We started Bollykings with the sole purpose of giving honest and credible movie reviews of popular films that were being churned out of the huge film factory known as Bollywood. Along the way, we have often questioned what it is that we look out for when reviewing a movie. How does one review a movie? Do you simply rate based on how the movie made you feel or do you look beneath the surface – at seemingly boring aspects such as the style of filmmaking or the pace of the story?
We have often asked and looked around for answers to this question and there are usually 9 aspects which one should look out for:
1. Was the movie engaging?
The most important aspect of any movie is how interesting it was. If you’ve ever gotten so lost in the movie that you totally forget the reality (most recently, it happened when I was watching Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara), it means the movie is good. Really, really good.
The music in itself might be so-so, or the screenplay dodgy. But was the movie engaging on the whole? For me, this is what determines how good a movie is.
If there’s any point in the movie when my thoughts wander, or if I’m constantly shifting in my seat, getting impatient, it’s usually one of those films which makes you want to leave before the interval.
A good film hardly allows such moments.
Remember that time when you heard Akshay Kumar say something that sounded… a little off? Conversations in movies are quite different from those in real life.
For example in Don, Amitabh Bachchan rotates his neck, shows his teeth, with a cigarette in one hand and says, ‘Don ko pakadna mushkil hee nahin… namumkin hai.” Imagine a real life crook saying this dialogue.
Filmy dialogues sound artificial in real life, and real-life dialogues sound artificial in films. It’s not a written rule, this, but it’s an observation from a die-hard filmy-fan.
The dialogues have to be absolutely crisp, sound believable and larger-than-life at the same time.
Is what you’re watching making sense? Did it have some connection to the central theme, or the movie itself? A good movie will have VERY few such scenes that only increase the length of the film. It’s like… a hamburger with a box that’s too big. Or a chewing gum that has been stretched till breaking point.
Bollywood filmmakers are an expert in making movies which don’t make any sense at all. Take the latest, Ra.One for instance.
I can think of one movie: Dum Maaro Dum. Before the intermission, we start from different times and dates, and at the end of the first half, all the scenes make sense!
I didn’t give this one priority because whilst I agree it’s an important constituent of a good film, it’s not something that a good film can not do without. I mean, I can totally think of Abhay Deol at this point of time. That guy doesn’t act as well as SRK or Priyanka Chopra, but aren’t his films [barring Aisha!] fantastic? Remember Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!? Road, Movie? or Dev D for that matter? You feel angry at his bad acting, but still end up calling it a film good!
What I believe is, good performances make a good film BETTER. Bad performances don’t make a good film bad, but yes, due to the frustration of the viewer, they definitely make a bad film WORSE.
When was the last time you downloaded a movie from the internet? While we strongly recommend that you purchase Original DVDs, it’s still narrow-minded to assume that the world does that. Here’s the thing: if, for example, you watched 3 Idiots, and couldn’t hear anything properly, would you have called the film good?
When you download a movie, you can watch it if it has a bad picture quality but good audio. But it’s IMPOSSIBLE to watch a movie with bad audio quality. Try it! High audio quality is a MUST for a film to be good. I mean, who’s going to be happy checking your paper if your handwriting is as unreadable as anything?
Expectation is a double edged sword. When it comes to films, expectations can either be a boon or a bane. The weight of expectation caused films like Ra.One and Kites to not be, well, as great as they could have been if they hadn’t been so hyped up.
On the other hand, expectations also be a blessing in disguise. I had very little expectation with Band Baaja Baraat but when I went and saw the movie, I realized it was a pretty well made flick. If you walk into a theatre expecting nothing and instead get a fresh dose of good humour, good flow, an obvious storyline and decent performances, the film is automatically put in the ‘good’ category.
Again, I don’t give this that priority that other film critics give it. A simple story, with good everything that’s above this, can be a great film. Remember A Wednesday? Very simple: bombs planted. Threats to the police. Simple story. But a great flow, great dialogues, good performances, very thoughtful [hence, it makes sense], made it a brilliant story [of course, the way it ends is the most awesome factor of all which brings us to our next point.
8. The End
The End? Seriously? How does it affect a movie?
Well ask yourself this: Did you or did you not cry when Jack dies in Titanic? Or when Devdas dies in..well, Devdas? Would you have liked these movies if the characters had survived? Perhaps. But the impact would've been greatly reduced.
Sometimes, the climax of a movie can change everything about it.
The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction are two of my favorite movies because of how they ended. In fact, Pulp Fiction had a non-linear story line and it was crucial for Tarantino to nail the climax.
Conversely, I didn’t love Rockstar so much because the movie was open-ended. It lacked that punch which was sorely needed to finish of an otherwise excellent tale.
9. Do you FEEL IT?
If you can ‘feel’ a movie, it means the combined effect of flow, dialogues, performances, ending, audio and story has had an effect on you.
If what you’re watching evokes pure emotion in you, then it’s good. If it moves you in some way to take some action, then it’s really good. If it changes something inside you (opinions for example), then it’s brilliant. Rang De Basanti inspired people in real life to stand against the flawed judiciary and do something. A feat very few movies have accomplished.
Hence, if nothing else suits you, you can simply sit on that chair at the end of the movie, and check if you’re lost in thought and wonder, or you’re walking out in a hurry, cursing Ram Gopal Varma [said in good humour]. It can help you judge in an instant.