Saturday, August 21, 2010

Work of art: Or why I love reading Bollywood film reviews

Birds of prey
No matter what Indian filmmakers may say about Bollywood films coming of age – we all know they haven’t. They are still as silly as they come.

But here’s why it is important to keep Bollywood a going concern. Because they lead to such pricelessly funny reviews. Like this one of the latest Bollywood release in India, Lafangey Parindey (translated as “Loafer Birds”, told you silly as hell).

The thing is that if you are an intelligent person and have to review a completely absurd product, the only way you can survive the process is by developing a sense of humour. If most things about the film suck – the story, the characters, the acting, the plot development, the editing – the only way to get any joy out of the work is to make fun of it. So actually, the worse the film, the better the review.

Of course, that can happen with films elsewhere as well. Every now and then, silly British films come up that lead to incredibly funny reviews. But Bollywood film reviewers have an edge over others for three reasons.

First, they get so much more practice. After all, as is famously known, Bollywood produces more films a year than any other film industry around the world, most of them silly.

Second, everyone in the know – the reviewer, the filmmaker, and the audience – takes it for granted that sense has no place in the film. So you are relieved of any responsibility of looking for it in the film. Your sole responsibility is to make sure that the audience enjoys your review.

Third, you know that your review will have no effect whatsoever on the fate of the film.

So you are free to have as much fun with your review as you want without any kind of responsibility or ethical dilemmas. Slowly, as your skills get more honed, the reviews become works of art in themselves.

So, if I was a book publisher looking to come out with a book on Bollywood that intelligent people would enjoy – I would forget the films and focus on the reviews.

At the risk of self promotion, here are a couple of Bollywood film review that I had fun writing: Namastey London & Shaadi Se Pehle.

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