CHAT Film critic Anna MM Vetticad on her unique experiment, and the book that derived from it
This is the 100th year of Hindi cinema, and the landmark has occasioned several books on films. The books focus on different aspects of the industry, and reflect various shades of film love. In Anna MM Vetticad’s The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic (Om Books International), the love is of the masochistic variety. An account of a year spent at the movies, the book is “about self-inflicted pain and the pleasure derived thereof,” she writes.
In 2011, Anna, a film critic who has written for various publications and hosted a show, pledged to review every Bollywood film released in the National Capital Region on her blog. By the end of the year, she had clocked 121 reviews, of films ranging from the sublime to the downright pathetic – with Onir’s I am on the one hand and films like Tension Doooor, Ye Stupid Pyar and Chitkabrey – Shades of Grey on the other.
A “physically exhausting, financially consuming, intellectually draining exercise” like this required deep reserves of motivation. Anna’s stemmed from a combination of free time and a journalist’s curiosity about these films that “one sees in the listings week in and week out but nobody in any publication is covering.” “Who was making these films? Why were they not publicising these films? Are these horrible films? Are these wonderful films?…I decided ‘let me go and watch all these films.’ Once this exercise started, it took on a life of its own because I felt this urge to locate the people making these films,” she says.
But to describe the book as one that deals with merely the obscure and wonderful, or the obscure and horrible, would be incorrect. “I have spent considerable time discussing new releasing and marketing strategies of big films, I have quoted people from Reliance, Viacom, I have done extensive interviews with Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Rohit Shetty. The difference between my coverage of big and small films is that with the big films I had to make the effort to tell you something you don’t already don’t know. But with the small films I have ended up giving you a lot of basic information about people who made them. I’d like to believe that while the book is an overview of the film industry, it is a celebration of the good small film,” she adds.