocrity in the screenplay! 
  • contemplate on the fine technical aspects and the good/bad choreography and editing styles
  • vilify the idiocy and stupidity of the script boldly, if surely necessary!
  • nit-pick at unimaginative 'run of the mill' way of story-telling, if any!
  • quibble at any instances of boredom or inanity in the script
  • observe for obvious goof-ups, logical ambiguities and loose-ends in the screenplay.
  • expound the core plot/theme to arrive at a comprehensive idea and the judgement
  • interpret, very rarely (only if necessary) the director's vision for the sake of the less attentive common man
  • deliberate on countless colliding 'words' , 'thoughts' and 'impressions' inside the head. 
  • channel all our innumerable 'trains of thought' into a cohesive hint sheet, before preparing to make a statement!
  • arbitrate on the final 'impression', the film makes, before giving the final comments.
  • reflect on the hard-hitting atmosphere, the passionate mood, or the festive feel, the film leaves behind, at the end!
  • mull over the possible impact and influence, the film as a whole, would have in career and in life!
After consolidating all the views, and statements, we do have the work of doing some post-viewing checking and finally write the column!  Thrice... first draft to second to third!
Simple eh?
And no, we don't get paid or laid much! So, aren't we helping out a lot! Helping, at the same time, entertaining!
Man, We are geniuses!
Sacrifice, .. oh yeah, Yes!
But, are we getting our due? Do u think, what all we sacrifice for you, to read our all funny engaging entertaining columns. Have a look at these:
1. We are looking out for the most silent, undisturbed part of the theater and seeing if it has the best possible sound effects in the hall, while You are busy searching for the gang, confirming participation and booking tickets!
2.After confirming the lone corner, we are busy doing the pre-viewing homework, while You are confirming the number of friends joining, checking the exact amount and messaging each one their share!
3. We gather all possible information about the film and have a look into the production details and status. Then we do some research on the team... Scout on less known information about the director's previous films to refresh, even if already known! We then Google the lead protagonists... Know what they are up to! Check on IMDB, if the film has been given an entry! We try catching up on the background score once, if available online, while You are busy gathering the gang, cracking jokes and trying to decide on the best pick-up line!
4.We get an information sheet (in Ipad) ready about the film- all of the credits, the technical crew, their previous works! Have a pen-torch and note-pad ready, just in case! As we try to imagine what kind of experience it would be, You are busy texting your friends about being in time! Some of you are updating in Facebook, some of you are complaining about the choice of the film while some others have just started getting ready!
5.We start discussing the film's credentials and production values once inside the hall! We make sure the Ipad and the pen-torch works! And then we try to change the seats, if there are over-enthusiastic teenagers around! We try keeping a Redbull in hand, in case its a late-night show, while You on entering the hall, laugh all over it! You start complaining about the non-functional air-conditioner and grumble about the creaking seat! 
6. As the film starts, we sit there, pondering, like its a prayer hall! We note down disclaimers and credits! We try to keep scenes and points in mind! We constantly try to master the art of analyzing, while enjoying! Let as much as words, pertinent to the movie flow in to your thoughts! Note in my Ipad, or just a hurried scribble! We sacrifice our joyous viewing experience as a 'what the heck', irresponsible member of the audience!, for You! While, You Have fun! Cry...chuckle.. laugh! Crack some raunchy witty jokes.. Yell and whistle at the top of your voice-box's ability, when the name of your favorite star appears on screen! Propose in the noise, to a member of the gang, if given a chance! Hold hands with your loved one, if its your only private time around. Let him/her rest on your shoulder. Tell your neighbor "the heroine is pretty!
7. At the interval, we consolidate our views and points about the movie, pre-interval! We try to loosen the plot -knots!  Write the summary of the first half in my Ipad.. Think on possible twists and turns, guess the lamest of deceptions and the most probable finale! While, you are busy munching samosa and popcorn, and gossiping to glory!
