In a relationship, the seven-year itch is defined as a critical juncture, a time when couples start to re-evaluate their bond and decide that they are either satisfied or might want to consider alternatives. For movie lovers of a certain vintage, the phrase is indelibly linked to the image of a beauteous Marilyn Monroe, laughing as she attempts to hold down her white dress being billowed up by the air from a subway grate. Her exposed legs, wide smile and closed eyes suggest a rush of joy. Even if you’ve never seen the 1955 Billy Wilder film, chances are you know the iconic pose.
Film Companion celebrates seven years this month. It is a milestone birthday – not because like romantic couples, we are grappling with the existential crisis of ‘to be or not to be.’ But because in the midst of a global pandemic, the very fact that we continue to exist is a minor miracle. It’s been a tough fifteen months. The Film Companion office shut down on March 12, 2020, one week before the government officially imposed a lockdown. Since then, I have done one interview in person – with the team of The Family Man (we all did Covid tests and sat five feet apart, outdoors – the set-up was in an emptied-out infant pool at a suburban hotel). The FC team has scattered across India. The natural attrition over this period has meant that we are now working with colleagues we’ve never met. We connect online, confined in Zoom boxes, attempting to forge relationships and team spirit.
The distance and difficulty of this hasn’t dimmed our passion for the job at hand – to bring you entertainment journalism – in video and text – that is intelligent, invigorating and informed. As streaming platforms proliferate (at last count, there were over 40 in the country), offering thousands of hours of content, our critics watch, curate and hopefully, save you time. Our FC Gold label (awarded to outstanding storytelling and loosely inspired by the Michelin star system) helps to guide our audience to the best new films and shows. In November, we launched Front Row, an online collective (a sort of 2.0 version of the film society) that enables us to gather around storytelling and artists. The guests have ranged from Sharmila Tagore to Sumukhi Suresh, from A.R. Rahman to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos.
Admittedly, there are miles to go – like the entertainment business at large, the pandemic has battered our bottom line. It’s harder to monetize, market and find eyeballs. At the risk of sounding grandiose, I will admit to days when I feel an overt kinship with Sisyphus pushing that rock up a hill. I wonder what possessed me to imagine that I could be an editor-entrepreneur? But I see a good film (lately, these seem to be mostly from Kerala) and the anxiety passes.
It’s a gut-churning, giddy, exciting time – for showbiz at large and Film Companion in particular. Thank you for your continued support and engagement. To paraphrase a line from Jerry Maguire – you complete us! Here’s celebrating another year of companionship.