If Amitabh Bachchan probably hadn’t laughed and punctured the tension, filmmaker R Balki would have enjoyed his fleeting, sinister thought a lot more: to “bump off” vicious film critics who get away with no accountability.
Balki, whose latest feature Chup follows the story of a serial killer hunting film critics, says he had stopped reading reviews after a reputed critic slammed his debut film Cheeni Kum to a point where the filmmaker was in depression post the harsh attack.
In an interview with Galatta Plus, the filmmaker said Cheeni Kum opened to a thundering response during its London premiere in 2007. When he was back to India, hoping that the film would meet similar reactions, he was stunned when he read a review.
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“In those days, there was one very influential reviewer… When I opened the paper, I saw I was thrashed to pieces, that it (film) was rubbish. Nonsense was written. First, I was so stunned that somebody can be so vicious. Why was somebody so angry with a happy film, I could not understand this entire thing. So I just went into actual depression,” Balki said.
The filmmaker said Amitabh Bachchan tried talking to him, making him realise that the world at large was talking about Cheeni Kum positively and he should not be fixated on one bad review. Balki also revealed that the megastar had told him that the review of Cheeni Kum was full of “agenda.”
“Amit ji tried calling me and afterwards we spoke, and he said the world is loving it, people have written such wonderful things and said is that one fellow’s review so important to you. He told me that people have these agendas. Apparently, it was an agenda filled review for some other reason. I had no clue how the industry works.
“A month after the film, I met Amit ji and told him how can they get away with this? We can’t get away- there are reviewers, audience holding us accountable. How can he get away? He is destroying my peace of mind, he can destroy my life, my career also,” he added. Balki said film criticism is an important job, where those with knowledge turn as guides, but it hurts when reviewers are not decent with their criticism and always get away with what they write.
“I always believe reviews are important to guide people towards a particular film, but there is decency involved, there is writing involved, if you don’t like it there is a way to say it. But it was a vicious attack. I just felt, how can he get away, I thought we should bump them off. Amit ji started laughing and said, ‘You crazy fellow, what are you thinking, what are you on? What did you drink?’ and we left it at that, never spoke about it. But the story started developing in my mind, since that day in 2007,” he added.
Chup, which released on September 23, stars Sunny Deol, Pooja Bhatt, Dulquer Salmaan and Shreya Dhanwanthary. The psychological thriller follows a serial killer who carves stars into the bodies of his victims, who ‘re film critics.