While films are often critiqued for their cinematic elements and narrative structures, the true testament of a movie’s success is its audience reception. This disconnect between film critics and movie-goers is a frequent occurrence in the Indian film industry, with many movies dismissed by critics, but embraced by the public. Let’s dive into seven such Indian movies that stood firm in the face of criticism and found resonance with audiences:
Hum Aapke Hain Koun :
This lavish Bollywood family drama, directed by Sooraj Barjatya was accused by critics of being too melodramatic and focusing excessively on lavish aesthetics. Most of them labelled it a disaster. Yet, despite releasing on just 300 screens or so, it struck a chord with viewers. They loved the emotive performances, memorable music, and the narrative’s emphasis on familial bonds, values, and traditions – elements that resonate deeply in Indian culture. No wonder why “Hum Aapke Hain Koun” is still one of the greatest Indian films of all time, both critically and commercially.
When this film clashed with the eponymous “Lagaan”, a section of critics made it their mission to pull this film down by all possible means. In Anil Sharma’s own words, he was a bit disappointed when some critics went on to label it “Gutter: Ek Prem Katha”.
However, the critics were in for a rude shock, as the audiences thronged to the cinema halls in droves. Despite multiple protests and selective criticism levied at the same, the film became one of the greatest Indian blockbusters of all time, leaving Lagaan far behind in its total theatrical run.
Krrish Series [2006 onwards]:
Yes, you heard that right. Criticized for its predictable plotlines and over-the-top execution, this superhero franchise was, nonetheless, a hit among the audience. The series’ appeal lies in its novelty; as one of India’s first superhero series, it catered to a craving for Indian representations in the genre. Audiences appreciated the indigenous superhero, leading to significant commercial success.
Imagine a Salman Khan film that is actually entertaining and intriguing. It is rare, but then Abhinav Singh Kashyap decided to prove the masses wrong. Starring Salman Khan as Chulbul Pandey, a trigger-happy cop with his own set of rules, film Dabangg was initially panned by the critics on the grounds of predictability, violence as the list went on.
However, the audience cared two hoots about it as they made this film a towering success. The movie went on to inspire multiple sequels and remakes.
This was the movie, where the entrenched ideological bias of the so called film critics came out in the open. Right from the first look, the movie was under the radar of opinionated critics, who shrieked “Toxic Nationalism” at the top of their lungs.
What was an anomaly with “Parmanu” turned into a nauseating trend with the release of the movie, as critics declared it an attempt to pander to the sentiments of the ruling dispensation. It was another matter that the masses trashed their opinions into the bin, making the directorial debut of Aditya Dhar a massive blockbuster.
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior :
What happened with “Uri: The Surgical Strike” was only the beginning. Never did Om Raut think in his wildest dreams that his debut Hindi movie, “Tanhaji : the Unsung Warrior”, would be subject to such ruthless criticism. Like what happened with “Gadar”, critics left no stone unturned in order to make sure that the movie flops, while singing paeans for the movie clashing with the same, in this case being Deepika Padukone’s “Chhapaak”.
However, once again, they underestimated the intellect of the audience as they thronged the theaters for the Ajay Devgn starrer movie, based on the exploits of Subedar Tanaji Malusare. Unlike “Lagaan”, “Chhapaak” made the matters for itself worse with the unceremonious visit of Deepika Padukone to JNU in the light of the anti CAA Protests. The rest, as they say, is history.
Imagine someone saying that a movie, depicting Vikram Batra as the uber cool braveheart that he was, is not upto the mark, despite evidence strongly against the same. But hey, these are Indian critics, who like the “Naaraaz Fufas” at every wedding, find one reason or the other in lambasting even a good film, just like they did with Vishnu Vardhan’s “Shershaah”. However, despite being an OTT film, the movie was a rage amongst the masses, reducing the critics to a laughing stock.
These films highlight the intricate dynamics between critical reviews and audience preferences. While critics analyze films based on technicalities and aesthetics, audiences often look for elements of relatability, entertainment, and escape from reality. This disconnect reveals the varied priorities within the film-viewing community, highlighting that movies can serve different purposes for different viewers. The beauty of cinema lies in this diversity, where each film finds its unique audience, irrespective of the critical acclaim (or lack thereof).
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