Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Quality reviews

Jack Black posing as Ned Schneebly in The School of Rock says (not verbatim, mind you) "Man destroys everything..and there was a way to stick up to him, something pure, called Rock..but wait, Man destroyed that too by bringing along this little thing called MTV".

Something similar is happening with the Telugu websites also, I think. There was a time when they could do their own thing, publish honest, quality movie/music reviews not giving a hoot for who thought what. They were so wonderfully different from the pulpy magazines (that sported titles like Megastar and licked stars’ back-ends no end).

And then what happened? The websites slowly started rivaling mainstream sources. And the moneyed folks in Telugu film industry, bless their twisted souls, woke up to the potential of Internet and the influence it has on the pravaasaandhra crowd (Telugu diaspora). At the same time the dollar revenues from Telugu movies were becoming sizeable. Though they don't outrun Hindi movies (good ones of which easily figure in the Top 30 high grossers in a releasing weekend) in dollar collections, a decent American run of 3 to 4 weeks gets handsomer returns than a 50-day run in India. And that's a big deal.

What comes in the way of such a dream run? You guessed right, the popular websites that might call a bad a bad.

Telugus depend on a handful of websites for pointers on new movies. These websites have become word-of-mouth, friends’ recommendations, TV reports showing enthusiastic first day viewers screaming "super hit" into the camera and newspaper reviews - all rolled into one. So the reviewers' power in this mix cannot be ignored.

For instance, reviewers at Idlebrain and Greatandhra were largely responsible for driving droves to Bommarillu initially. This review frenzy definitely helped it become a blockbuster in the US.

Here’s another example. After, Mahesh Babu's Athadu and Pokiri did excellent business in the US, distributors salivated at his Sainikudu. And they held multiple premiers for the movie in the US. They also took help from websites to work up the release frenzy hoping for an exhilarating climax! Idlebrain carried almost a minute-on-minute countdown to the movie release late into the American Friday night.

Then law of averages worked its magic. First show in India left viewers high and dry; and so colossal was the disaster that if some reports are to be believed the disappointment levels matched that of fans of Rajnikanth soon after Baba’s first show; now you figure out!

Idlebrian updates stopped abruptly. No further word was written on the movie for another 2 days. And then the countdown story also disappeared. Till date there is no review of the movie on the website. It squandered an opportunity to help innocent desi (weekend viewer) folks escape the torture Gunasekhar unleashed on them.

What can I say? I am just happy that there are bloggers, who do their own thing, publish honest, quality movie/music reviews not giving a hoot for who thought what.