Saturday, August 10, 2013

Confessions of a Film Blogger Who is a Lady.

Dear Friends,

I've received some very hateful comments recently and because I would prefer not to receive hateful comments, please allow me to take a minute and explain a little about who I am and what I do.

If you haven't noticed already, there is absolutely no advertising on this blog--that means not only no ads but absolutely no paid content is posted. And, on top of that, I have never received payment of any sort for anything I've written for this blog or any other outlet. Ever.

Here is what I think everybody needs to understand: I have had offers of money and I've always turned them down. I'm not writing this blog to make money now and I'm certainly not writing to get popular and make money later. "Filmi Girl" is purely a labor of love; I have a regular job which treats me very well and I have no desire to leave it. I don't want to be an actress or a model or be on TV or spend my time writing 250 word synopses of press releases from D-list actresses. All I want to do with this blog is write about films and pop culture.

Odd as it may seem, I do enjoy getting up early and combing through the news; I enjoy catching new films and discussing them with folks. When I write my news posts, I'm not selecting stories based on any other criteria than what I find interesting or funny and what would make for a good discussion. When I write about a certain actor or actress or film that I dislike, it's not because I'm going out of my way to hate on them but that their press coverage is so overwhelming that I'll see the same quote or story cycled in dozens of press outlets.

Let me give you an example. If I read one article gushing about Priyanka Chopra at the Planes premiere with D-listers Ashlee Simpson and Dane Cook, it's easy to laugh at the PR in action and scroll past. But when I see 20 articles in a row, all either based on the gushing press release or talking about the "buzz" that's been manufactured by the very outlets cycling the gushing press release, the laughter turns to annoyance and I may post something sarcastic about it.

Frankly, I find it kind of insulting to be told to post more "positive" stuff. I've actually enjoyed quite a few films this year from Chashme Baddoor to Ranjhaana to Go Goa Gone and when given a good opportunity, I'm more than happy to go on and on about my love of Akshay Kumar.

What I'm going to say next could come out wrong so please understand that I say this with the greatest kindness and sincerity: I really do write only to put my opinions out there for discussion. I'm certainly not afraid of intellectual critique and over the years I've had plenty of interesting discussions with people who disagree with me on one point or another. (Hi, Moimeme!) I like a film that ends with a nice moral about how money is evil; other people like films that end in a celebration of romantic love. One is not objectively better than the other and if I say I dislike the latter, it's not a declaration of war against anybody who enjoys that kind of thing.

So, please don't waste your time hating me and my opinions, please just close the browser window and move on. They aren't going to affect box office returns and they aren't going to kill somebody's career. My opinions are just my opinions; some people enjoy discussing things with me and some people don't. That's okay. I don't expect everybody to like me or agree with me; there are plenty of people in real life who find me to be overly opinionated about things.

I happen to enjoy writing about sociology and meta-narrative subtext, semiotics, and the media. I love slapstick and loathe consumerist romantic-comedies. I will see any Akshay Kumar film in the theaters and liked Tees Maar Khan enough to go see it twice in one day. I dislike irony and humor that relies on camp readings of vintage Bollywood. I love hero introduction songs, good punch lines, socially aware morals, Mumaith Khan items, Amitabh Bachchan's 1970s films, and Santhanam's comedy. There are a lot of wonderful bloggers out there who write very positively about upcoming films and other wonderful bloggers who post pictures of actresses in pretty dresses and still more wonderful bloggers who love poking fun at Bollywood camp.

I was going to suggest The Daily Honey but she seems to have quit? But there is the very-PRO Shahrukh Khan Get Filmy and Miss Malini and High Heel Confidential as well as outlets like Bolly Spice. You may also like One Knight Stands for a humorous take on things.

Lastly--if you'll indulge me for just a few more lines--I would like to share something I've learned over the last few years of following the daily entertainment press: Box office numbers mean nothing. There is a wonderful book called Proofiness that explains how advertising agencies and public relations firms and politicians can manipulate numbers to say anything that they want. Ask yourself what it really says when the press outlets start following the horse race of collections. Will Film A beat the collections total of Film B? Will either film beat 3 Idiots?! Those collections totals are affected by a lot of different things--number of screens, ticket prices, which outlet is reporting, etc.--and a clever journalist can make even a Tusshar Kapoor flop sound like a Soooooooper Hit. (You know like, "Tusshy's new film beat Don's first day collection totals in multiplexes in Singapore! What your back, King Khan!")

Even the industry can't agree on what film earned what. Depending on who you ask, Singham is either a 100 Crore Club film or not. If they can't even decide on that years later, how are we supposed to trust the numbers trickling out from Taran Adarsh mere hours after a film opens?

