Dear Disgruntled Filmmakers

This is one of your friendly neighborhood critics whom everyone seems to hate these days, but for the wrong reasons. One successful film producer went live terming (most of) the reviewers having an IQ less than that of a 12-year old; a film director also did a Press Conference on Web blasting a few journalists for discussing his film on ‘their’ Facebook page.

And now, another has come forward blaming critics and reviewers of not doing their job properly!

If your film had toilet humor and you termed it ‘family entertainment’, then it’s your fault, not ours.

If your film didn’t recover the investment despite being released on Eid and going houseful, then it’s not our fault but yours. In Pakistan, the English reading public is even lower than English speaking ones and to claim that the reviews in English were responsible for the downfall of your flick is like saying that the handful of light bulbs was responsible for the sinking of Titanic.

Yes, we are light bulbs as we tell people the true face of any film that is released because that’s what critics and reviewers do, all over the world.

You can’t blame a reporter for doing a report on a car accident; he doesn’t cause it, he just reports it. Same is the case with reviewers – sometimes they like the film and sometimes they don’t; sometimes they are divided while in many cases they are on the same page. So if you can’t make a quality film, don’t make a film, as you are not doing the public a favor but fulfilling your ego.

Yes, some bloggers do post reviews before films and that I not the right way but that’s their style.

Talk to them, convince them but don’t go out saying that all journalists, bloggers, writers and opinion makers do that. Some actually wait for the film’s release while some (including me) are asked not to even post a ‘Facebook Status’ as it will harm the film. This film industry is as much as ours as it is yours and that’s one of the reasons we criticize films that fail despite having the potential, so that the next time you venture out with a team and equipment, you make a better film.

Three years back, one of the best directors in the industry had a falling out with me – he misinterpreted what I had written and when we met after a few months, we cleared the air. Had I been in his place, I would have retaliated the same way using social media but face to face, we were civil and that’s one of the reasons why I respect him a lot. Another director whose first film did well but wasn’t a blockbuster met me when I went to Lahore and to this day, we talk about films, including his that had some issues too. Even some of the producers whom I criticized thanked me because logic and knowledge were behind that criticism, and that’s the way most of the critics work these days.

A few newcomers to the field of journalism attack their seniors in order to get fame in quick time but that hasn’t helped anyone, at any point in time. Such people filter out because

a) they try to blast others in order to shine and

b) they want to stay friends with showbiz people, as their job is to feed news daily.

Those who don’t depend on friendships do their work to the best of their abilities and that’s one of the many reasons why they are invited to talk shows where if they talk sense, they are recalled and if they don’t, they aren’t recalled. Some even have their own shows which is a brilliant step up because no one can talk on films better than someone who has studied and/or watched films and has a reputation for being knowledgeable.

No one could buy these people because their credibility is dearer to them than money, otherwise, producers and directors would have been running after them long before working on their films.

As for the incident where Yasir Nawaz (director of one of the Eid films this year) clearly shows dissent over criticism, well sir the first review of your film that appeared online praised the film so why so angry. Most of the reviews came after the film’s release and since most weekly newspapers had their issues ready (due to Eid holidays), many reviews are yet to be published. As for the bloggers, most of them wrote their reviews that appeared on Eid day, when the film was already in cinemas.

If your film has jokes that you can’t repeat in family gatherings, then don’t expect people to praise such humor.

If your money is at stake, so is the audiences’ who pay at least Rs. 600 to watch a film – popcorns and drink excluded. If they are getting jokes worth Rs. 2 out of their Rs. 600, then it’s as bad as conning them in the name of family entertainment. Secondly, don’t use platforms like other film’s trailer launch for your personal grievances and watch your film again instead (preferably with someone else’s family) to know what went wrong with what could have been a family entertainment. Also, don’t forget that the people you are criticizing are also the ones who wrote glowing previews before your film was released. If you didn’t thank them then, you shouldn’t criticize them now.

Had it not been for the ever-ready Jerjees Seja, CEO of ARY Films, many would have confronted you for trying to be the next Sahir Lodhi.

I must say that Sahir Lodhi’s film was better than yours and had it been screened on Eid, it might have done better. It was everything but it wasn’t unfit for the families – Mehrunisa V Lub U was anything but a family entertainer and the sooner you realize that, the better. Just imagine if critics and reviewers had written you off as a failed actor after Peela Joda 2 decades back (you were exceptional in that play, though) would you have been able to achieve what you have since. Reviewers are as important a part of the film industry as directors and without them, the public would stay at home and wait for the films to release on DVD or air on TV, as it will save them time and money. Think about that before going all guns blazing on someone else’s pitch without differentiating between apples, oranges, and orangutans!

Sincerely Yours,
Omair Alavi

Disclaimer: Responsibility for the information and views set out in article lies entirely with the author(s)