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TALENT PRESS 2013: Ankur Pathak

In India, film criticism in its strictest definition doesn’t adequately exist. But I’m very comfortable with the professional identity of a film critic, which is that of an opinion-shaper. I recognize the impactful nature of my writing, and the decisive role it plays in shaping the perspective of readers.


Ankur Pathak

Cinema is a celebratory wonder that not only fulfils the traditional purpose of entertainment, but in itself becomes a splendid chronicler of the times we live in, and often speculates about the times that we may live in. I’m a film critic because cinema as a medium not only gratifies me as an individual but inspires me to further decode its syntax and style, comprehend the idea and its iconography, and also persuades me to holistically put in context its implicit nature for an audience that may only passively look at the cinematic force.

I’m very comfortable with the professional identity of a film critic, which is that of an opinion-shaper. I recognize the impactful nature of my writing, and how it plays a decisive role in shaping the perspective of readers. Being able to drive public opinion, not only gives me a sense of responsibility, but also makes me feel like an influential voice and I greatly value that power. In India, film criticism in its strictest definition doesn’t adequately exist. Only film-reviewing does, which in turn is a subsidiary of entertainment journalism. In many instances, Indian film critics regularly conduct interviews with film actors and directors, which may, to some extent, affect and erode quality and fairness from their analysis of the film.

Due to the enormous reach of newspapers in India, film-critiquing becomes a tricky job, as entertainment journalism here is notoriously governed by the PR-industry. Newspapers with vast circulations may not always feed you with a credible review but would rather mislead with jargon carefully constructed to make the film’s promotional poster. Speaking of the state of national cinema in the country, the Hindi-language industry is in an exciting, transitional stage where films breaking conventions are gaining mainstream acceptance, and emerging directors are rooting their stories with realistic sensibilities. Bollywood can no longer be reduced to mere song-and-dance spectacle, but an industry that is also churning out films that reflect a realistic idea of India. Indian directors are returning to the heartland of the country, and writing stories that tell tales of India not just in a superficial way, but films like Swades (2004), Rang De Basanti (2005), Peepli Live (2010), and Shanghai (2012), demonstrate India’s socio-political realities while at the same time, revealing a certain cultural identity of the contemporary Indian.



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