Thursday, September 9, 2010

The rise and rise of Mayank Shekhar: Or has Sarah Palin found her literary match?

To
Mayank  Shekhar
National Cultural Editor and Chief Film Reviewer
Hindustan Times
India

Dear Mayank,

In the Wikipedia entry for Peepli Live – one of the most talked of Hindi films of late – I came across an extract from a review of the film by you: “The satire is irresistible; the subtext, compelling. And yet neither shows itself up in any form of self-seriousness. The comic writing is immaculately inspired”.

Mayank spreading knowledge - hopefully not on English
And I found myself wondering, what exactly is “self-serious”?

Perhaps, what you mean is serious.

Only, as I understand a good satire is something superficially funny but with a serious subtext. If it doesn’t have a serious subtext, then it is just a comedy not a satire. So what exactly do you mean when you say that the satire and subtext are both good, but thankfully not serious?

And what exactly is “immaculately inspired”? Now, I’ve heard of immaculate conception, but immaculate inspiration? I am still trying to figure that one out.

Now, I bear you no malice – after all, you are my Facebook friend, a friend of a friend, and best friend of a best friend, and we did have a hazy, boozy conversation at a literature festival in Mumbai several years ago. But this is what I don’t get about your rise and rise: How can you be one of the most popular film reviewers of India, the national cultural editor of one of the country’s largest selling dailies, and a winner of the Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism – when you have no concept of the English language, your primary tool of trade?

For example, here is what I don’t get about your review of another recent film, We Are Family:

The review begins with: “It’s this thing about soppy chick flicks, or afternoon soppy soap operas, if you will. The male character is destined to severe step-mom treatment. If he’s present at all, he usually has no say in his own destiny.” Err.. perhaps what you meant was “severe stepson treatment”. Step moms are usually disturbingly in control of the destinies of others.

The setting is the sanitised First World. Spaghetti's ready for supper. Aesthetics of modern, good housekeeping is established.” What exactly is “spaghetti’s ready for supper” hanging around for unless it is a quote from the film, in which case shouldn’t it be placed within quotes?

It’s just the idea that binds all these together, which is entirely outsourced from the West.” No, no Mayank, what you mean is “entirely borrowed from the West” because you cannot outsource from, you can only outsource to.

A warm, doting single mother, losing before her eyes, her life and her sweet children to fatal cancer, you can tell, is something that’ll weep any woman off her feet.” Only Mayank, in the film the mother is not losing her kids to cancer, the kids are losing their mother to cancer.

And you don’t “weep women off their feet”, you “sweep them off their feet”. Or were you punning? It is so difficult to tell.

“This cultivated suaveness is but suddenly forgone as everybody begins to simultaneously weep from the screen.” 

Now Mayank, I am trying very hard – very hard indeed – to imagine them “weeping from the screen”, but it is very difficult, let me tell you.

And then there are the mysteries of your review of another film Kites:

Your review begins with: “Two people (Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori), respectively romance another from the same family (Kangana Ranaut, Nicholas Brown), purely for the love of the money. The girl’s an illegal immigrant into the US from Mexico. The boy is the American half of various green card marriages on sale: “$1,000; honeymoon charges extra.””

Now, I’ll forget the messiness of a phrase like, “American half of various green card marriages on sale”. Let’s start with the basics - which girl and which boy? I mean, is Moli the illegal immigrant or Kangana Ranaut? Is Roshan the one half of the various green card marriages or Brown? I am confused.

The premise from hereon could take the shape of a slight comedy of deceit (Woody Allen’s Matchpoint), or follow an aggressive drama (Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley).”

A “premise” does not have continuity, Mayank, so it cannot not take shape or follow. I think, the word you were looking for was simply “story” because a story can take shape.

The said Mafiosi home belongs to one, Bob Grover (Kabir Bedi), the “owner of one of the biggest casinos in Vegas,” no less. Senators, governors etc swim under Bob’s pant pockets”.

I won’t quibble over the fact that there should be no comma following “one” because I am too busy trying to imagine people swimming under pockets. Only, I can’t. What do you mean?

