A film so bad that it’s good? If you’re looking for such gems, a YouTube channel and a Pakistani blog is what you need
Pop quiz: what do Gunda, Main Prem ki Diwani Hoon, Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani and Aap Kaa Surroor have in common? Apart from being films with mind-boggling plot lines and bad acting, these four films have also made two boys from Bangalore famous in desi cyberspace. Biswa Kalyan Rath and Kanan Gill are familiar faces in the city’s live comedy scene but have amassed a wider following, thanks to their hilarious reviews of these films.
The criteria for the reviews is simple. “Old, bad and famous,” says Rath, 25, who works for a software company. Gill, also 25, used to develop software for an IT company and somewhere along the way, started doing comedy. “We have been doing stand up for one-and-a-half years and we decided to shoot a video about these films to reach to a wider audience,” he says. The videos, titled Pretentious Movie Reviews, are shot in Gill’s room and feature the two sitting behind a desk while they introduce the film, a gist of the plot and then proceed to run through the ridiculous highlights of the film, one frame at a time. “What we try to bring to the table is not how bad these movies are, but the absurdity of these movies in a way that connects with the audience,” says Rath.
Funny film reviews are not new but few have successfully attempted them. Sahil Rizwan’s The Vigil Idiot was a hugely popular blog before it was picked up by a tabloid. His reviews outlined the plot with stick figures and original dialogue between them. Rath and Gill’s videos range from conversations about Hrithik Roshan’s MDMA-enabled energetic performance in Main Prem ki Diwani Hoon and the unadulterated joy that is Pankaj Kapoor’s flying sequence to the dated visual effects, casting overload and irrefutable logic in Jaani Dushman.
Blogging is hard work. “It usually takes an hour or two of tossing ideas around to generate a rough script and structure for the review. After that we improvise while filming to cover the gaps. We film more for each review. The first review we did was just about an hour of footage, the most recent one was over five hours. I edit the video and it’s easily the biggest bottleneck in the process,” says Gill. The duo are currently working on a new video, featuring Honest Salman Khan. “We’re trying to hire a team so that we don’t have to do everything and can put out more content, more often,” he says.
Across the border, in Karachi, Pakistan, Imaan Sheikh is juggling time between her day-job as a sub-editor in a daily and her blog where she uploads screenshots of ’90s movies such as Dil to Pagal Hai and more recent fare like Dhoom 3, with comments and observations that leave readers in stitches. “I thought Dhoom 3 was stupid and I wrote about it. I only wanted to share it with my friends and it blew up, which was unexpected,” says Sheikh, 25, who retells the plot with images and a dash of current pop culture and internet lingo thrown in. Photoshop is a faithful friend and Sheikh uses it to great effect to add plot twists.
While she blogs about new releases, Sheikh’s reviews of ’90s films have made her popular on social media. “I think it’s the nostalgia value. I watched them with my family growing up and I find childhood memories to be one of the best things to relate to,” she says. Will she move to vlogging? “YouTube is blocked in Pakistan, so I’ll stick to writing on my blog and for websites like Buzzfeed. When I find people across borders saying, ‘oh, I thought the same thing when I watched the film!’ it makes me very happy,” says Sheikh.