8. As the end credits roll. we sit and watch out for anything exciting popping out! We spend time in the corridors, trying to solve loose ends and contemplating the maker's possible intentions! We screaming at people, who stand and leave even before the movie is over! we decide on final key-words, comprehensive summary-lines!  Ask doubts and argue with oneself, on what could be better, and what went wrong! While You have easily taken your vehicle out already! Your care-free verdict about the movie is all about two words: worth or not!
9. After the film, the time it takes for us to come out with our first final drafts differ. Adding elements which instigate you and to sustain your interest over 600 words! Its a bit difficult, you know? And, it does involve a lot of researching, taking notes, getting first draft ready in a target time is really consuming! Then, start analyzing for wrongs, and further start making it sound professional and pleasant! This almost does the second draft! Proof-reading, getting the overlooked grammatical errors corrected and getting it counter-checked gets the third and the final draft ready. By this time, irrespective of your feelings for the movie, You are in seventh heaven, flying in your sleep in your own outer space!
10. When disagreeing readers try to give suggestions about our reviews being molded into something-more audience-friendly, it hurts a bit! But we smile.. For, we know, right! 
We all have our own tastes and sensibilities and you cant force your views into our write-ups, as much as we cant force ours into your own likes and dislikes! Happy to agree to disagree!
But, finally, seeing that  cute shining final draft- all we can feel is - pure, unadulterated happiness... And loads and loads of pride!
So as we have said about the sacrifices we are forced to do, next up in line comes all the funny kinds of people, we need to deal with, especially after the review/column goes online/gets published!
The people we meet/interact:
 We usually don't specifically address any target audience while doing a review. So it always becomes a bit complicated here! Writing a review about a rural movie to satisfy the doubts and questions of an urbane family?! and vice versa. And then,  there is this most annoying trend of asking for a thumbs-up/down from a critic! How will you feel if we, critics, ask  to tell about you, as a person, in sign language, whether you are a good person or not! That makes the situation a whole lot embarrassing, right?! But we try to join in the fun!  Unlike the way, we like to celebrate our on-screen heroes, cinema is not always black and white! Explaining to them that there are millions of grey areas in between is by itself a gargantuan task!  If we start telling our views on how a film should be seen for what it is, a piece of art, etc.. etc..,created by some hard work, then all we get are vacant stares or scorching looks! Better to stay silent in such situations!
As we keep reiterating, entertaining your audience with your choice of words and 'every time-unique' technique for a full column is not easy! And here comes that other eccentric strange problem, we have to deal with- Basically people, its simple!  There are only  three sets of audience here, at the same time - the set which has seen the film, and have made their own opinion, and the other set, which hasn't and stubbornly refuse to form any sort of an opinion, before watching! And somewhere in between these two, lies a minority set, which goes around saying "I don't giv ya  heck about the film or what you have got to say! Its a super movie because its my favorite hero/ director's movie and I am gonna destroy all negative vibes on it from the net and elsewhere! Thank you Sirs.. we do have great respects for your opinion!  
And addressing all these groups, without losing your integrity as a critic- 'that's the toughest part of the ask!' But the amount of happiness and fulfillment, it gives you - priceless!
Ok, so you are a film critic? What are you planning to do, in that? How can you make a difference?
What we can? Well, we can!
Our work is aimed at elevating the tastes of all the people, as a whole, to a level .,so towering that, only those films which touch the lofty range we keep for ourselves, can get commercial success! And that success is definitely determined 50% by media in all forms! Finally, Its all about appreciating, cheering, complimenting, but, at the same time criticizing the way 'usual' things are 'usually' done! 
So, our point is, if an artist gives a fresh modern contemporary take, to any tight exciting script; sometimes, it doesnt reach out to the audience. Because of many reasons!  Thats where the role of the critic comes in. To take new experimental and innovative art forms which blend a bit with mainstream cinema, to the public and giving them the recognition, they totally deserve! Even for people who don't understand quality and experimental cinema, if you hold them by their hands and take them around your views, showing them the difference- it makes, and the happiness,it gives, they sure will be thankful for a lifetime, with a gracious smile! And in that job of conviction, the real sincerity and prowess of the critic rests!
Mani Prabhu

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