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Good or Overrated? October 24, 2007

Posted by Shujath in Articles, Movies.
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In recent years, I’ve always found quite weird the fate of “good” films (considered worthy by critics and by people who’ve seen them irrespective of the box office status). Either they don’t work at the box office or end up being highly overrated. Coming to the latter, in the current year I can recall two such flicks – Guru and Chak De India. In both cases, pre-release buzz wasn’t too great and the openings weren’t earth shattering. Again in both cases a few days after the release one could find on all major news channels 30 minute shows dedicated to the “phenomenon” created by these films.

In the case of Guru it was about “finally….the Indian Biopic comes of age”. Another channel debated if “Indians like to watch only sanitized biopics?”. Whatever the topic of debate might be this whole post-release extravaganza only brought in more and more audiences to the theatres. And whether they liked it or not everyone went overboard in praising the film maybe because they didn’t want to sound dumb. Of course, lot of people started talking about the Oscars as usual. A similar thing was seen in the Case of Chak De with the film made a part of IIM leadership curriculum, SRK addressing a major leadership conference and of course the Oscar buzz. It is really hard to figure out if the cult status these films receive is simply because a lot of people watched it and loved it or if was the media blitzkrieg which hypnotized people to believe that they have to love it or risk being labelled uncool.

Last year it was Rang De Basanti and Lage Raho Munnabhai but I am hesitant to label the films themselves as overrated. I would only apply the term to the effect these flicks were supposed to have in society at large. A couple of other films in recent times which resulted in TV shows dedicated to them post release are Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Salaam Namaste – as if they were treatises on extra-marital and live-in relationships. Both were entertaining flicks and it looks like the audiences took them lot more seriously than even the respective filmmakers.

I don’t think you can recall such stuff happening 3-4 years back. Is it because the news-media wasn’t ubiquitous at that point of time….or is it because there were a larger number of flicks which were qualified as hits and so there wasn’t a chance for any single film to become a phenomenon. I don’t know the answer but I sure this trend will continue and that you’ll get to see and hear lots of “The ______ Effect” (substitute the next cult hit in the blanks). Note that excluded here some really bad films which go on to become hits….that’s another story.