Just some food for thought.


odadune said...

Well-said. This is as good a mission statement for a blog as I've ever seen.

You were one of the first bloggers on desi films that I started reading, years ago. I think you might have been on either wordpress or livejournal at the time. I discovered Anamika and Paapi through your blog, both films that were very influential in getting me interested in Sanjeev Kumar and through him the oldies.

I saw Tashan early in my bollywatching career, too early to get the most of the references without the help of reviews like yours. At times when the English-speaking fandom, or the parts I was most familiar with, seemed determined to imply Salman/Akshay/Sanjay were awful people onscreen and off whom nobody had any business liking, you were one of the more inclusive voices. And when I got interested in a certain actor again after a hiatus of a few years, your blog archives were here to tell me what I'd missed.

So um, yeah. I haven't always agreed with you* over the years but I hope to keep reading you as long as you feel like writing about filmi things.

*I hope it has come off as polite and low-volume when I've expressed that disagreement in comments; alot of times I'm tapping my thoughts out frantically before going off to take care of other stuff.

Dee B. said...

I am an Indian living in Mumbai, and the only reason I check your blog everyday is BECAUSE of your take on things. If I wanted to read PR fluff, I could pretty much do that anywhere else.

PS: On the lungi dance post, I had had a really similar conversation on it with my colleagues (before I read your post) and I was pretty much the only one who found it exploitative. Isn't it pretty funny that I have to read the blog of a "gori" for a balanced view of Bollywood while living in Bollywood-land myself!

No offence meant - while I don't always agree with you, what I think I like most about your blog is the ability to bring the lens of an outsider (that lets you call out the racism and sexism shit) with the affection of an insider

So, please don't change!

Archee ologist said...

Hi FG again

I was first going to email this to you. But since my comment was public, my apology must be public too.

I remember when I was little, my parents used to read a newspaper loyally. One day, the found that the newspaper had changed formatting. The mere visual change was too much for them to take and they felt a sense of unease that they could not define. Similarly, over the last few years, I have read your blog and your commentaries loyally. What started as mere procrastination from work, quickly became habit - so much so that I have eagerly waited for you to come back through each hiatus you took. I probably first came here for the gossip, but I stayed for the commentary and analyses. Indeed, the majority of my opinion on current Bollywood now comes through your blog.

I apologize if my earlier comments came across as uncouth, insulting, impolite or inappropriate. That is not the vein in which I wanted to write. I have disagreed with some of your opinion in the past, and we have enjoyed discussion on your blog. But for some reason, my last comments probably came across as insulting to you. I think I merely meant that as friendly advice - when a friend goes through disenchantment with a person, professor or an author, we just ask the friend to shut them out. Having read your blog for years, I may have felt compelled to reach out to you. Like a star-fan relation itself, I perhaps developed a sense of ownership and relationship, which really existed only unilaterally. I should not have tried to invade your space, or dictate your blog, or cause offence - and I meant not to. You are not answerable to your reader. I remember you once describing an offer of money at the cost of your content - an offer which you declined. Your opinion is important not to you alone, but to the reader - your opinion is what brings us to the blog in the first place!

I am no particular fan of the stars you were discussing, anyway. Indeed, I disliked Deepika Padukone when you disliked her a few years ago. I find myself more tolerant of her now, as a result of reading your blog. I have no strong opinions on Shahrukh Khan or the others too. I did not disagree with any comment on Chennai Express itself. I was merely overwhelmed with the amount of coverage.

I completely respect your space and your opinion. Since I came across as degrading - I apologize. I hope the tone of this message will not be misleading as the last one. My parents did not stop reading their favorite newspaper after the formatting changed. The initial unease subsided soon and they continued to follow the newspaper. So will I.

Moimeme said...

Good Heavens, what prompted this? Did you get a lot of hate comments? I don't know when you posted this, but am only seeing it very late Saturday night, or more properly very early Sunday morning. And here I was thinking you were happily enjoying your "camping" trip.

As Archee ologist said above, you have now become a "star" blogger, and as such, must expect the hate along with the love. Indeed, some people were claiming that the "hate" comments posted on youtube for the Besharam trailer were proof that Ranbir has now arrived as a superstar. So maybe you should look at things from that perspective? Archee got one thing right. You do have a lot of fans, and your pronouncements are quoted as the final word in a lot of places that you may not even be aware of. I realize that you do not intend them to be the final word, but that's just a measure of the respect and clout that your word carries. But also as Archee said, that should not curtail your freedom of expression.

