Journal of Indian Cinema

Vol. 1. Iss. 4 | April 2019

Film Critics Circle of India

Critic’s Choice

Amit Khanna | April 24

Somewhere in the post World War II era of print were created two distinct approaches: first and more popular was the film reviewer and the other the film critic. By and large film reviews are what appear in newspapers and magazines, radio and TV and of course now online. A recent phenomenon is social media reviews; some even typed from inside a cinema while still watching the film. Reviewers generally follow a set pattern—Give a gist of the plot (nowadays with spoiler alerts), talk broadly about the main players’ performance, make broad comments about the screenplay, cinematography, music, production design, etc. There is usually a reference to direction. Often the reputation of the creative professionals and artistes colour the review. A trend started by American publications in the late 1940s of awarding stars based on some arbitrary methodology caught on in India as well. Even now the so called ‘serious’ film critics dispense stars as some sort of personal dole.

Any criticism of artistic work is subjective and there will always be personal biases. A peculiar hang up of Indian critics of all arts is that they become all knowing arbiters of aesthetics, form and content even when their knowledge is based on a casual read of a few books and articles. Merely watching films in film festivals or week after week in cinemas and cosying up to a select group in the art circuit in media does not give anyone the authority to pass unqualified judgement on all creative efforts. Interestingly most of these purveyors of good cinema gladly land up at a star’s house for an exclusive interview (stars sell, or so say their bosses) and do puff pieces on successful film makers.


Dalits and Victimhood in Indian Film

MK Raghavendra | Apr 24

When we come to Indian cinema we find victimhood treated differently and this is true of the portrayal of Dalits as well. The tendency is to show the Dalit victim as belonging to a monolithic category transacting only with those outside. A common issue here is that of the forbidden inter-caste romance in which one of the lovers is Dalit. There are a series of films which work by this formula which, when analysed, yields the sense that ‘Dalithood’ gains significance only in relation to caste society. One does not, for instance, find romances between two Dalits from different strata which might also have been opposed. Films about Dalits appear to proceed from social preconceptions rather than unbiased observation and this is apparently because Indian cinema has not favoured mimesis.

Mimesis is a critical and philosophical term pertinent to the arts that carries a wide range of meanings – including imitation, representation, mimicry of life, and the presentation of the self. To paraphrase the general understanding of the notion, art was considered to be an imitation of the world that also allowed for individual expression, i.e.: the subjectivity of the creator of the work of art was accorded a due place. Cinema, because it begins as an imprint of reality is ideally placed to pursue mimesis…

…It is difficult to recollect an Indian film in which diversity within Dalit communities is acknowledged, so monolithic are they seen to be because of the gaze being consistently from the top. Such essentialization – although it may be the product of a ‘liberal’ outlook – is consistent with Brahminism itself, which proceeded by essentializing the jatis as varna categories and placing them within a hierarchy…

… Mimesis becomes a necessary way of portraying social conditions since it relies on observation and experience rather than apriori ‘truths’.

read ESSAY

Paper Tribute
J Mahendran     Baradwaj Rangan
Travelogue Theater Book reviews Film reviews
Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai? | Soumitra Ranade     Saibal Chatterjee
Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai? | Soumitra Ranade     Sukanya Verma
Avengers: Endgame | Anthony Russo & Joe Russo     Saibal Chatterjee
Avengers: Endgame | Anthony Russo & Joe Russo     Sukanya Verma
Avengers: Endgame | Anthony Russo & Joe Russo     Tanul Thakur
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | Michel Gondry     Rahul Desai
Gangs of Madras | CV Kumar     Baradwaj Rangan
Gunga Jumna | Nitin Bose     Jai Arjun Singh
Kalank | Abhishek Varman     Rahul Desai
Kalank | Abhishek Varman     Saibal Chatterjee
Kalank | Abhishek Varman     Saumil Gandhi
Kalank | Abhishek Varman     Sukanya Verma
Kalank | Abhishek Varman     Tanul Thakur
Kanchana 3 | Raghava Lawrence     Baradwaj Rangan
Kavaludaari | Hemanth Rao     Baradwaj Rangan
Mehandi Circus | Raju Saravanan     Baradwaj Rangan
Natpe Thunai | Parthiban Desingu     Baradwaj Rangan
No Fathers in Kashmir | Ashvin Kumar     Rahul Desai
No Fathers in Kashmir | Ashvin Kumar     Saibal Chatterjee
No Fathers in Kashmir | Ashvin Kumar     Tanul Thakur
Oru Njayarazhcha | Shyamaprasad     CS Venkiteswaran
Romeo Akbar Walter | Robbie Grewal     Rahul Desai
Romeo Akbar Walter | Robbie Grewal     Saibal Chatterjee
Super Deluxe | Thiagarajan Kumararaja     Baradwaj Rangan
Super Deluxe | Thiagarajan Kumararaja     CS Venkiteswaran
The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story | Aneesh Daniel     Tanul Thakur
The Tashkent Files | Vivek Agnihotri     Rahul Desai
The Tashkent Files | Vivek Agnihotri     Saibal Chatterjee
Thithi | Raam Reddy     MK Raghavendra
Uriyadi 2 | Vijay Kumar     Baradwaj Rangan
Watchman | Vijay     Baradwaj Rangan
Film reviews (short) Film reviews (TV /web series) Film reviews (TV /web series /netflix) Film reviews (TV /web series) Film reviews (TV /web series /netflix) Film reviews (TV /web series) Interviews
Shamya Dasgupta     Jai Arjun Singh
Features World cinema

Le Festival Des Cinémas Indiens De Toulouse

Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal is the winner of the FCCI Award for Best Debut Film at the Toulouse Indian Film Festival, France.

Baradwaj Rangan (chair), Christopher Dalton, Deepa Gahlot, Gautam Kaul, Johnson Thomas, Ratnottama Sengupta, & Utpal Datta comprised the critics jury.


Journal of Indian Cinema

Vol. 1. Iss. 01–29.

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