My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘YouTube

I grew up predominantly in the 90’s. My early tryst with movie reviews were through newspapers. We lived in Chennai and Hindu’s Friday feature was the only way to get a movie review at least till mid-90’s before satellite TV took over. Even though there were movie reviews in print in the 80’s & 90’s people went to the theatres solely based on either the cast or the director. Tamil cinema is one of the few industries where directors have the same pull as the actors. For example in 70’s & 80’s K Balachander, Mahendran, Balu Mahendra & Barathiraja had their own following and people will flock to theatres just to see their films. Even when movie reviews were prevalent in the print media in the 80’s word of mouth was still the preferred way of people finding out about the quality of a movie.

For example when a Rajini film released no one cared about reviews, you will see people standing in long queues to watch a film. Same with Kamal Hassan and other big stars. Once the first few shows were over, the audience talk will what will decide the fate of a film. Things have changed drastically over the past decade and with the advent of social media reviews are almost instant. While the audience post their reviews on Twitter while watching the film, there are 100’s of YouTube channels reviewing the movies as well. To be frank I have lots of respect for people who have their own YouTube channels. It takes courage to put yourself out there and talk about anything. There are a few creative channels while most of them are either reaction channels or movie review channels.

There are a few professional ones working for famous publications while others who have garnered subscribers through their content. I have no way of knowing credentials of any of these so called “Film experts” by just looking at their content though. It is very important for anyone who is reaching out to a large audience to understand that movie reviews are basically personal opinions. Something the experts these days seem to have forgotten. The popularity of their channel or the subscribers they have seems to have completely gotten to their head which makes for some cringe movie reviews. As a consumer of such reviews, the only thing I want to see is what the reviewer thinks about the film, what he/she likes or dislikes about the movie. I am not there to see some agenda driven rant or the reviewers trying to show off their knowledge of film making. As a common man I care a damn about some of the content of the reviews as it does not matter to me.

Also as a reviewer you need to steer clear of generalising. Everyone has the right to say they don’t like the movie but they cannot be under the illusion that they speak for others. The reason these “experts” have a huge following is because people actually respect their opinions. When that happens it also becomes the responsibility of the reviewers to stay balanced when they review the movies. Using their popularity to further their agenda or someone else’s agenda isn’t very ethical and that is the reason I steer clear of few of these channels these days.

The other irritating part about these YouTube channels is that they go looking for controversy as soon as some update on a movies comes about. A film releases it’s first single or a look or a teaser they immediately go on the streets with a mic and a camera asking people on the streets their review. Reviewing a movie is a tough art and being balanced is even tougher. I have hardly seen a few reviewers who give their opinion and let the audience make a call whether they would like to watch a film. That’s how it should be as trying to influence the audience is not why you review a movie.

The one thing everyone needs to understand is that there is nothing called a perfect film. A movie which is perfect for someone might not be for someone else. A film succeeds because there is something which keeps the viewers entertained throughout its runtime. That is exactly what the audience wants. Most of the reviews these days feel like they come right out of a film school. While it is good to show off your knowledge of film making, I feel that should be in a separate video and not in the review itself.

The biggest disappointment for me though is that while technology wise we have come a long way, the quality of movie critics has fallen in recent times. Things aren’t going to change much as in this age of competition people are ready to present controversial content to gather more views and subscribers. When that is what these channels aim for, you cannot expect them to give quality content to the viewers. The sad part is that the viewers also have gotten used to these substandard and agenda driven reviews that they seem to think that this is the norm. I have stopped watching majority of the review channels and only follow a few who I think try to provide balanced take on a film and leave rest to the viewers.

What do you think about movie reviews these days? Do you think they provide you with balanced views on a film? Or do you think they try to push their agenda on their viewers?

The recently concluded producer’s council elections in Kollywood was laced with lots of controversies. Like the Nadigar Sangam elections actor Vishal was in the midst of the action surrounding the election. This article is not about the elections and let me conclude by saying that Vishal was elected as the president at the end of it all. The topic I wanted to touch was the press conference the new members of the council had after the win. Vishal who is the president requested the online reviewers to postpone their reviews by few days to help the movie industry.

It was an odd request to be frank. In this day and age, asking few YouTube reviewers to postpone their reviews isn’t going to stop people from voicing their opinions on social media. If Vishal and the new members think that things can be returned back to the olden days with the reviews being postponed, they are living in a dreamland. Let us for example take 90’s as a case study. I am not a movie historian and don’t have statistics but from my experience (Since that’s the decade I am more aware of), there weren’t so many movies releasing every week. We used to wait for big festivals like Pongal, Tamil New Year and Diwali to see big star movies. Only during such big festivals we used to see multiple movies release at one go. Now coming back to the current decade, there are 3-4 movies release every week. It is even hard to keep track of what the movies are and who is acting in it.

The producer’s council should first regulate the amount of movies being made and make sure that the movie they are producing has decent content. Releasing 200+ movies in a year is not going to help the industry. Some movies which release are so amateurish that it is hard to sit through. New producers wanting to enter the industry need to be educated as to how to choose a script before investing a huge sum of money. It is always easy place a blame on a soft target such as YouTube reviewers and call them as a reason for decreasing audience in the theatres but the truth is far from it.

Reviews are personal opinions, people are free to express their opinion in any platform they want. They are the people who go and spend money to watch the film. It’s not like all films are ripped apart, movies like Managaram, 8 thottakal, Bahubali, Aandavan Kattalai, Power Pandi, Pizza, NPNK etc. all got overwhelmingly positive responses from the reviewers. This is the age of good content and if the industry is producing mediocre content, they cannot cry about decreasing audience. I am not talking about piracy here, which is for a completely different topic. People are going to look for review before watching films and that is going to continue. No one is going to stop that. Taking a family of four to the theatre is an expensive ordeal. People would want to make sure that the expense is worthwhile. When we go to a store, the first thing we do before buying a product is to look for reviews. If majority of the users of the product have given positive reviews people purchase that product. In the age of digital media, you are never going to fight that.

If the content is good most of the reviews are going to be favourable. People do look at multiple reviews before making a call and if a movie is good not everyone is going to bad mouth a film. The producers need to get together and think about what they are producing and what content is being screened to the public. If you want people to watch films, reduce the number of movies being produced, produce good content, educate new producers to invest smartly and give the films enough time to publicize their content before release. These would some of the solutions to get the audience to the theatres. By asking reviewers to postpone their reviews, you are basically saying that even if the movie is bad, since we invested, let the people spend the money like they did in the 80’s and 90’s before they found out that the content was horrible. Sorry Vishal, that is not a solution and audience are never going to fall for that.


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