Think Again, Will You?

Warning: This may end up being a ‘reverse-troll’ post. But since it has bothered me all day long, may as well write it.

I happened to read film critic Raja Sen’s column in Mumbai Mirror this morning (This). He wrote a ‘passionate’ piece on Hugo not getting a theatrical release in India, and hence, film fans being denied the chance to see a great 3D product in the theatres. I was with his line of argument for much of the article, till I read the following:

To those of us who burnt up Twitter in anger, making the #WeWantHugo war-cry trend across the nation yesterday, those forced to watch big-screen films at home, I recommend at least some mild revenge if we don’t get a taste of Hugo in 3D: Viacom 18’s next release, Blood Money, hits theatres on Friday, the 30th of March, and I feel we should do with it exactly what they suggest we do with Marty’s film: do please pirate it, won’t you?

Did I read “do please pirate it”? Yes, I did. It doesn’t matter if it was meant to be literal or not. Someone actually seeded that thought in mainstream media – a leading English newspaper, no less. Definitionally itself, the language is irresponsible.

Here are my three key concerns with the piece, in particular the portion quoted above:

1. The film industry loses 30-50% of its potential revenue to piracy. To encourage it even in jest is ridiculous. One of the reasons piracy continues to thrive (amongst several others) is that the media has not really “co-opted” the issue at any level at all.

2. Viacom 18 Motion Pictures is a business entity. In a free market, a business entity has the right to take business decisions based on its evaluation of the market situation. Just because you have access to prime space in a leading newspaper does not mean that you can spit venom at a private business and run down a forthcoming release of their’s, irrespective of how big or small it may be.

3. The issue in question (Hugo not releasing theatrically in India) is one of taste, not of moral standing. To make it sound like a ‘social’ issue (any suggested protest would imply that) is going way too far. People may be ‘deprived’, but they are not being ‘wronged’ if the film is not released. It is important to note this distinction.

In the war of words on twitter since this morning, one of the arguments being given is that since the Bhatts, co-producers of the forthcoming film in question (Blood Money), have been plagiarizing foreign films for ages, they have no moral authority in this matter. My simple reaction to that: Two wrongs don’t make a right. Period.

There is good journalism and bad journalism. But even more important is the distinction between mature and immature journalism. Raja Sen’s piece could have easily been an example of mature, good journalism. He could have made his point in a dignified yet effective manner, and driven the idea home to his readers. Instead, it ends up coming across as immature and childish. Because evidently, a journalist wore the hat of a ‘fan’ while writing the piece, and lost perspective of the responsibility that comes with the power the medium gives him. A pity!

It’s easy to write flamboyant pieces and make fun of filmmakers and directors. Do that by all means when you don’t like their work. But why get personal? Why cross the line? Why drag a filmmaker, who has invested his blood and sweat in his debut film (with a mere Kunal Khemu at his disposal), into it? Think again, will you?

PS: I know what some of you must be wondering: Is Viacom 18 on my client list? Why am I writing this piece? Yes, they are clients. Like the rest of the film industry. And if you are cynical enough, you will indeed correlate this article and my client roster. But you know what, I stopped worrying about such cynicism many months ago.

PPS: (I’m sure) There are trolls who hate Raja Sen, and hence, will “love” my post. Dear Those: Thanks but no thanks!

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About Shailesh Kapoor

Founder & CEO - Ormax Media. Film Lover. Media Insights Detective. Budding Author. Lifelong Student.
This entry was posted in Films and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Think Again, Will You?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Shailesh,
    There are very good and important points there. A movie critic reflecting his ‘fandom’ in his writing is likely far from being objective. Over time, he would lose his ability to influence or even predict movie going behavior ( even if some believe that critics do that).
    More surprising is this passes through the editors?

  2. It is supposed to pass the editor’s desk, but I guess, in the practical reality of deadlines, that doesn’t happen.

  3. Sadho says:

    I know no Raja Sen, nor do I know you (this is the second post from you that I’m reading after Paan Singh Tomar), so I guess I’m in very neutral spot here, and after reading both, you and him, I think you’ve been real authentic in putting your point and view forward. Under no circumstance piracy should be encouraged. Suggesting to do so, is not just immature but also very pathetic.

  4. Varun says:

    Bahut achhey! Solid arguments and well put.

  5. thanks so much, for making sense of a bizarre occurrence! What i fail to understand is that as a film enthusiast, how can one ask his readers to practically destroy another’s film. Like you rightly pointed out, my whole career so far, culminates in this debut film of mine! He has crossed the line ethically, and legally! Abetting or instigating an infringement of the Copyright act, under section 63 is punishable by law for a minimum of 6 months prison and minimum 50 K fine. Its sad, but one has to take necessary steps to protect his baby!

    • All I can say is – We have enough data to suggest that the ticket paying audience does NOT get influenced by print articles at all

      • yes i agree.. but i have taken this very personally.. not just abt the box office anymore!!!

        • Anusha says:

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  6. well said! promoting illegal and immoral activities like piracy can not be justified by any means. and that too through a medium which reaches to a lot of people. personal views are a different aspect but one should consider his responsibility while publishing these kind of thoughts via such medium.

  7. ramesh says:

    Shut up, will you?
    And stop taking yourself so seriously

  8. Monarch says:

    Vishal Mahadkar and we must understand that, Raja Sen(or other critics or columnist as a matter of fact) have not been very successful in influencing Audience. Evidences lie in the recent past Ra.One, Bodyguard et al. + Many people are arguing about how Vishesh Films has been copying Korean films..and you very rightly said two wrongs don;t make one right. Vishesh Films has got it own captive audience. And they are not twitter. and they might not even aware of such article. and GoodFellas (like they fondly called themselves) must understand that Viacom18 is company which is here to do business. they have every right to not to release the film if they do not find it feasible. How can you force them to release? #WewantHugo was ok on twitter. But this article was tad too much. So with this logic will GoodFellas go ‘pirate ‘x’ movie because we didnot like the cast of ‘y”?

  9. Varun Varghese says:

    Very balanced piece. I also want to watch Hugo in a theater but why bring in the poor makers of blood money, what have they done? Had thought of and wanted to say everything that you have brilliantly articulated in your post. Good job.

  10. PBS says:

    I’m extremely pissed off with Bhatts that one part of me wants this film to be flop. At the same time major part of me wants this film to work for it’s director, Kunal Khemu( yes, I like that guy!) and Viacom18.

    Raja Sen and bunch of other guys who think that just because they have some space at their disposal they can make or break films are real douches. I wish for a legal action here.

  11. “The issue in question (Hugo not releasing theatrically in India) is one of taste, not of moral standing. To make it sound like a ‘social’ issue (any suggested protest would imply that) is going way too far. People may be ‘deprived’, but they are not being ‘wronged’ if the film is not released. It is important to note this distinction.”

    Very succinctly put. If only our new generation of hot-blooded movie buffs would understand that and divert their cine activism to more fruitful avenues, it might just help the industry in some tangible way. Right now there is such little understanding of the ground realities of movie-making and the constraints of the creative space our industry struggles with. Besides, there is this stubborn insistence to refuse to see the industry as commercial driven. The argument is not that it should be or not, of course no art can thrive if handled with only commercial concerns. But there is a blind refusal to see it within its context.The point is when you look away from reality you don’t provide solutions but just misplaced idealism that serves no one. And this is not about Raja Sen at all. This is about the same Twitter junta you have spoken off and the one Raja addresses here. If we really believe in this so-called cause of cinema it is our responsibility to understand ground level issues, else we will just remain fools in ivory towers, which many embarrassingly sound like.

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