No Hindi film actor ever, I suspect, has worked himself up this much to make the super-star grade.” No, no Mayank, what you mean is “worked on himself”. “Worked himself up” means gotten himself excited.

Hrithik remains the perfect foil for an action piece across the barrenness of Nevada.” No, no – “foil” means “to frustrate” or “defeat”. What you want to say is “perfect … “perfect… I don’t know. I don’t know what you want to say.

And Mayank, these are only two reviews. And I have not yet mentioned all your mixed tenses, misplaced commas and crazy syntax. You would be such an inspiration to Sarah Palin.

But come every Friday, I'll carry on with my helpful advice on your language bloopers.

Or else, I will be happy to pass on the numbers of some good English language tutors. After all, you are my Facebook friend, friend of a friend, and a best friend of a best friend. And what else are friends for?

Yours
Always ready to help
Chetna Prakash (nee Mahadik)

73 comments:

Vaibhavi said...

Wow, what complete drivel! I got a headache just reading the excerpts!

globalbabble said...

I know Vaibhavi - when initially I started reading his reviews I thought: well if the films are so meaningless, why should I carp over the reviews.

But the guy has just gone strength to strength on the basis of this drivel...

Imagine... he even won Ramnath Goenka award. I bet they never read his copy.

Anonymous said...

Mayank Shekhar's language, one that only he comprehends, should really be given its own identity. How about Manglish? It's a combination of Mayank and English and suggests that he mangles English.

globalbabble said...

What a great idea, Anonymous?? Mangilsh it is...

Deepanjana said...

Ok, first of all, someone should give YOU a medal for going through his reviews so meticulously. =D

One thing that you do have to give Mayank, however, is that he isn't one of those who gives bad movies good reviews because they're by head honchos of Bollywood. At least, I can't remember one like that but to be fair, I never followed his reviews with much diligence.

Also, unfamiliarity with English and its grammar isn't a problem particular to Mayank. This is a general malaise among Indian reviewers. This is the land of Nikhat Kazmi, not Anthony Lane. Lower your bar. Or as I heard one movie-type person say, move the bar. No, he did not specify where the bar should be moved to.

globalbabble said...

Hi jana, you see I read other reviews, I swear I did - like by taran adarsh or nikhat kazmi for that matter. And believe me they know the basics of sentence construction. They don't write particularly clever stuff or interesting stuff but they write in English. Mayank writes in manglish as one commentator above noted. It is not just a question of a mixed metaphor here or there. It is writing in a way that you think sounds clever but basically kills all meaning. I dare you to find anything in their reviews that would match the horror of "the American half of various marriages on sale". And show me that they have won an award in journalism then.

globalbabble said...

It is silly to say that he does not fear trashing stuff by big banner productions. Because what he writes is so bad that it makes little difference what he writes. I have worked in India and I know there are many far better and equally honest writers around. I think how bizarre and demeaning it must be for those working under him. I would have accepted your argument if mayank was just another film reviewer. He is not, he is the national cultural editor of a major English newspaper of India and a winner of a big award - so I think it is important that someone questions what exactly his prose is all about.

Anonymous said...

http://twitter.com/sriraamp

If you reference Mayank's reviews for Mumbai Mirror, think-throughs in those would be in stark contrast to his review for HT. I liked his work for MM (possibly the only good writer there), not at all for HT (the We Are Family review was repulsive from the get-go).

globalbabble said...

Hi anonymous,

Or maybe, Mumbai Mirror has better subeditors... if you actually correct all the grammar, remove all the unnecessary commas, join the odd phrases, connect the paragraphs, correct the metaphors - you'll find that the reviews do make some sense.

But really should so work be required on someone who is the national cultural editor of a newspaper?

Deepanjana said...

But is your point about his designation or his reviewing? Because I don't think the two are the same point. Or is it that you don't think he deserved the award? Because awards are distinctly subjective affairs, even the most respected of them. Or are you saying that the national culture editor should know his English? I agree with that completely. So far as his work in HT is concerned, I think that when he first joined, he improved it quite a bit. Since then, I think it's started slipping but once again, I have to preface this with the admission that I don't read the HT regularly.