I'm still confused whether to feel proud or guilty at your mention of me specifically as one of your dissenters (only on some occasions, though). :)

Filmi Girl said...

@moimeme My brother got his dates mixed up!!! He had work this weekend after all... :((( We going to try and reschedule something fun. And you are one of the few commenters I can trust to give me a (respectful) kick in the pants when I'm being silly. XD

But star blogger?! Not to pull an SRK "humble" moment but I don't know about that tag... I've tried to stay out of the spotlight as much as I can. (Never letting my real name get quoted, etc.)

I do this strictly for fun and I'm very grateful that people enjoy reading and discussing things with me but SRK's movie is not going to flop because I'm annoyed at his promotions and write about it, you know?

@Odadune I love your comments! Especially when you disagree! Disagreement keeps me honest--and you're very polite about it.

@Dee Wow!! Thank you so much! I appreciate the support. :)

@Archee THANK YOU! I really appreciate that. I totally understand and there are no hard feelings on my end. :))) I also got caught up in the hype--it's hard not to--and because I knew I wasn't going to see the film, I went around reading reviews (which is something I usually don't do until AFTER I see a film.) I figured if I was curious, other people would be, too. SRK is such an odd media figure. He hypes himself up but his product (lately) rarely seems worth the effort. Even people who enjoyed the movie were saying "one time watch" and that dissonance of "biggest ever blah blah blah" and "one time watch" was intoxicating. So I apologize for the spam coverage on FB. Getting carried away with things is one reason I don't have a smart phone.

I absolutely don't mind disagreement and I do hope you keep reading! I try my best and enjoy writing. If I've been disenchanted with some things lately... well, maybe after we get a run of Akshay and Shahid and Ranveer and Sushant and Hrithik and Aamir and Salman, I'll feel more positive. :)

All the best!!!!

Tobi said...

You already have plenty of nice comments here but I just wanted to add mine too. What I love most about your blog is the fact that it's not a mutual-appreciation-society type of blog, where everybody agrees about everything and are kind of self-congratulatory about it. I mean, I do love me some mutual-appreciation, but I think it's good to have some respectfully-disagree-ability too.

Also you were very polite when u replied to my comment about being undecided about seeing CE even though I purge SRK. Given your feelings on both the man and the movie, u could've easily given me a big dose of snark instead.

So, to summarise: thanks very much for your great blog!

Tobi said...

Uh-oh, autocorrect: it was supposed to say love SRK. Somehow I think u might prefer the idea of purging him tho?

Sunny Figueriedo said...

Hello FG,
I'm one of the people who suggested to write more positive things I guess, and I wanted to say I'm really sorry that it offended you. I misinterpreted your last posts and thought that the media coverage was annoying you, and that actually you were somehow angry writing those posts or frustrated to have only this news to convey and would prefer to write something else... I really didn't want to limit your right of expressing yourself. So please accept my sincere apologies.
I really enjoy reading your blog and value your opinions, because you have different tastes from me and you made me interested in movies I would have probably dismissed were it not for your opinion.

Filmi Girl said...

@Tobi Thank you for your comments!! I do try to be fair... as much as I can, anyways. :)) Mutual appreciation societies are no fun, huh? Nobody agrees 100% with everything and as long as we respect each other we can disagree and still be friends. :))

@Sunny Thank you!! I understand what you're saying now. One thing about writing this blog every day is that you get to read my feelings day after day after day. Sometimes I'm happy and sometimes annoyed. Not everything will be sunshine all the time and sometimes I have more fun writing about how silly some producer's son is than about a film I genuinely enjoyed. ;)

I'm usually not actually angry in real life. :)

To be fair, though there is something about the SRK media hype that fries my circuits! I think the last time it was this bad was... *dum dum dummmmm* Ra.One. I think it's because--unlike some of the other heroes--SRK really seems to enjoy the promotion process and indulges himself with it to a crazy extent. Although I guess it does bring in the money...

Anyways, I'm glad I could get you to take a look at some films you not have otherwise seen! It's useful to see things from different perspectives every once in a while. :)

BCCI is best said...

Hey FG ! Have been a regular reader of yours and rarely commented. Just one message keep up the good work and don't let criticism ( hateful comments from fanboys/girls) bother you.

Btw,if you were overwhelmed with the promotions you should have imagined our plight in india in the hindi heartland. All TV channels,radio,news shows ( can you imagine news for chrisake),reality shows even saas bahu dramas you name it and shahrukh was there promoting the film. Sometimes it becomes nauseating and even revolting and I decided I am going to skip not just this movie but even TV and radio for this month.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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