Saturday, May 17, 2008

Celebrating A Century of Reviews


I recently completed a hundred reviews and decided to celebrate by writing about it. I feel like a movie director felt when the film completed a silver jubilee in the good old days or 50 days in the current slam bang multiplex era. I never thought this far ahead when I began reviewing but I have truly enjoyed watching the movies and writing about them. Writing especially, is something I had lost touch with during my professional career, and it feels great to be able to put non-work related thoughts to the computer screen.

I also have an impressive collection of statistics
• I’ve watched a 100 movies (mostly Bollywood) in the period from 13th July’06 till May’08 working out to a average frequency of 4.5 movies per month – kind of one every weekend.
• This has consumed approx 500 hours of my already incredibly hectic professional & personal life – that’s almost 21 full days !
• Total spend approx ~Rs 45,000, a shade over $1000, in watching the movies
• Readers from over 250 cities, across the 6 continents, view my blog / read my reviews. The map above shows last months dispersion – it gives me so much personal satisfaction to view this, I cant even begin to describe it.
• Total page views would be greater than 20,000 over this period.
• Movies that I have enjoyed the most (the non-mega releases, in no particular order) : Loins of Punjab Presents, Cheeni Kum, Manorama Six Feet Under, Khosla ka Ghosla and Dor
• Movies that I have loathed : RGV ki Aag (I still cant believe how someone can ruin Sholay !), Buddha Mar Gaya (the only movie I walked out of, during the interval), Baabul and Red.

My family has been incredibly supportive. It’s almost a dream come true for my wife as she gets to watch all the recent releases along with someone who, in the ten years prior to Aug’06, had not watched more than 5 hindi movies. My kids have enjoyed themselves as well – they either watch the movie or if it’s not good enough, punish the cinema hall for its bad taste by running around the whole hall and doing their best to wreck it by jumping on the seats etc. Even my parents have joined me whenever they can, willingly in the case of my mom and a tad reluctantly in the case of my dad.

I’ve also found myself getting more and more involved in the world of film-making. I’ve now met producers, actors, script-writers and very recently a script-writer cum lyricist. I’ve found out much more about the entire business of cinema – who makes money, how are deals structured, how there is now some amount paid for branding in almost every scene etc. Also, once you take away the A-list, it’s a world where people struggle to make ends meet. Take away the glamour and it’s just another job. I also think that our cinema is too reliant on the A-list stars – there have been no commercial hits I could think of in my reviewing period that did not have at least one or two stars, which is sad.

This exists because directors / producers are excessively obsessed with the songs and stars and not enough on the script / dialogue. I also loathe the trend of dumbing down movies, with a very elitist view of ‘making it accessible for the masses’, ‘this is what people want etc’. If you have the guts to make a good film, holding on to its creative integrity and soul, the same masses welcome it and flock to the cinema. Taare Zameen Par is a marvelous sentimental, emotional film which was restrained, not once did it go over the top or fall prey to providing cheap thrills yet was a blockbuster with gross earnings of Rs60 crore ($15 mn) in India alone. Cheeni Kum is today called a multiplex film (still raked in Rs30 crore at the box office) but in an era long ago there were brilliant, commercially viable films like Abhimaan, Chupke Chupke etc which touched on bold themes or entertained without falling into the slapstick trap. I think making a good film takes balls and if you succeed, the rewards will come, punto !

I’ve personally now written one full-fledged script and have two more outlines written out. Some day I hope to bring them to life. I also need your help, for another project I have in mind. I would like each of my readers to list their top10 hindi movies (preferably the ones shot in colour) in the comments section. If they are ranked fine, else even just the list is great. Also, If there are 13 or 8, don’t knock yourself out making it 10, that’s only indicative…

Your thoughts on my thoughts are welcome as always. Until the next review, then…

11 comments:

Abhijit Srivastava said...

hi apurv bhaiya..wow..100 movies!! thats simply amazing, yea that dot on the middle east is me and my friends. The thing about your reviews is that u keep it real, and your ideas of what makes a movie great arent obscure, or complex..i mean i understand it, hell even some of my goon friends could understand it..lol. wish u wud review non-hindi movies as well...keep up the good work sir.
over n out
Abhijit

Differently Challenged said...