Have to disagree with you about other reviewers. Having read a few of them since circumstances forced me to start reviewing films, I have to say that the writing is generally entirely appalling. They are also far from unbiased. You can count the good, honest writers on your fingers.

Apurv Nagpal said...

loved your article...

Anonymous said...

RE: "Hi anonymous,

Or maybe, Mumbai Mirror has better subeditors... if you actually correct all the grammar, remove all the unnecessary commas, join the odd phrases, connect the paragraphs, correct the metaphors - you'll find that the reviews do make some sense.

But really should so work be required on someone who is the national cultural editor of a newspaper?"

I'd agree to that. Being a freelancer for Mumbai Mirror, his write-ups would most definitely have been sub-edited.

Besides, I think his knowledge of cinema - not just volume of movies watched but the process behind it - is what makes him a better judge than his peers who decree ratings on entertainment value. Like the journos who write on finance for instance would be accountants who have a flair for writing. Mastering the English language is, rightly or wrongly, secondary. As a national editor, I'd pin it down to an unrivaled PR reach than actual linguistic command.

globalbabble said...

Hi Deepanjana,

I think his designation is important because it brings influence with it. Does he deserve that influence when he seems to have no grasp of what is legible and illegible in English language? After all, he is probably in charge of a lot of younger people under him and their copies and careers.

And subjectivity in awards is fine, but no one will give a batsman an award for honesty and charming personality unless he has the ability to hold the bat. And that's the level of idiocy we are talking about.

I don't have a problem with poor journalism existing - I have a problem with poor journalism being lauded, rewarded and then being presented to others as role model.

globalbabble said...

Hi Anonymous,

You must be more well versed in Manglish to be able to understand the processes of film making as explained by Mayank in his reviews - I simply found his writing illegible.

I would think knowledge of English is important for any editor of an English language daily. You don't. So we simply see things differently on that point.

Deepanjana said...

Wait, Mayank is ROLE MODEL? Come on, no matter what award he has, you're not seriously saying that with a straight face?

And yes, knowledge of English should definitely be somewhat critical to working for an English daily.


On a completely separate note, I feel like you're about to rap my knuckles when you say "deepanjana" so sternly. Very unnerving. =D

globalbabble said...

Hi Jana,

The "Deepanjana" may have come out of bewilderment rather than anger :-)

I just couldn't believe that you were asking for the bar to be lowered. And especially for someone whose background is hardly less priviledged than ours. What could possibly be his excuse other than sheer laziness and arrogance.

And I would really not like to believe that he is a role model, but you only have to see the ingratiating messages left on his facebook page to know that he is. That is how sad we are as a nation.

C
PS: Just read MS's latest on Dagangg. His "self-seriousness" continues.

Anonymous said...

RE:<<>>

Knowledge of English is definitely essential in my book too. I'm just stating the ground realities when it isn't a must while newspapers chose editors.

Ashu Mittal said...

Hi Chetna,

I must say that I just LOVED your post. Every Saturday I read Mayank's reviews in HT and feel oddly uneasy. His writing always baffles me and his short sentences with "big" words randomly thrown in are such a turn-off. I could never put a finger on what exactly it was that bothered me, so thanks for explaining it so eloquently. And I am actually glad I am not the only one who finds his writing ho-hum.

Keep writing!

globalbabble said...

Hi Ashu,

Uneasy is exactly how I felt initially, and I thought it was me - until I realised it is because he writes gibberish. He loves using big words but unfortunately doesn't bother checking their meaning - as long as it "immaculately inspired" it is good enough for him ;-)

Even if I can get one person to see through his supposed cleverness, I'd be happy!

So glad that you liked the blog post.

C

Viral said...

Hi, Chetna

I always had trouble reading MS's reviews. I am not so good at grammar, punctuations and language but good to know it wasn't me. The writer was at fault.

globalbabble said...

Hi Viral,

You are smarter than me - cause for a while, I did think it was me :-)

Anonymous said...

I think the usage of word foil could be correct because it is also used for a person or thing that makes another seem better by contrast

Anonymous said...

How is it that a national English daily has a culture editor who doesn't know his English? How does a film critic deconstruct a film if he can't construct a sentence? Welcome to the mediocre world of Indian English journalism.

