What do you do when you are faced with the prospect of watching a truly Bad film? Option A: run for your life. Option B: grin and bear it.
I am one of those people who have to choose B. Because running away, for a card-carrying film critic, is never an option, even though every sinew is straining towards the exit.
Here, I will make a confession. I can handle Bad Bollywood easier than Bad Hollywood, because the former is mine, and we indulge our own. Also, the film has to be so-bad-it-is-unbearable for me to give up on it, because my threshold of pain is really, really low. A film can hit rock-bottom, and I will still be sailing along, just to see if it can get worse. And most often than not, it does.
An immutable law of nature decrees that there will be many more terrible films than there are great ones. I will tell you how to watch a really Bad film, with a few pro-tips culled from long practice. And I’m not talking about the determinedly B-grade or C-grade movies whose calling cards are precisely that they are bad. These would include schlocky-smutty-cheapo- grindhouse-slashers or gorefests featuring three-eyed aliens and the undead: you know exactly what you are getting into with these, and the glee with which I pounce upon these is almost unseemly. These are Bad, Bad movies, and they do not pretend to be anything else.
I’m talking about the flicks that are So Bad It’s Good (SBIG). I’m talking A-list, toplined by bonafide stars and big budgets and award-winning directors. Films that come to us on waves of great advance hype and positive spins. As canny audiences, we can sniff the bad ’uns from a mile. But the key is to figure just which kind of bad the film is. If it is dull along with being bad, then there’s nothing that can save you. The only way I manage to stick to those is to periodically close my eyes and pray for early deliverance.
Mostly, you will encounter a truck-load of garden-variety bad, which you can divide on a scale of bad-badder-baddest. Awful. Terrible. Ghastly. If you’re lucky, along will come a film which will make the SBIG category, and that’s the one to hold on to.
For your genuine gold-plated SBIG film, you need a handy survival kit. The moment you feel the tingle, be aware. Is Mithun squaring up to a Gunda? Is Govinda looking more paunchy than raunchy in Naughty at 40? Is Akshay swimming with plastic sharks, threatening to bleed Blue (see picture)? Is Katrina about to shake-shake-shake into a second ‘jawani’? Is Arnie threatening to come back again? Or, and this is truly among my worst nightmares, is that toy car going to turn into
YET ANOTHER DARNED ROBOT?
And don’t even get me started on all those Hollywood clunkity-clunks which serve up three hours of CGI in the name of cinema. To the studios, they may be the baap of all franchise films, which will keep making them money till there are kids who can harass their parents into buying them soft toys based on the movie characters. To me, they are the emperors of evil, having snuffed out all life from films that have a beating human heart.
You will need the courage, fortitude, and endurance of the long-distance runner to get through these films. Back in the day, you were captive to the big screen and you could only escape if you left the theatre. Now you have smart handsets which you can diddle with. If what’s in front of you is infuriating, go right ahead and vanish into your gadget. Keep raising your head from time to time just to reassure your companion you are still around. Just make sure you curve your hand around the phone so that the light doesn’t spill over: nothing can be more annoying, not even the trashiest movie.
But when you encounter a hundred carat so-bad-its-great film, abandon all restraint, and rejoice. In an ever changeable world, the SBIG film is a gift that keeps giving. The pure, untrammelled joy of that film is beyond fresh caviar and the best bubbly. Trust me, I’ve done years in these trenches. Do not fight. Do not resist. Just give in. And you will attain nirvana.