Paid reviewers are destroying Malayalam cinema: Rosshan Andrrews

Rosshan Andrrews, Alphonse Puthren and Anjali Menon
Rosshan Andrrews, Alphonse Puthren and Anjali Menon have come down heavily against negative reviewers recently. File photos

A lot of conversations are brewing in the film industry around the subject of film reviews in Malayalam cinema. Director Rosshan Andrrews remains firm on the stand that the ones who rip apart a film on the first day of its release are sadists. He believes that one can constructively critique a film but when it becomes a personal attack it ceases to be a film review. Rosshan Andrrews who has been in the industry for 17 years has won State awards for his first three films.

When Tamil superstar Suriya ventured into production, his first film ('36 Vayadhinile') was directed by Roshan Andrews.  The director who is in Mumbai for a new Hindi film starring Shahid Kapoor, explains the new trends in paid reviewing.


Your comments on film criticism received a lot of flak. The audience who spends money to watch a film has every right to criticize it, right?

I have survived in this Industry for the last 17 years only due to the support of the audience. I have never said anything about the audience's critical views against a film. Some have simply twisted an opinion I shared in an interview on a YouTube channel during the promotion of 'Saturday Night'. I have not criticized the respected audience of Kerala. I spoke about the substandard film reviews. I asked if the ones who review have ever written a story. Is a film’s pacing decided by a reviewer? The language and style they use are so substandard. They have only derision for everyone. Let them read the reviews of Anupama Chopra and Baradwaj Rangan. There used to be a Kozhikodan and Cinic who used to review films beautifully. Here we have a quotation gang. I know of people who extort money from producers threatening to publish a negative review. There are those who take 2 lakhs and tweet positive reviews.


We have this trend of asking for opinions during the interval of a film…

YouTube reviewers are gatecrashing the venue to ask for the audience's opinion. Then there will be people who have positive and negative things to say about a film. Some are showing this to producers and blackmailing them. If they don’t give money they will only show the ones that had the audience speak negatively about the film. Theatre owners should ban such people from the theatres. The ones who are coming during the interval will start appearing when the film begins and even do a live review in the future. We should ignore those who approach us with mikes on the first day of a film. I have requested producer and theatre owner Antony Perumbavoor to ban such people.


The important thing is to understand the difference between review and criticism, isn’t it?

Reviews and criticisms are different. Earlier newspapers used to have good reviews. That wasn’t personal attacks, just constructive criticisms. Here people are showing their disappointment at not having made it in films. They are sadists. I don’t want them to give ratings/marks to my film. Who gave them the authority to give marks to a film? Those who are looking for YouTube revenue should stop massacring films for their sustenance. These people who indulge in personal attacks should be banned. They don’t need to review a film under the guise of being the spokesperson of the audience.

I haven’t said that all the YouTube film reviewers in Kerala are bad. They are those who do constructive criticism. But they are very few in number.


You said they don’t criticize films in Korea?

The director of 'Parasite' Bong Joon Ho after winning the Oscar dedicated it to the people of his country. The ones who promote good films in Korea are its people. Cinema is their biggest source of entertainment. They will never think of destroying it. They don’t destroy a film through film reviews. Korean cinema’s biggest source of encouragement comes from its people. I just pointed that out. How is that wrong?


How can you argue that you need to learn cinema academically to review a film?

No film director will tell the audience to learn cinema academically before criticizing it. What superstar Mohanlal and Anjali Menon said were precise. They didn’t criticize or taunt the audience. Anjali Menon has made some great films in Malayalam and what she said was right. The pacing of a narrative is decided by the director. Alphonse Puthren is a celebrated Indian filmmaker. If Messi’s game is bad, you criticize his game and not his character.


It is said that failures often lead to such outbursts from filmmakers…

From 'Udayananu Tharam' till 'Saturday Night', I have done 12 films. Out of these 3 were failures. And the rest were either hits or blockbusters. 'Casanova', 'Saturday Night', and 'School Bus' are the flops. When 'Notebook' was released, it was said that the film will be a failure. But the audience accepted it. I can’t predict the success of a film. If that were the case, I would have produced my own films no? I would like to be known as someone who has done different and experimental films. And I am hoping to continue doing that. I am someone who comes from a very ordinary family who had to struggle a lot to reach cinema. I will again keep doing the films I like. And make films I enjoy watching personally. I have confidence that I will find a producer or actor for that. Let the ones who criticize keep doing that.


Do you have any experience of being asked for money to review?

When my film 'Mumbai Police’ came out a reviewer pocketed Rs 25 k from my producer. He threatened to reveal the fact that Prithviraj was gay in the film if the money was not paid. I came to know about this very late. When ‘How old are you’ was released, the same person asked for money. Even a Malayalam channel revealed the climax of 'Mumbai Police' on day 1. I called the main guy on that channel. He replied that even he also had to telecast his programme. 

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