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Anonymous said...

Bravo! Any J-School will be grateful for your services. Your editing is so meticulous.

That said, I have a problem with the following:

"You must be more well versed in Manglish to be able to understand the processes of film making as explained by Mayank in his reviews - I simply found his writing illegible."

I think your use of "illegible" here is incorrect. Bad handwriting is illegible but bad writing is incomprehensible, no?

globalbabble said...

agreed - my mistake :-)

KG said...

Hahaha! About time someone brought this up! I can forgive him for the the incorrect grammar and frivolous dissection of films but using cliched words/expressions for the sake of it is unpardonable. A third standard student can use certain words in an essay to impress his English teacher but Mayank has cleared that grade by now. (No?)
When someone intentionally uses certain words in a sentence, it says so much about that person (pretentious fart!).
Anyway, I hope this blog reaches out to the educated readers of this newspaper and better sense prevails.

Down with journos who're full of themselves (and shit).

- Kunal Guha
guhakunal@gmail

Nash said...

His reviews remind me of that episode in Friends when Joey picks up a dictionary and jots down a bunch of "clever" words just to sound clever.

I can't stand people like this who try so hard to seem like clever movie critics.

Kudos to you for taking the time out to bitch slap him.

Sonia said...

I think he believes the drivel he writes actually makes him seem smart.
Not sure what the dude means when he writes stuff like "The setting is the sanitised First World. Spaghetti's ready for supper. Aesthetics of modern, good housekeeping is established." And the thing is, the quality of writing in Indian media has now become so bad (don't get me started on the number of times I cringe when I see the word "loose" used where they mean "lose") that I just treat nonsensical sentences such as these as white-noise in prose and end up skimming the articles to get an idea of what they intend to say.
The bar has been “moved” I suppose! :P

Shan said...

Actually the two critics with the best vocab is definitely Bhardwaj Rangan and Raja Sen. It's a pleasure reading them after the crap from the others.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chetna,
While I do agree there is a certain amount of 'self-seriousness' in Mayank's writing style, and you may be right in pointing out a few mistakes in his style, I think you have gone overboard in your criticism, and not actually understood the context of some of the things he wrote.

For instance,
When Mayank wrote that the character is destined to 'step-mom' treatment, he was merely punning on the fact that We Are Family is an adaptation of the American film, Stepmom.

When he said, 'Spaghetti's ready for supper', he was giving an example of the sanitised First World setting: In the movie, their supper IS spaghetti! It wasn't a quote or a metaphor for something intellectual... he just described a scene from he film!

'A warm mother losing her children to cancer..', it's pretty clear that cancer is the villain the mother is losing a battle to. And not that the children have got cancer.

I could go on about the lines you have pointed and show how, in fact, you aren't reviewing him truthfully either.

And honestly, I have read your bylines in a few places, and I respect you for your writing. But I'm aghast that you could even dare compare a Taran Adarsh and a Nikhat Kazmi to MS! They are idiots!! They don't write fancy words or phrases because they don't know any! And I don't mean to offend, but if you prefer their writing to Mayank's, that would say a lot about your writing. But as I said, I have no malice because I have actually read your bylines and respect your writing. Which is why I'm quite confused why you would write this blog.

I'm no Mayank sympathiser, I just think you haven't been entirely fair. Mayank does sound pretentious at times in his reviews, but he is the only completely fair contemporary reviewer in the industry. And perhaps that's the reason he received the award over the likes of Taran Adarsh and Nikhat Kazmi. I'm sorry I can't even get over how, for a person who is criticising Mayank, you are taking their side! If you were an avid reader of reviews, you'd realise that the vocabulary of the two writers is limited to around 100 words, which they use in the same way WEEK AFTER WEEK.

For all the fair criticism about Mayank's writing, at least he is original.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chetna,
While I do agree there is a certain amount of 'self-seriousness' in Mayank's writing style, and you may be right in pointing out a few mistakes in his style, I think you have gone overboard in your criticism, and not actually understood the context of some of the things he wrote.

For instance,
When Mayank wrote that the character is destined to 'step-mom' treatment, he was merely punning on the fact that We Are Family is an adaptation of the American film, Stepmom.

