Why I have stopped writing movie reviews

I have been a blogger since a long time now and have been writing on myriad issues for various platforms. Included in that has been movie reviews. But it has been quite some time that I have stopped writing them. And deliberately so. This is the story of why I have stopped writing movie reviews.

But before I tell that story, a primer about movies and me. Having grown up in a dusty coal-mine city of Talcher in central Odisha, the source of watching movies was not the 3–4 odd theaters but rather the TV, particularly post cable TV. Then there was that Panasonic palm size, rectangular, CD player (few might remember that) that someone got as a gift. CD’s were sold in only couple or three places and used to cost about Rs 50–70 for a day on rent. Anyway, the theater watching of movie happened largely when I came to Bangalore for graduation. The spree continued for a very long time.

Well, watching a lot of movies does not qualify someone to be a reviewer. If it were so then we would have a nation full of ace cricketers. But critical analysis is also a thing. And one can definitely do so with movies.

Movie review is a tricky business. The shortest review used to be when people ask those coming out of theaters (well, not the multiplexes you are used to. The old ones with a grill gate which opened when the show ended) how the movie was. This despite them having bought a ticket already. This was before pages and pages were devoted to reviewing movies or it did not reach most people.

Yeah, lot of digression. Let me come back to the topic. So I have written quite a few movie reviews. I have been quite happy with few of them too. Particularly this one which I wrote for the award winning ‘Whiplash’.

When I reviewed the exceptional Whiplash — http://sambitspeak.blogspot.in/2015/04/whiplashing-teacher.html

I do read other reviews of ‘qualified’ reviewers, i keep a tab on critiquing techniques, i try to cover relevant aspects for a viewer, and i do invest in time to produce a good work. Yet i have not been writing them since some time. The reasons are a few.

I have increasingly come to believe that I am not adequately qualified to write a more technical review. Let me explain. It is one thing to comment on performances, the plot, the sub plot, etc, but to write on cinematography, the relevance of background score, the nuances of sub plots weaving with main plot, editing techniques, etc one needs some knowledge about filmmaking in general. While it is important to give a overview that is understood and appealing to a lay reader, unless there is sound technical backdrop given, the arguments do not hold.

There are many movie reviewers, particularly one in Indian Express, who write just anything. Their reviews I feel do not help anyone. Rather than these so called experts, the facebook friend reviewers are more helpful sometimes.

But review business is very important. People want to make informed choice before spending time and money (and it costs a lot these days to plan movie watching) on a movie. Reviews, easily accessible, have a role to play.

Sometimes I feel the urge to write a movie review, as recently as last week when I watched Jagga Jasoos. But i resisted the feeling. Some day when I read more about techniques in filmmaking, more technical stuff about movies, or maybe help myself to get knowledge from the School of Communication in our university where they teach film making, I might get back to that genre of writing. But until then a few tweets would be fine.

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