Apurva, Congrats on the Century!
Of all the reviewers on the web, I have found that Your and mine Opinion about movies tends to converge. Hence before watching a movie on the weekends, I hope that you have reviewed it so that I come to know whether I should go for it or not.
May you have many more centuries to celebrate, and may we get to read more of your insightful commentary on the latest Hindi Movies.

As per your request, here are some of my favorite movies, in no particular order:
Aandaaz Apna Apna
Yahaan
Taare Zameen Par
Golmaal(the Old one)
Namaste London
Khuda Key Liye
Chupke Chupke
Guide
Chasm-e-Baddur
Jaane bhi do Yaaro
And the Ones in Black and White Include:
Mughal e Azam
Pyaasa,
Kaagaz ke Phul

Anonymous said...

Hi appu bhaiya....This definitely a great achievement for you and to tell you very frankly i did expect you to reach this level....I have read each and every review that has been posted by you and the reviews have been great...Although there have been a lot of times our opinions have not matched but still there have been a lot of times when i have decided to watch a movie just because you had liked it,i have loved posting my comments and would continue to do so in future....Wishing you all the best and may you post many many reviews in future and i also hope that the scripts that you have written are brought to life and we can watch them as i know they would be great...I have listed some of my all time favourite movies below...(these are not ranked and is just a list)

Dil Chahta Hai
Lagaan
Lakshay
Andaz Apna Apna
Khosla Ka Ghosla
Hera Pheri
Dus
Namaste london
Guide
Chak De India
Swades
Sholay
Chup Chup ke
Pushpak
Tum Bin
Parichay
Rang de Basanti
Bhool Bhulaiya
Jo Jeeta Wohi sikander
Don(Both old and new)
Ab Tak Chappan
Aan
And many more....:)

Lots of Love
Karan

tabby_the_cat said...

Apurv - In the mad no-time-for-fun world we live in I do check your reviews to see if I should invest in watching any hindi movie. So thanks for the wonderful help and congrats for persuing your passion and hobby!!!

Re my top 10 in no particular order
- Sholay
- Khamoshi
- Hum Tum
- Baazigar
- Jaane bhi do yaaron
- Parinda
- Papa kehte hain
- Baap nambari to beta 10 nambari
- 1942 a Love Story
- Bombay

Im sure Ive not done justice but these are the ones I remember most.

Cheers
Tabrez

Anonymous said...

Hi, Am late I know but wanted to congratulate on your achievement of A Century of Reviews.. Am sure you would reach many more mile stones. Would be glad to be of help in listing the movie names.. Here they are:
TPZ
Cheeni Kum
Life in a Metro
Jodha Akbar
Chak De India
DON
KHNH

All the very best and looking forward to reading many more intesting reviews. Cheers,Bee

Meghna said...

hi. that map really is impressive!
here's my list in no particular order:
1. Andaaz Apna Apna
2. Chupke Chupke (hrishikesh M)
3. Satte Pe Satta
4. Sholay
5. DDLJ
6. Yuva
7. mr. india
8. Ram lakhan(as a representation of masala in the 80's)
9. Rangeela
10. Trishul
etc etc.

Supriya said...

Ok, so I'm days late on this one, but in an effort to clean up my mailbox, I stumbled upon it and decided to act upon it (or delete it and forever hold no peace with you :-) )

Obviously I've got too much time on my hands if I really think about the 10 best movies that I might have seen and will get to that part eventually, but first I'd like to comment on some of the statistics that movie mania compelled you to record and state. I'm (obviously) impressed with your wide viewership and page hits but what holds my attention is the single most important virtue that is needed to sit through 100 Hindi films (some good but mostly banal), systematically strip them down to bare bones and then write about them... PATIENCE!

Despite having a not as hectic professional and personal life, I cannot fathom the exercise of sifting through thousands of movies to pick the ones that are worthy of my disposable income, sitting through 3+ hours of the ones that I do indeed put my money down on and then coming up with the occasional winner (I think my odds are better in Vegas). And what's more, actually keeping statistical records of time and money spent!! For that alone, Apurv, here's another stat that you can add... 10 out of 10 for endurance .