When he said, 'Spaghetti's ready for supper', he was giving an example of the sanitised First World setting: In the movie, their supper IS spaghetti! It wasn't a quote or a metaphor for something intellectual... he just described a scene from he film!

'A warm mother losing her children to cancer..', it's pretty clear that cancer is the villain the mother is losing a battle to. And not that the children have got cancer.

I could go on about the lines you have pointed and show how, in fact, you aren't reviewing him truthfully either.

And honestly, I have read your bylines in a few places, and I respect you for your writing. But I'm aghast that you could even dare compare a Taran Adarsh and a Nikhat Kazmi to MS! They are idiots!! They don't write fancy words or phrases because they don't know any! And I don't mean to offend, but if you prefer their writing to Mayank's, that would say a lot about your writing. But as I said, I have no malice because I have actually read your bylines and respect your writing. Which is why I'm quite confused why you would write this blog.

I'm no Mayank sympathiser, I just think you haven't been entirely fair. Mayank does sound pretentious at times in his reviews, but he is the only completely fair contemporary reviewer in the industry. And perhaps that's the reason he received the award over the likes of Taran Adarsh and Nikhat Kazmi. I'm sorry I can't even get over how, for a person who is criticising Mayank, you are taking their side! If you were an avid reader of reviews, you'd realise that the vocabulary of the two writers is limited to around 100 words, which they use in the same way WEEK AFTER WEEK.

For all the fair criticism about Mayank's writing, at least he is original.

Reshmi Dasgupta said...

Loved your critique of the critic. The state of writing in English gets my goat too! I took the liberty of forwarding your blogpost to the Editor of Hindustan Times, a man who definitely values good writing... Mayank's writing has probably not been brought to his proverbial notice!!

garcia kafka said...

Please don't get yourself 'worked up' so much. Let me paraphrase Oscar Wilde here, Hindi movies are hardly a piece of art, ipso facto, don't expect reviews to be lapidary personified.

Please don't think of Indian Express awards as the apogee of journalism. They don't have an award for book reviewing and Harneet Singh, yes Harneet Singh who, won the best film journalism award this year.

Mayank Shekhar is no Armond White and, of late, after reading a lot of intelligent movie writing in Western magazines, Bhardwaj Rangan seems hardly like a critic in the mould of Nigel Andrews or A O Scott.

Anonymous said...

I might be completely wrong but this post comes across as one with some "hidden agenda", if I may say that. It looks like you, Chetna, have some bone to pick with Mayank. This entire post just comes across as one of those GrammarGandu tags on Twitter. And for someone who has gone through so much trouble to dissect his reviews, your writing should be absolutely perfect, wouldn't you say? Just a cursory read reveals mistakes of the nature you accuse MS of. For instance, you might be expected to know that what he wanted to say was "perfect foil to..." Look up that usage. And then there is that illegible/incomprehensible thing. And the missing/misplaced commas.

I bear no allegiance to you, Chetna, or Mayank. (I might have interacted with both of you professionally the same number of times - two or three.) But I do have a problem with this entire wave of "grammar policing" that I see around me.

prateek1385 said...

Ne'er had the opportunity to read his reviews, but wat suprises me more thn the language used, is th fact tht he ws honoured fr it!! Hahahaha.

Pablo said...

You want film reviews?

http://baradwajrangan.wordpress.com/

'Nuff said

globalbabble said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you ever find out my hidden agenda, please do let me know also. Because it seems to be too well-hidden for even me to figure out. I tried, really :-)

But I am sure you will do better than me!

While we are at it, do go through another of my posts on why my blog is not anonymous. It might inspire you to leave your name behind next time :-)

http://gebachenthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/09/anonymous-ltd_01.html

Anonymous said...

Hey Chetna,
Anyonymous1.. who wrote the looong comment with instances is different than Anyonymous2, who spoke about hidden agenda. And I, Anonymous1, can't write my name because I know MS.
Would really want to know your response to my comment.
Thanks

Boundlessdreamz said...

