I wrote a film review yesterday after watching “Kaabil”. The review can be found here:
I gave “Kaabil” a positive review because the film was a response to the injustice of rapist immunity and to the male-dominated legal and political system of power.
Today, I read through some other reviews of the movie. I have singled out one particular review for comment which has been published in The Guardian, a supposedly respectable British newspaper. The review can be read here:
The critic, Mike McCahill, rarely gives a film more than three stars out of five. He has never given a film more than four stars out of five. He makes a point of picking up faults in movies. This critic also reviews quite a few Hindi film movies. He has about four reviews to his name of some of the biggest films that have recently emerged. A British Asian critic could have reviewed those movies. He or she would have had more understanding of the films. They would also have been more sympathetic.
McCahill writes that “Sanjay Gupta’s tale of a blind dubbing artist avenging the ghost of his wife is the sort of nonsense the Indian film industry stopped churning out 20 years ago.” He gives the film two stars out of five. You can tell what kind of review this critic writes when you read the caption for the photograph of the movie: “His (Hritik Roshan’s) hair is a tribute to Faith-era George Michael.” The point of the review is to scoff at not just the film, but also Hindi films and Indian men in general. Hritik Roshan is a huge style icon in India. Equating him with a now deceased eighties pop star is a deliberate act of racism against not just one man, but an entire nation of men. It betrays a wish that he is dead.
McCahill’s idea is that the film has an “innately preposterous premise”. He deliberately adopts a literalist reading of the film. He deliberately contrasts the story in the film with his idea of an imagined reality which he knows and which the Indian screenwriter doesn’t. The white male critic somehow has privileged access to reality. He is in the know. The Indians aren’t. I have shown, on the other hand, that the blindness of the hero is a metaphor for the assumed powerlessness of the common man. I have shown how it is a serious response to rape. McCahill refuses to read the film as an allegory of justice and power as I have. He refuses to site the film in a history and immediate context in which rape has horrified India. His idea that the film is not real is a complete and utter misreading because he has no knowledge of India and clearly does not read the newspapers. His utter lack of imagination in interpreting the film is covered over by a generous helping of Western hubris. While I pointed out that the film’s worth was in its response to rape, McCahill is unable to accept that the film is a serious response to it. Instead, he thinks that the rape in the movie is besides the point and ruins the pleasure of the movie. Thus, he writes, “Gupta’s glib touting of rape as a plot point impedes any guilty pleasure.” The adjective “glib” is the telling point – Indians are depicted as shallow and insincere. They do not care about serious issues.
I, the British Asian viewer, liked the love story at the beginning of the film as much as the violent second half. However, because he wishes to scoff at Indian people, the western white male spits upon the romance in the movie. He writes, “[…] a disastrous first act bottoms out with a beyond kitsch wedding night sequence (“I can’t see, but I can feel”), and the sappiness trickles into the vendetta business, as dreamboat Roshan fumbles for wifey’s ghost between slayings.” McCahill refuses to understand the link between love and revenge in the movie. Revenge is the obligation attached to the Indian man’s love of a woman. He punishes the oppressor of women because of his love. McCahill is deliberately stupid. He thinks that there should be separation between love and revenge. He thinks of things in the stupid Western mind set. He believes that entities have discrete identities. He cannot read things in their proper context, as a whole. He cannot see connection, only differences. Where the Indian director charms an Indian audience with the love story, the western man laughs at the spectacle of our love making. It makes him sick. The white male’s undemonstrative affection for his women and his cold fish nature opposes the genuine and open hearted, demonstrative love of the Indian man.
McCahill mocks the dancing in the film by referring to dance sequences as “uniquely choreographed dance numbers”. Where the film is inventive, this is a bad thing. Where the film’s dance sequences have their own Indian identity, this is construed as an error. The invention of the Indians is a monstrosity according to the western, white male. Because the choreography has its own identity and is different from the white man’s dancing sequences, this automatically disqualifies it as serious dance.
The ignorant and racist white male critic, McCahill, closes his piece by stressing that the film is outdated. He proclaims that “the industry […] has moved on”. McCahill clearly believes that the corrupt Westernisation of Hindi films and their modelling on the white Hollywood paradigm is the pinnacle of film making. Pretending to be real when everything is false and is built to appeal to a white, middle-class and male audience. McCahill is the kind of racist idiot that I wouldn’t wish the children in my family to listen to. However, it is important to stress the stream of bullshit that comes out of this posturing and preening white male critic’s mouth. These are the attitudes that are present in Western film criticism. McCahill clearly lacks a proper education. He clearly lacks any knowledge of India. He doesn’t even know how to interpret a film properly. And yet, his review of “Kaabil” is published in a national newspaper in England, a newspaper which is widely respected. He is a published reviewer that specialised in Hindi films. My review of “Kaabil” is on my personal blog and no-one has read it. My reviews are only self-published and have no other outlet. This is the state of film criticism in England today.