Chup Justifies Lynching Film Critics!
The film's script is a ‘half endorsement' of the feelings of a killer
The reaction of the young audiences in a 'theatre near me' to the new approach to tackle film critics described so graphically in the film Chup: Revenge of the Artiste was scary. Add to it the heavy downpour of rain outside and the ambience of a late evening show, the setting for a unique adventure was complete.
The premise of the film's script with the sub- title 'Revenge of the Artiste' written by, among others, Raja Sen a film critic, is half endorsement of the feelings of a killer. The killer who murders 'ignorant and biassed' film critics because according to him they are 'responsible for the failure or success of the film'.
Of course the entire police force of Mumbai, led by an inspector played by Sunny Deol calls this man a psychopath who as he puts it 'star dene walon ko star deta hai' (meaning, kills those who award 'stars').
Interestingly, even though the film is supposed to be a thriller there is no suspense about the identity of the killer as far as the audience is concerned. Dulquer Rehmaan, in a memorable performance plays a 'half-poet, half-lover' and full time flower-seller. Killing film critics in the weirdest way shown on screen is only his 'part-time job' and the script writers seem to be apologetic about this trait.
In normal day-to-day existence he is a shy florist,trying to get the attention of a budding journalist Shreya Dhanwantari. All this while Guru Dutt's immortal Jane Kya Tune Kahi plays in the background, and visuals of the original film merge effortlessly with the young lovers.
As the story running at two levels, both a normal part of Dulquer's split personality, takes us back to Guru Dutt's lyrical Kagaz Ke Phool, which was heavily panned by film critics at the time of its release, it almost justifies the punishment meted out to critics. And I tell you the audience was loving it.
There have been many films that made huge losses when they were released because the audience was not mature enough at that time. Raj Kapoor's magnum opus Mera Naam Joker made with huge passion by the biggest showman turned out to be a total disaster.
Had he not made Bobby after that, starring the sensational Dimple Kapadia making her debut against a school boy Rishi Kapoor the history of the Kapoor family would have been much different. Several other films flopped because the audience was not willing to accept the kind of theme propagated by them.
Even in a popular Hindi serial the death of the hero was so shocking for viewers who complained about it by writing letters when there was no internet. Finally the producers had to 'bring him back to life' as if he had gone into a coma.
I as a film critic myself have sometimes been shocked at the callousness of the writer. For instance, a critic of Hindustan Times had reviewed Dharam Veer in four words, "Liked Dharam Hated Veer." The film had Dharamendra and Jeetendra in the lead roles. It's another matter that Dharamveer, a typical old formula costume drama, went on to become a box office hit.
The film also shows this debate among police officers and a psychologist, played by Pooja Bhatt returning after a long time. The consensus is that with everyone today having a point of view and using social media to put it out, the value of film critics as influencers is almost over.
Which brings us to the question: how much influence do film critics have on audience choice? There is a dialogue in the film that a film does not run because of film critics but because of word of mouth publicity.
There are also allegations that film critics are "bribed by producers to give good ratings". That unfortunately is a vicious circle of which the film critic is only a minor part of a whole well-oiled marketing campaign.
I know a lot of Gen-next check the 'star rating' of hotels or resorts. or bus services and even electronic gadgets before they spend their money on it. I have also heard some of them grit their teeth saying they were looking for the film critic who gave such high rating to a 'stupid' film.
But my problem with Chup is that it gives a new dimension to the whole 'media Vs reality' fight by advocating that critics have no right to live after they write. To justify the killings they invoke the classics of late Guru Dutt because the killer is a big fan of the actor producer most of whose classics like Pyasa and Kagaz Ke Phool were considered 'too heavy' at that time and he died a sad man.
Not fair,I would say to R Balki who has come out with a directorial venture five years after he gave us Padman starring Akashaye Kumar.