Excellent article. I'm the founder of reviewgang.com and due to that I read tons of reviews. Thinking about mayank shekhar reviews fill me with dread. Because unless I read it 3 times and then think for 10 minutes it is hard to come up with a sentence or phrase from his reviews that make sense.

So sometimes I take the easy way out. Look at the Dabangg reviews for example http://www.reviewgang.com/movies/85-Dabangg-Reviews ;)

But there are people who swear by Myanak Shekhar reviews. I have no idea why. His reviews are mostly fair usually on the harsh side but I know people who like his writing!! *gulp*

globalbabble said...

Dear Anonymous 1,

Since you specifically asked for my response, I'll try.

I am a writer too, so I know that we all have clever thoughts about the things we want to discuss. But once we start composing our articles, we have to see whether the clever phrases fit into the context or not.

For example, if he wanted to make a reference to the film Stepmom, he should have found the right context. In the context he uses it - comparing it to the character of Arjun Rampal - doesn't convey the right meaning.

Similarly if he wanted to convey the meaning about the setting, he should have thought of a better way to put it across than to leave a phrase - Spaghetti's Ready for Supper - somewhere randomly. After all, his review is meant to be read by people who have not seen the film. So how will they get the meaning?

But that is why writing is a tough business.

The point is, as a writer you must think of your reader. You have to think of putting your ideas across in a way that aids their understanding. And I don't see that effort in MS's writing.

Taran Adarsh and Nikhat Azmi write the same 100 words, but at least they know the meaning of those 100 words. Mayank uses a lot more words without knowing their meaning or caring about it. And I don't know who is better.

wordsmith said...

Perhaps, the copies are badly subbed...
Even a National Cultural Editor's copy is subbed (or not subbed)

Anonymous said...

Spot-on. Chap's terrible. Shows you how much mainstream papers sometimes indulge mediocrity. Tragic

Anonymous said...

To the morons who think that grammar policing is a bad thing, try to wrap your minds around this:


All characters finally discover for themselves their own awkwardly lame conclusions within enough sub-plots to pack in an entire Godfather trilogy. A state poll is the ultimate Armageddon.
-- Mayank on Rajneeti

There's a reason Mahabharat was a television series. Shyam Benegal could brilliantly adapt it around India’s corporate boardroom, only for his contained minimalism (Kalyug, 1981).
-- Mayank, aslo on Rajneeti

It's Mayank who needs to be contained. Lapidary prose is too much to hope for. But how can a newspaper allow Benegal's contained minimalism to go unchallenged?

Wordsmith, don't come to awkward lame conclusions. For once it's not the desk's fault. Many on the desk at Mumbai Mirror used to cringe at the lines in the review but were given instructions not to touch anything. Only a spell check was allowed. Thank god for that.

Yet Another Anonymous said...

I wonder Chetna, if since you are in London, you could take the time to watch a movie called Pavee Lackeen and review it.

I've been having fun reading your blog partly because of cultural differences, and the movie I mention above is about cultural differences in Ireland. I am very curious what you would see in this film.

Anonymous said...

OK - I started reading your piece in hope and amusement, but ended up feeling a little embarrassed for you and disappointed for myself.

Given, Mayank Shekhar is extremely lazy with sentence construction and, in the hope of seeming clever or maybe just educated in culture studies at some American university, he uses too many vague words to say too little.

But as various other (or maybe just one) anonymouses have pointed out below - maybe your own knowledge of English should be unassailable, or at least pretty good, before you use that as the basis of criticising someone else. So the puns/references wrt Step-mom (which is not wrong because we don't say step-son treatment, we say stepmotherly treatment i.e., treating as a stepmother might, not being treated as a stepson might be) and weep a woman off her feet (yes, he's punning, it's not that hard to tell, so even if your comment's a kind of mock ignorance, and even if you hate it, well...) don't bolster your argument.

As for the world "foil" check definition 3 under noun
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foil

There is a huge problem with writings on film in India and sharp feedback might help it improve - so it's very necessary. Mayank Shekhar is not without insight as a film writer, when he bothers to take his reviews seriously, which seems seldom, but it's certainly true that he has failed to evolve the style he seems to be reaching for: a mixture of colloquialism and jargon arriving instead at a style that resembles a happy drunk driving a car zig zag in zipping traffic. He should be called on it, and there should be critique that makes him do better or make way for those who can do better.

