‘Petta’ vs ‘Viswasam’: And the real winner is…

Chennai: The most embarrassing moment for anybody who catches the first day first show in theatres these days is the sight of young boys and girls waiting at the exit with a mike in their hands.

Trust me, a majority would instantly say, “Marana Mass. Verithanam Overloaded. Athiri Budhiri or Kizhichittanga. Any sane person standing outside would wonder whether these men and women are out from a WWE ring. And the so-called trackers on social media deserve credit for introducing such words to them. Very soon, they may even find a mention in Thesaurus.

Talking about online trackers, it is really tough sitting next to them and watching a movie. All through the show, they would be fingering their mobile phones. As the screen opens, comes a post from them: #Showtime at XXX theatre. It is followed by ‘Watching XYZ movie’.

And they are so faithful that they never fail to post that it is ‘#Intervaltime at #XYZ movie’ during the break. Everything and anything not associated with the review of a film will find mention in their post.

Finally, a few minutes after the show, they start posting their views.

Sample these: “Overloaded with verithanam. Marana Mass. Songs would please music-lovers and stunts would appeal to action-lovers!”

Take away the movie name and cut and paste the comment for any other movie, the review would sound the same. Being a tracker you have to know everything, including birthdays of actresses and their moms.

Well, when we say review, those who think they are are best in the business are a group of YouTubers. A one-minute-and-ten-second teaser of a movie will be reviewed for 20 minutes by them. But a two-and-a-half-hour film will end up getting just five minutes. And, of the five minutes, two minutes will be occupied by the merchandise that they try to promote and sell through the video.

The rest goes in introducing the name of their YouTube channel and asking viewers to hit the bell icon at the top and subscribe to their channel. More than reviewing a film, they end up advising a filmmaker on how to make a movie and what to be avoided and what not. And to become one you have to keep an eye on what you wear #SevappuChattai #BlueChattai.

One of the first reviews that I read seriously was that of ‘iconic’ movie Narasimha, starring Vijayakanth. I quote the exact words of the reviewer – “Vijayakanth has used his histrionic ability to do justice to the character.” Even today, I am left wondering where on earth did the reviewer found out that ‘Captain’ does act.

Today, reviews have become mere templates like a leave letter. Get hold of a few words and repeat them in different order for different films. Use words like script, screenplay, narration, lag, second-half badly needs trimming and misplaced songs – the reviewer in you is born.

To put it simply, the art of reviewing is not to review a film. From my personal experience, I still remember ending my review of a big movie a few years ago that ‘it could have been made better’. Its producers, who had no clue what it meant, were swayed by the word ‘better’ which they thought was a compliment and proudly chose to flash it on their advertisements.

Coming back to my headline, Petta vs Viswasam: And the real winner is… For now, I would say reviewers. Because they managed to catch both the movies in preview shows without having the need to run around cinema halls for tickets, buy them at high rates and get struck in mad crowds.

M BHARAT KUMAR