In a new series, FC Critics Survey, every few weeks we ask a handful of film critics one question. This week we ask – which film have you changed your mind about over time?
Tamasha – Rahul Desai, Film Companion
A lot of ’90s movies might have qualified here. But my change of opinion would have had more to do with physical factors – fading nostalgia, or the fact that craft generally ages badly, the plots feel dated in context of the ever-changing sociocultural landscape, and my own evolution as an Indian movie enthusiast. Which is why my choice here is a modern and ideological challenger: Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha. To an extent where I don’t understand – or want to remember – the person I was, when I watched Tamasha alone on a Friday in 2015. Maybe I was stressed about a review deadline; I chose to lazily dismiss its radical form instead of taking the effort to *get* it. The film speaks to me today, after a little more experience, a little more heartbreak and existentialism. Maybe it’s poetic that my reaction, in reflection of the film’s central character, has been equally dichotomous. Like Ved, the Rahul of 2015 was in a rat-race, a slave to routine and survival. The film today makes me feel like I’ve always been the guy (Don, even) in Corsica, or all the lands and people I’ve loved since.
Black – Shubhra Gupta, The Indian Express
So I’ve almost never changed my mind, but then I’ve almost never done a ‘repeat viewing’ of a film. Except maybe Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Black’, which I saw a second time while writing my book : I didn’t love it as much as I did when I first saw it—the baroqueness bothered me a little more because I felt it weighed upon the story more ; also Mr Bachchan’s teacher’s rough handling of the challenged young girl was not appropriate in the least, particularly in one scene in which he drags her off and shouts at her.
Kadal – Vishal Menon, Film Companion
The first film that comes to mind has to be Mani Ratnam’s Kadal. It’s a film I deeply disliked on first viewing. I went in expecting a love story but what I got was something totally different. But there was something about it that warranted a second viewing. Even when I’d switched off from the film the first time I remember being blown away by a scene where its lead helps a woman give birth to her baby. At this point, Thomas has already started living a life in crime and yet when the blood of the newborn baby paints his hands, he understands that blood is as much about life as it is about death. On second viewing, even the film’s first shot registered something deeper. A man walks into the frame that’s divided into two halves by a cross. In a sense, the film too is about where you stand in your relationship with God. So very Bergman I thought and it’s no coincidence because the ‘villain’ in the film is named Bergmans.
Even Beatrice as a character requires further reading. She may appear like the quintessential ‘Loosu Ponnu’ the first time but you soon realise why she’s much more. She wears white, she’s almost irritatingly innocent and she always appears to be at a height when compared to where Thomas in standing. In other words, she’s an angel…literally. Even the film’s lighting impresses. When Celina lies in church to implicate Father Sam Fernando, notice how the halo-like light that surrounds her suddenly vanishes. It’s God looking the other way when a sin is being committed. Which is why the film is so much more than just a love story. A boy is torn between God and Satan, both competing for his soul. It’s a film that still disappoints on the surface but if you dig deep, it really can be a goldmine.
Reservoir Dogs – Sudhir Srinivasan, Entertainment Editor, The New Indian Express; Editor, Cinema Express
In a sense, a brush with a new film is like an encounter with a new person. With some people, you forge an instant bond, fleeting or otherwise. Some others, you hope never to see again. But there’s a third type: The ones you are not yet ready for. Perhaps the film is — what’s that overused phrase — ahead of its time. Or perhaps, and I think this is more likely, you aren’t yet formed — for the film. Take me, for instance. I was barely a teen when I first caught Quentin Tarantino‘s Reservoir Dogs. CDs, ftw. It was a time in the 90s, at least for those of my age, when Hollywood cinema meant pulsating action and/or world-ending cataclysm. Or revived dinosaurs. A friend recommended this film, and I figured it was likely about mutated blood-thirsty dogs that prowled around a large lake.
Pretty soon, it became apparent that this wasn’t that sort of film. It was unlike anything I’d seen till then. A bunch of suit-sporting gangsters who had colours for names. I didn’t realise then that the one who went by the name Mr. Brown was the director. The friend had told me this was a heist film, and so, I waited and waited for the sequence when all hell would break loose, when the criminals would all begin shooting, when policemen would pursue them in an unending chase sequence that involved choppers. Only, it never arrived, and the film ended. To borrow the words of Mr. Blonde, this seemed like a film that barked all day without biting.
Many summers later, a thing called the internet took over, causing me to realise there was more to international cinema than heroes in America preventing the end of the world (although it perhaps needs to be reconsidered now). I gave Reservoir Dogs another go. But this time though, I was formed for it. The idea of a heist film that doesn’t show the actual heist? The idea of hyper-realistic violence calculatedly created to disturb? The idea of everyday dialogues about the kind of topics you and I usually shout ourselves hoarse about? Yes, yes, and yes! Everything worked. It’s not a popular opinion, but I suspect I now like this film better than Pulp Fiction. But hey, that’s a conversation for another day. The sort that Tarantino films are likely to begin with.
Troy Ribeiro, IANS
Honestly, none as a film critic. However, prior to being a film critic, my views on some classics changed drastically, once I did the Film Appreciation Course from FTII, Pune. Initially many renowned directors like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Girish Kasaravalli meant nothing to me. Their films were interesting but mostly boring. But after learning about the cinematic universe, space and time I started appreciating films with a different mindset. And today, Korean director Kim Ki-duk’s films fascinate me and I look forward to seeing his films. Every time I see his 3 Iron or Hwal (The Bow), I find something or the other, to appreciate.