But that critique would be best and most usefully done by someone a bit more solid in their relationship with language and ability to understand what people are attempting with language (even if they fail) - or at least the diligence to check on all the supposed problem usages. Not having demonstrated either, you might end up seeming guilty of something similar to Mayank Shekhar.

Of course it's a free world, at least for those who speak English, so I guess beyond a point you and he are free to write what you want, how you want. I'm just saying...

globalbabble said...

Hi Anonymous (3?),

Sorry to have disappointed you. Just as well that I am not applying for MS's job, right :-)

Next time leave a name. I don't bite - yet!

C

Anonymous said...

Good one Chetna,serves him right...someone needs to do this to him and I really do hope it reaches his ears...

Also,I wonder why newspapers even bother taking his rubbish reviews.The last movie he gave a decent revw for was -peepli live and that too seemed as if he's doing a favour by being kind to the film makers.

jaimit said...

wow. the comments are more interesting than the main course. i am tempted to give my two bit as well - i do not know enough grammar to have issues with it. My issue sare different. reviews should be about the movie and not about the english. as a reader i prefer simple english where the point is made clear. it is a mainstream newspaper. simple honest writing with out sounding too clever is what is required.
if you want to be clever then a blog or possibly a specilised mag or anywhere else is the right place for it. but....
i agree with GB that review has incomprehensible stuff thrown in and i love the white noise comment as well. i did not realise it, but i too end up filtering out the white noise.

Anonymous said...

Good writing in Indian English papers is went, don't you know. What this is is clever writing, stylish, full of knowing nudges, with a few popular culture phrases and references to obscure films thrown in. This guy doesn't know his English from his movies, but because he sounds so blurry clever, his newspaper will not discard him.

Anonymous said...

Ok i don't know what movie you are talking about, but your English just made me roll on the floor and laugh.

Prateek said...

Nice piece. While I do agree with some of the things 'the anonymous clan' said. Most of your points stick. Especially liked the way you gave it back to them. Subtle and deadly!

Anonymous said...

very interesting......his writing is a landmine of blunders. i am so GLAD
people are pointing out these things...

Anonymous said...

Chetna, so what if you made a few errors? At least you posted all the comments, positive and negative, and took the criticism on the chin. And pointing out erroneous commas is nitpicking. Bully for you, girl.

Noname said...

Someone really needed to do this, thank you!

Anonymous said...

he takes himself far too self-seriously i think... thank you for crying out 'naked!' to the prancing, papier-mache crown wearing tomb brained critical emperor... (ps my grammar is terrible too i know... but im not writing in the paper your paying to read no? so forgive, forgive)

achu said...

i thought i was the only one who saw through his drivel some years back when he was still writing for mid-day and i used to frequent the same sandwich guy as him at Chinchpokli. then i realized a few others had, then the indo-american award happened, the BCouncil award happened, some other channel awards happened, and we were wondering if we were the ones who missed the point. maybe this guy knew his "cinema" and we were only watching fillums. but hooray! there are 56 posts here that more or else agree to your views and we find ourselves not alone in this universe. well written friend.

Normal English Speaking Person said...

too much english in the blog and comments for me to handle. someone get me crocin. :p

globalbabble said...

From Normal English Speaking Person - I'll accept that :-)

Gurdeep said...

well, first of all, Mayank's one of the first plan was to become a actor and when no one selected him, he realized that in which other way he can trash the movies, even the good ones, so he decided to become a writer or editor, and the similar thing about this is that there is "tor" in both editor and actor. :-)) just f$%kin with ya.

param said...

oh my god!! i have been meaning to write to HT to please stop bombarding us with these trashy reviews every Friday and as a temporary solution i had stopped reading them and googled anupama chopra and rajeev masand.

though im not a big fan of bollywood movies myself i need my occasional doze of the "latka jhtaka" but this guy just trashes any movie which comes along. i dont know why he wants to burden everybody with his point of view instead of doing his job of giving a balanced review

Anonymous said...