But needless to say, the readers from 6 continents are indeed indebted to you for saving their money and time (perhaps we should try and "figure" these out lol). To leverage from the punch line of the mastercard ad... "Not having seen "Aag" - Priceless!"

For what it's worth, here's my list in no particular order

1. Dor
2. Jaane bhi do yaaron
3. Chupke Chupke
4. Khosla ka Ghosla
5. Hera Pheri
6. Chashme Buddoor
7. Khuda ke liye (barely made it through this one but had a lasting impact)
8. Cheeni kum
9. Monsoon Wedding

I'm sure there are more but for the moment, my brain is having a movie fart.

From those 250 cities where you're making your presence felt... Keep 'em coming.

Supriya

GuruGupta said...

Hi Apurv, Congrats on the century. My top 10-15 list in no particular order.Asit
1. SHOLAY
2. DON
3. ANDAZ APNA APNA
4. JANE BHI DO YARON
5. VAISA BHI HOTA HAIN PART 2
6. MUGHL-E-AZAM
7. MAIN AZAD HOON
8. KALA PATHAR
9. PARINDA
10. AGNEEPATH
11. EK HASINA THI
12. BANTWARA
13. KHAKEE
14. 3 DEEWAREIN
15. COMPANY

Aman said...

congrats apu bhaiya !
here is my top 10 movies in no particualar order
1.Dilwale dhulaniye le jayenge
2.Dil Chahta Hai
3.Lakshya
4.Lagaan
5.Guru
6.Chupke Chupke
7.Yalgaar
8.Pardes
9.Swades
10.Don (2006)

nina said...

hi, apurv
congrats..... wow 100 movies. thats a lot of hard work , to watch and to write.
i am a new entry in your endeavour but would surely be a regular one. the idea of the map was great. keep it up.
my list of the recent ones, though not in the order of preference
1 taare zameen par
2 don
3 swades
4 chak de india
5 khosla ka ghosla
6 dil to pagal hai
7 salaam bombay
8 qayamath se qayamath tak
9 hum dil de chuke sanam
10 mr india

Zennmaster said...

=)

Here goes my $0.02

1. Sholay (Classic)

2. DDLJ (Another classic, one of the few movies which you can put on repeat and watch it again and again and still find the jokes to be funny and the romance to be aww inducing rather than inducing an up chuck reflex)

3. Mohra (The first of its kind which used the 3rd angle to the story brilliantly, and the music was mindblowingly bollywood masala)

4. Dil Chata Hai (Siigh! reel meets real)

5. Jo Jeeta Who Sikandar (though a copy of breaking away, it still managed to leave me wanting to ride a bike at the end of the movie, brilliant music to boot as well)

6. D (the prequel to Company, one which not many people are aware of, one of the finest under stated performances in the year 2006).

7. Baazigar (Anti-hero in bollywood was never this good in a mean I want everything selfishly bad)

8. Bombay (Mani Rathnam...need I say more)

9. Bheja Fry (Along with Monsoon wedding are fine examples of stories playing the lead more than anything else)

10.Hera Pheri (Laugh Riot...gave definition and set the benchmark for caper comedies in bollywood)

11. Mr. India (A movie which defined what escapism is all about to a 4 year old, a permenant fixture when I was growing up)

12. Ram Lakhan and Khalnayak (Subash Ghai at his best)

Though guys like Mani Rathnam and the underworld movies of Ram Gopal Verma you can go in blind folded and you know you will get your money's worth. New guys who I can trust to give me my money's worth in terms of story telling are Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak.

Theatre is not really dead as Simon and Garfunkel thought it is... =)

ps: I am pretty sure there a million other movies I wanna name each depending on a new filter altogether, but if I had to convert somebody into a bollywood fanatic, these would do I guess

pps: Don't leak this list or the question to the outside world who LOVE movies, hindi movies to be more specific...may start off a riot of sorts...comprising them into lists is insane and almost implausible.