Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Awards updates

The Booker longlist is out and it’s a “low-key”, “giant-felling” one. I hadn’t even heard of three of the books on the list, and the only ones I've read are Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (my review and author interview here and here) and Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach. Have also just started Nikita Lalwani’s Gifted.

On another note, though I don’t usually think much of competitive awards, here’s one that's applause-worthy: many congratulations to Baradwaj Rangan for winning the National Award for the best film critic. Agree with every word (or nearly every word) of the citation, which reads: “…for intelligent and reader-friendly reviews of popular cinema with a depth of understanding of the form, a discernible passion for the medium bulwarked consistently by a knowledge of the trends and touchstones of global cinema”.

Like many of the commenters on Baradwaj’s blog, I stumble over “bulwarked”, but the rest is spot on. The general quality of "movie-reviewing" in our papers makes his writing stand out even more, but I think he'd hold his own against the top rung of reviewers anywhere in the world. (I also have high regard for his open-ended, non-instructive attitude towards reviewing, which he touches on in this post.)


  1. Interesting report in today's TOI (I think, could be HT), where Baradwaj's name came after the long list of National Award-winning films. Obviously all the films were italicised...and so was 'Baradwaj Rangan'. Probably sounded like a regional film to the desk hands...

  2. Or maybe, knowing the ToI's copy-desk, someone thought the recipients' names had to be italicised, and they also ended up italicising the film titles by mistake.

  3. Hey!
    I am just too glad that one of my favourite critics have own it. But, the most interesting part is that, most of the times I differ from his views. I have observed that even you have not agreed to his points but aprreciated his criticism. You didn't like KANK, SARKAR which he loved. OMKARA was his best review e'er. I have differred with his views on BLACK, SARKAR, VIVAH, JHOOM BARABAR JHOOM, DON ('06) etc. But the most intriguing point is, one may love the films he hates or vice-versa. But the points he presents never fails to convince one. That's the biggest strength in a critic.

    P.S.:Why are you not reviewing any films anymore? You are the best critic, I believe. Maybe, in a few years, we see you posting an acceptance speech!

  4. This year, the most undeserving ones have bagged the award (except BR).

    Just see! Best Hindi Film: BLACK! How come? What sort of "creativity", "originality", "cinematic brilliance" did the film show? Everything in this film is too gimmicky! Where there were films like Paheli, Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi etc., they didn't bother. This was so arty, no?

    What doesn't fit me is the super(ham)sta[e]r AB Sr. baggin' it for bleak BLACK. Now I am convinced that, much of overacting, mannerism and Parkinson's-turned-Alzheimer's are the only points to give away awards! When the real awardees should have been SRK for Paheli, Kay Kay Menon for Hazaron..., and loads...

    Gawd! When will they learn?

  5. Can I borrow On Chesil Beach? I have been craving it.

  6. Movie freak: well, as Baradwaj says in that post I linked to, "if you read what I have to say, it’s because you are interested in my views, and not in my judgments". Many of my favourite reviews (especially some by Pauline Kael) are reviews where I don't at all agree with the overall assessment of the film - but I appreciate them as solid, incisive writing that convincingly expresses a different perspective and gives me, at least briefly, an insight into how someone else might respond to a work. In any mature reviewing culture (and there isn't one in mainstream media in India), both reviewers and readers should be able to appreciate that a review isn't about passing summary judgement on whether a film is Good or Bad (or five-star, or two-and-a-quarter star or zero star).

    (This of course brings me straight to the level of discussion on's message boards, which I will deal with in a subsequent post.)

    Thanks for the compliment. I wrote about a few films at the CInefan festival recently, but haven't been able to review regularly for some time.

  7. ...much of overacting, mannerism and Parkinson's-turned-Alzheimer's are the only points to give away awards...

    C Kane: well, ya, that's been true of movie award shows all over the world (I think someone once wrote an entire book about Oscar's love affair with disabled-character performances). It's one of the many, many reasons why I find competitive film awards annoying (even though I'm a big source of Oscar-related trivia!).

    Aishwarya: you're too young to read it. Later.

  8. Thanks! Jai!

    Well, on message boards, it's best described "filthy". I wonder what kind of people visit it. They tear Raja Sen's wonderful reviews of GURU, BHEJA FRY and VIVAH (yeah! I am among the few haters of these films) to a thousand words. Most of them aren't even aware that there's a language named English and it has a well-defined grammar.

    These are much of the PVR crowds whom you described in your KANK post. A message in an article on Urmila declares, "I wish I could 'squize' the jackfruits with my hands." These are the kinds of people who visit rediff! In every article they castrate SRK of being a gay (what's your problem?). Even in a post on Martin Scorsese, the debate over Rajnikant and Bachchan goes on. They are the unmatched fans of Bachchan who have declared him a better actor than MARLON BRANDO!! Phheewwwwwwwww! They really know the name?

  9. other than baradwaj which indian reviewer do you like? I like raja sen & namrata joshi, and for international cinema, I swear by J. Hoberman.