You realize you sound bitter because you couldn't get the job he has right? The fact that he won the President's award (and not you) really irks you, doesn't it.

Honestly, the only person in the world who'd sit and spend this much time compiling this post -- is most likely to be a jealous, bitter journalist.

Also, you've taken all these reviews from the web. Given that you've worked at Time Out you realize how text gets mangled when moved from paper form to the web. Almost all the errors you point to, are the fault of a bad copy editor -- not really a bad writer. But you sound like someone with a vengeance, so I'll leave you to your ways.

globalbabble said...

Hi there,

No, I must say that nothing that I wrote on paper for Time Out was mangled when moved from paper to the web. And I have read enough of Shekhar's reviews on paper to know that he writes as badly on paper as on the web.

And by the way, here is why I never leave anonymous comments on the web - http://gebachenthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/09/anonymous-ltd_01.html

Huan said...

I have read only one of his reviews, the one he did for a recent movie 'Faltu' for HT. I swear to god, i was so irritated by this man's attitude only, substance lacking writing approach to the review that i had to crap all over the comments section just to get my frustration out.
The problem in our country, and in many other countries is that often only the most undeserving people enjoy the best opportunities. I wonder how they sleep in nights knowing how fake and useless they are. And not only that, most probably they are a snatching opportunities from much more deserving people.

Pessimist Fool said...

Hi, an amazing piece on crap, which journalists have been producing in India for last few decades. You do have the patience to go through it.

Anonymous said...

This makes for a very, very interesting read. Please continue. Thanks...

Man on the moon said...

And then out of the blue, I came across yet another gem by the man, http://www.hindustantimes.com/Entertainment/Reviews/Mayank-Shekhar-s-review-Rockstar/Article1-767832.aspx

aftershock said...

This is serious BS. It is appalling that people like these really make it to the top of the industry, making complete mockery of India.

The positive side, I did learn something about the English language and I want to thank you for it. :)

Keep up the good work. Wonder what Mr Shekhar has to say about all this. :)

globalbabble said...

Well, what I can say is that after this blog - they started proofreading his reviews... so much good did come out of it ;-)

Push Vs Pull said...

I think you have a valid point somewhere.

Seems like you were offended by some of his comment when you met this chap in Bombay for the literature festival years ago.

Anyway, I agree to the fact that such reviewers get awards and stuff, if the jury had read your blog he perhaps might have not got Ramnath Goenka Award for his “immaculately inspired" review.

;-)

PS: Pls don't bite me, I'm nice!

Gautam Patel said...

Finally. Someone takes apart this insufferable bore, this pretender. I don't know what bothers me more, that he's such a stranger to anything remotely resembling language or his total ignorance of film. Well done. Very well done.

The Sorcerer said...

Oh this is nothing compared to tech reviewers (I do tech reviews and planning to do a regular youtube show thing. They use words that I never even heard of- no1 heard of. There was this one time a Taiwan RnD guy came and I asking series of question so this journo guy out of nowhere asked a question which technically answered his own question (and it was right).

And there was this time they released a very VERY slim external storage drive: no1 clicked the photo of the drive. So another blogger jokes that rather than the model holding it in the hand and putting it in her purchase, but if she puts it in her back jeans pocket that will make people get up and take pictures. A PR did listen and she told the model to do it- AND it worked. 3-5 mainstream media guys were like going infront with their bulky (and very old, abused and i am sure its a second hand...its a 350D) DSLRs and flash guns and they were actually taking pictures....of her ass.

Another funny thing is how 1 camera man disses another. Now that even prosumer cameras take good enough photos, so it makes sense to pick them because its not bulky and light- but other guys are like "move out of the way- I HAVE A DSLR!" And it happened to me I was like "wtf!".

Its a filled with very VERY funny people.

ComfortablyNumb said...

Hahahaha awesome stuff. I don't know how much of his "writing" (I use that word in the loosest sense possible) you've been through, but if you open up the Mayank Shekhar archive, it can make for some rip-roaring reading.

I remember some of his reviews making absolutely no sense from first to last word - from a couple of years ago - whereas now they're quite okay (disappointingly!) Hmm, must find the archive and reproduce - do a legend of the Shekhar!