I moved to Bombay three weeks ago.
It was a transfer I asked for, even if it meant shelling out over 50 per cent of my salary on rent. Because I LOVE movies and I wanted to be in Mumbai to catch the previews and get my reviews out by Friday.
We don’t have previews in Chennai and I have bought tickets for every Hindi film I have reviewed in my career. So this is not about wanting free tickets. I would gladly buy my own ticket and popcorn, knowing fully well, that 80 per cent of the time I am bound to be disappointed.
The reason you want to be at the previews is because as a film critic, you want the equal opportunity, just like your peers around the country, to form an opinion without having read any opinion on the film.
Because as a critic, it’s always best to walk in without the baggage of anything you’ve heard from others.
It was with that hope that I walked into the PVR at Andheri West (formerly Fame Adlabs) where the press show of Ek Villain was held on Thursday evening, along with my friend Raja Sen of Rediff, who had promised to tip me off about every preview in town simply because I was new to town (and not to journalism – I have been a journalist with The Hindu for 15 years now)
Niloufer Qureshi, who runs Hype, gave my friend Raja a ticket and said she does not have a single extra ticket for his friend. So I identify myself and tell her that I’m here to review the film on behalf of The Hindu. She tells me someone from The Hindu had messaged her and she had given a ticket away. I call that number to find out that she does not even work for The Hindu. Nor was she planning to review the film.
Before I could explain to Niloufer that she has unwittingly given away a ticket without checking the identity, one of her minions rudely interrupted saying: But I haven’t seen you before.
So I don’t exist?
Rule One of being a film publicist. Know your critics. If you haven’t heard of the third largest circulated English daily in the country, maybe you should give up your job to anyone who knows to Google.
I ask Niloufer to take my number so that this doesn’t happen again and she asks me to leave it with her minion. Because she is too busy being rude, you see.
And the minion also pretends to be busy and runs away without taking my number for future notification. Raja insists on waiting with me till the matter is resolved but given that this bunch of publicists didn’t seem to care, I tell him to go in and catch it, lest he misses the beginning. Besides, all those representing Hype were busy giving away tickets to their friends.
I then leave my number with one of her assistants and ask him to add me to the database and leave after sending Niloufer a text that this was no way to treat a critic when random kids who didn’t seem like they were even old enough to work, were given tickets for the screening.
I also tweeted to Tanuj Garg and Ekta Kapoor to report this incident, only to find out that they don’t care either. Even after seeing that I had once interviewed Ekta. It’s one critic less, you see. One bad review less.
There are better ways to avoid negative reviews, guys. Like not ripping off a Korean film without credit.
Don’t you dare say “See the film first and then comment.” I did try. I was sent away.
So I just have to depend on all the tweets from critics who confirmed that you indeed stole from I Saw The Devil.
I will try to catch the film again tomorrow by paying for my ticket, like I always did back in Chennai. But I do have a problem paying for stolen goods.
– Ek Critic.