The Ideal State as dreamed up by the film critic
I went down yesterday to the local theatre and watched an incandescent, energetic new film, packed with the visceral sort of entertainment that justifies our existence: by which here I mean both us as humans, as being capable of crafting and being awed by art so dizzyingly high, as well as our rather more limited existence as film critics, me and my brethren trudging routinely through several feet of celluloid quicksand to find rejuvenation through rare gems.
And so it is on this day, countrymen, that I choose not to speak of the fine film I watched but instead to decry the fact that they don’t come our way more often. These, then, are some disjointed thoughts about utopia as craved by the lowly critic:
# The Blacklist: Directors of irredeemably bad films shall be put on a Blacklist following three cinematic disasters in a row. Critics are rarely unanimous except when merciless, ergo only those monstrosities — Aag, Love Story 2050, Anjaana Anjaani — savaged by all and sundry will count. Directors striking out thrice will face a two-year sanction — from filmmaking or giving interviews — during which they will be forcefed a diet of films chosen by FTII graduates.
# The censoring of the Censors: With enough whimsy to make Terry Gilliam envious, our censor board routinely, inconsistently removes sex from adult films and bleeps out swearwords, while conversely remaining stubbornly pro-raunch. Despite the potential fear of all cigarettes being replaced by reefers, actors stopping shaving, and significant focus on deprivation, I hereby propose that iconoclast Anurag Kashyap chair the censor board. Ideally with a shotgun in hand.
# The Actor Project Electorate: Often is a fine actor wasted on an unworthy film. There needs to be a voting process in order to safeguard the squandering of, say, an Aamir Khan on a Ghajini, or an Irrfan Khan on a Knockout. This look at the film’s casting should be monitored on the Internet by vitriolic, vehement fanboys and film bloggers, who spend lifetimes perfecting wishlists and petitions almost exclusively read by themselves. A supplement of the Actor Project Electorate is the actor-director ban, used to keep a Paresh Rawal away from a Priyadarshan, for example.
# The Background Score Bureau: The continuing abuse of background score in our cinema is an issue this writer and his ears personally take umbrage to. I therefore suggest that a two-person team be set up to monitor background score and provide expert analysis: they declare when a scene needs a screeching violin, for example, and when it can’t possibly stay silent. The two men here should be, of course, Ram Gopal Varma and Dharmesh Darshan, and after they give in their esteemed feedback, filmmakers should be instructed to do the exact opposite.
There is much more to be emphasised and suggested — Prohibition on Pretention, The Cliché Committee, The Ministry Of Silly Scripts, for example — but let us for now consider this missive a first evocation of the way things ought to be.
I am more than aware that this is a juvenile utopia, yet one we must reach out towards. We must at least start. For the beginning is the most important part of the work.
First published Mumbai Mirror, January 26, 2011