That Sandeep Vanga has chosen to take deep offence at the torrent of savage criticism against his film Kabir Singh is not really surprising. Most filmmakers, even those who ask you to be “absolutely honest” in telling it like it is, are deeply mortified by criticism. So when they tell you to tell the truth please understand, they mean, the truth according to their definition of it.
In my experience as a film critic, there are very few filmmakers who learn from their mistakes. Most of them are too close to their work to actually know where they are going wrong. Sandeep Vanga continues to bask in the massive success of Kabir Singh in spite of the condemnation because the film’s success negates all the negativity, as far as he is concerned.
And he is not wrong. When the public mandate is on his side, who cares what some critics think? It’s like saying the BJP is the wrong government in India. You will only be shouted down.
“Why should I bother with the two stars that a critic has given my film when my film has made 200 crores already?” Vanga reasons.
You really can’t argue with success, not when the entire nation has embraced the film. Not when the young audience is clapping at the slapping, what’s the point in arguing that lovers slapping one another is unhealthy for the nation? They are happy with the film. Why are the critics unhappy? We are meant to be evaluating the merit, not the morality of a film.
But there is another kind of cinema that goes wrong in every sense while its makers remain oblivious of getting derailed. A very recent film from one of the most prestigious production houses has nosedived on the day of release. The film’s talented leading man told me, “We worked on the film for three years. We got so close to the characters, we lost all objectivity. Somewhere I felt something was going wrong. I didn’t have the courage to approach Sir (he names the film’s majestic helmer) with my misgivings. I mean, who am I to question him? Not one frame of the film was shown to any of us before a few days of release. When I finally saw it I could see the second-half was redundant. By then it was too late.”
While some filmmakers, like the epic filmmaker from the above incident are extremely cagey about their creation, some like Raj Kumar Hirani and Aamir Khan are open to advice and even changes in a film before its release. Hirani and Khan do “test screenings” weeks before release inviting randomly chosen viewers to see their films.
They know the invitees at previews and premiers lie. Best not to trust opinion plucked from the red carpet.